How do you successfully recruit in the Catering and Hospitality Sector?

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How do you successfully recruit in the Catering and Hospitality Sector?

With great difficulty, I hear a lot of our new clients say – and they’d be correct. Whether you’re recruiting for a Chef, Chef de Partie, Waiting Staff, Kitchen Porter, Hotel Concierge or anything else in between you’ve likely encountered some problems.

Let’s take Chefs for example. It is notoriously difficult to find great Chefs and sometimes even harder to keep hold of them in a competitive market. There are a number of reasons why, but I would say that for the most part Chefs are disproportionately remunerated against the value they usually bring to their employer. Take your Head Chef, for example, you can’t just recruit anybody for this position, they can’t just be any Chef. The quality of this one position has a huge impact on the perception of your brand, your product, your business and your reputation. There aren’t too many industries like this, where an employee is so reliant on the output of one individual and his (often small) team. For small teams, where the owner is also the Head Chef, it’s less of a problem – but for others, the success of this hire will have played a big part in whether the business achieves success or not.

In other scenarios, where an individual is such a contributor to the success of a company (CEO, Finance Director and other board level positions), the hiring employer usually has the luxury of being able to pay for the assurance and track record of a professional with a reputation in their market. Whilst most pub and restaurant owners may want to be able to pay their Chef’s six-figure salaries, for the most part, it’s not going to happen.

There is, however, a silver lining. Good quality Chefs haven’t decided to become chefs for the salary, the convenient working hours or the company Porsche. They do it because they love it. If you ever speak to a great Chef about their job you can tell instantly how incredibly passionate about their job and food they really are. When hiring Chef’s it’s important to remember this and if the candidate in front of you is looking for creative freedom and menu control, you should really decide if they are the right fit for your business. Chefs usually don’t last in roles when their creativity is stifled and they have to follow day to day instructions with little or no input. There is a distinct difference between a Chef and a cook and when recruiting, it’s important to remember this.

How to attract Chefs.

First, what does not work. Adverts that read: Chef required, must be experienced, working 5/7 evenings including weekends. Salary £x. When creating the copy for your advert, I would suggest referring back to why the ideal Chef would be interested in your position. In a competitive market, you should be standing out from the crowd whilst giving an accurate representation of what life will be like working for you.

Establishment information

What type of establishment are you, how long have you been around, where do you fit in the market, what do customers say about you, what produce do you use in your menu. This is your opportunity to show potential candidates just how passionate about your restaurant/bar/pub/hotel/etc you are. Give them as much information as you’d want if you were applying for the position. Some examples:

Candidates do want to know:

  • If you’re a quaint country pub in an idyllic location
  • If you only use locally sourced, fresh produce for your menu
  • How many covers you have
  • What size team you have
  • How your customers rate you

Candidates, generally, don’t want to know (at least at this stage):

  • What day suppliers orders are delivered
  • That the Commis Chef has to leave early on Wednesdays
  • You do have live in available, but it won’t be ready for 10 days because you have the decorators booked in

Role details

Describe in detail what you’re hoping the candidate will be able to do. If you’re happy for them to be working on the menu, liaising with customers, trialling special dishes, introducing new ideas – here is where you should be talking about it. Candidates want to have a good understanding of what sort of company they are applying for and what they’re expected to do. This section helps express your views on both of these issues.

Working hours and days.

The advert should give a clear idea as to the accurate working times and hours. If they are split shifts including every weekend let them know if there’s a rota let them know and if it’s a small team and sometimes you’re there till 1 am – definitely let candidates know.

Salary & Visibility

The catering market is very competitive and not including a salary, whilst tempting, will not help your flow of applications. A lot of candidates will run a general search, such as:

Chef, East London, 10 miles.

They will then be presented with over 1800 jobs to choose from (results from the Caterer at time of publication). They then use the filters to whittle down to a shorter list. A key metric used here is salary or rate of pay. If a candidate knows they can only take a job paying minimum £25k, they often filter by this as a starting point. If you don’t input a salary, your advert will not be shown – even if you may well be prepared to offer £25k+.

Finally, after finalising their filters they will usually view the first 1-2 pages of jobs. On most job boards, that means 20-40 roles maximum. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re position is continuously on these pages for the entirety of the campaign.

When we advertise for you, we have pre-agreed mechanisms in place to ensure your adverts remain prominently featured, even towards the end of the campaign. These are often featured/promoted/sponsored/refresh adverts. This means that your adverts are active for 28 days rather than just 3-4 with standard adverts.


Finally, coverage coverage coverage. In any industry that is tricky and has a shortage of candidates, you should be covering all bases. This is our strategy (hello, competitors), firstly we cover the Catering job sites, Caterer and In Catering. Both are well known within the industry and work really well for both small and large establishments. After that, we utilise the major generalist job boards (hundreds of them), a few note worth contributors are TotalJobs, Monster, Jobsite, Daily Mail and Zoek. After that, we ensure our catering jobs get great coverage on the aggregator sites and social media. We often then create a branded employer and apply pages which really helps to demonstrate what type of brand you are. We also like to (if you have the resource) create an auto-reply with a contact number inviting the candidate to call as soon as they have applied. It may sound a bit in depth but in a fast-paced market, you need to be reacting as quickly as possible to avoid losing the best talent. Sounds exhausting, but it’s a proven method, that works. I would go as far as saying it is the best method available for giving you maximum chance of filling your position – with the exception being that your best friend is a Chef looking for a new job.

The best news is, we can do all of this for you for a minutia of the usual cost! If you’re wanting to get started and would like us to assist with your advert, post your job today.

Daniel- Co-Founder

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