What the industry thinks about recruitment

07 November, 2019 by
Annabelle Cloros

Chefs and managers share their thoughts on the best recruitment avenues with Hospitality magazine.

Paola Toppi
Chef and owner, Bar M and Toppi Martin Place

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What are your go-to platforms?
We use the usual paid Seek and Indeed sites. We also use Facebook and various Facebook groups if there are no locals applying for vacancies. There is a group called Italians in Sydney, which is good for finding short-term staff.

What has been your experience with attracting long-term employees?
They have been the most difficult to recruit in recent times. I have had to sponsor most of my long-term staff as there is a real skills shortage for chefs and restaurant managers.

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Thoughts on social media and word of mouth as recruitment tools?
It can be limiting as 99 per cent of the people who see your posts are followers, so the chances of finding someone looking for a job are slim. Word of mouth is always a good choice as you have a recommendation from an industry colleague, which is like a reference.

Jess Morris
Restaurant manager, Bea

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Do you think it’s easier or harder to attract staff for a high-end restaurant like Bea?
I don’t think it is easier or harder. It depends on the time of year, whether the market is saturated or non-existent and whether our competitors are also recruiting.

Is it difficult to find skilled staff members?
From the floor perspective and for the skills we are searching for, I believe it has been challenging. We get the odd superstar via recruitment advertisements or through friends, but that isn’t always the case. However, we are an inclusive venue, and if we see a passion for learning, we will invest in training and one-on-one floor sessions. We’ve dissected and scrutinised our training program and are at the point where we can help upskill potential key section waiters, barmen and women, hosts, runners, chefs and sommeliers. Personality (also) goes a long way at Bea!

What are the platforms you rely on the most?
We have a very skilled and helpful HR department who are best at creating the right Seek advert to capture the desired candidate. Sydney Bartender Exchange is a fantastic platform to target hospo fanatics and varied skills, too.

Do you use colleague recommendations?
100 per cent. Colleague or ‘friends in the industry’ recommendations are always welcome. Whether they are the right fit is not always the case, but generally your colleagues will never recommend someone they didn’t feel would be successful. Not only does it convey trust in the candidate, it also communicates the skill set the venue requires. Lastly, the beauty of being part of a group such as Solotel is that we already have a pool of talent that either want to progress, try a different style of venue or is passionate about creating the ultimate guest experience.

Heaven Leigh
Owner, Bodhi

Which hiring platforms do you rely on the most?
It depends on the role. Seek is our go-to for senior long-term staff, Gumtree for casual or international staffing and Sydney Bartender Exchange on Facebook for bar staff.

Can you describe your interview process?
Casual staff have an in-person interview and a trial. More permanent senior roles will often have an initial interview followed by a more casual get-to-know-you meeting before being offered a role. We do not always hire based on experience (although it’s helpful); but on personality. In hospitality, we can teach you how to do something but we can’t teach you how to be a great employee with a good attitude who is willing to work autonomously or in a team environment.

Thoughts on the state of staffing in the industry?
It’s always tough to get good staff, and the industry often relies on international travellers and students, but this has become harder due to tougher immigration rules. There is generally always a shortage of talented and qualified chefs, especially if you have a specialist cuisine like we do. We are also seeing a shortage of bar staff in Sydney at the moment which is driving up the cost of wages to more than 6 per cent  above industry standards in New South Wales. It can make it difficult for restaurant dispense bars to find good people.

Hospitality has a high turnover with the average person staying less than 12 months. You really need to do more than just pay well to retain a great team — people want good company culture, a great work environment, good colleagues and a job they can grow and learn in.

Paul Dewhurst
Operations manager, Three Blue Ducks

Go-to recruitment platforms?
Our website, occasionally socials, Indeed, Jora, Seek, Gumtree and Sydney Bartender Exchange.

Which platforms yield the biggest results?
Usually our own website provides us with the most applications. It’s good because the applicants want to work with you as opposed to trawling through online job ads on recruitment websites.

What positions are you struggling to fill right now?
None. We are always on the hunt for the right people, but thankfully we have a consistent stream of applicants so we aren’t desperate in any one spot or role. That being said, when we properly start to recruit for Melbourne, we will be after all the key roles (managers, chefs, front of house and kitchen staff); all like-minded ducks!

Biggest challenge of staffing a venue from scratch?
Knowing that you need to fill 40–50 roles and that despite all the interviews, trials and group recruitment days, at least half of them will fall over in the stress and chaos of an opening!

Rebecca Yazbek
Co-owner, Nomad

What platforms do you rely on the most to find staff?
For social media, we tend to do shout-outs across Facebook and Instagram. Otherwise, we use Indeed, LinkedIn and Seek.

How important are colleague recommendations?
A lot of our employees have come through staff recommendations, which means they enjoy working with us enough to recommend us to their friends or colleagues from previous jobs! It’s a great way to find like-minded individuals as we are really conscious of hiring the right personality fit.

How successful has social media been for recruiting staff?
It generates more awareness rather than direct applicants. We always direct people through to our ‘join the team’ tab on our website. When looking at analytics, we find hits to the page go up following social media posts.

Jesse Gerner
Director, Tigerbird Group

What platforms do you use to recruit staff?
We use a variety of sources to recruit staff including traditional options such as Seek, Scout, Gumtree and some social media advertising. We do receive impromptu walk-ins with resume drop-offs as well. We also have a group of venues, so we handball good resumes and communicate any staff openings.

What are the most successful avenues?
There are a number of industry groups on Facebook which have yielded positive results. With these, you are advertising directly to quality staff you’d like to attract. We’ve found Gumtree can be useful. You do get a lot of responses to sort through, but this has often led to great team members for shorter stints such as an extra chef for the Christmas period. Colleague recommendations are also a great way to obtain staff — they know something about your venue, and you know something about them because they are being pre-screened.

Thoughts on social media as a recruitment tool?

Social media can be a valid recruitment tool, but it’s about recognising the audience of the platform. Our Facebook and Instagram followers may not be on our page looking for a potential workplace, but if you can engage with community groups, it can prove fruitful.

Main image credit: Nomad Up the Road, Petrina Tinslay

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