Hospitality Recruitment – The art of giving a f&ck

If you have tried to find a job in hospitality recently you would be forgiven if you’d forgotten what hospitality means by definition. It’s a disaster zone out there.

We speak to hundreds of candidates every month and I remain shocked as to how they have been treated in recent recruitment journeys. I wouldn’t say this is the exception, sadly it appears to be the norm. Perhaps a little dramatic. Not every story is jaw dropping, but certainly as an industry we are averaging a 6 out of 10. And even the award winners aren’t hitting the 10s.

So, what’s happening and what impact is it having? Let’s start there.

It’s a melting pot of average. These are a few offenders when it comes to recruitment shoddiness.

For me there is an element here of candidate resilience. Applying to an advert and being unsuccessful won’t get you a personalised call or email. However, I’m talking here about people MEETING employers and then never hearing back. Yes, that’s going out of your way to interview with an employer and NEVER HEARING BACK. We use the phrase ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ at Sixty Eight and well this is unforgivable Only yesterday an Operations Director described to me how he had 3 interviews (two with founders), requested feedback and still NEVER HEARD BACK.

‘If you were a toastie, what toastie would you be and why?’ I mean come on. I’m talking about leaders managing multi-million £ businesses being asked this tripe. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and we need to stop it. Mega gaps exist in interviewing skills across the sector for sure.

To me this reeks of desperation and again it’s not good enough. We need robust processes where candidates can go and reflect on the first stage and return for the second feeling more relaxed and often with a different set of questions. How you do anything is how you do everything and quick and dirty isn’t winning the race.

Hospitality to me is making something feel special. Not feeling like a number. In recruitment this can only be achieved if you have the basics nailed– solid comms, confirmations, feedback and timely interviews. To me this artform is things like telling the team you are expecting ‘Tom’ so make him feel welcome, its dropping someone a message to say thanks for your time, its someone from the employer talking them through the interview process, its memorising their hobbies from their CV and asking them to tell you about them, its arranging a table for them and their pal to try the new menu, its sending them a welcome card, its keeping in touch, its checking in. This, sadly, almost never happens.


So why are our recruitment practices so poor?

I think it’s a combination of things. In some cases poor candidate behaviour (no-shows/dropouts) has made us complacent and drained by the function. As a hiring manager it can be difficult to keep up the ‘Mary Poppins’ if time after time you are being let down.

Secondly, I think we aren’t using tech effectively. All this checking in, feeding back, confirming stuff is overwhelming. No one has the memory capacity to do all this. We try to , but everyone is busier than ever. In many cases, our failures are simply because we forgot. Scheduling tools and all the other good juicy tech stuff is underused, and we need to do better.

Thirdly, I think there is a lack of focus by leaders in business about how we want to make people feel. We talk a lot about our guests feel. We are indoctrinated to give a f&ck about them at all times. Its hospitality. But are those same conversations happening around people who touch our businesses during a recruitment process? The ones who we never ask ‘how was it for you?’ and who never tell us.  I bang on about values a lot but if a company genuinely showcased their values in all departments within the business, significant improvements would be made.

I love hospitality and I love recruitment. We are a sector in crisis when it comes to attracting talent, we must do better. We must review our processes and see how we can make improvements at every touch point. I don’t mean review with our own interest in mind. Not to save time or be more efficient. But review with the thought of ‘ how do we make people feel that we give a f&ck about them’ .

That’s it. It’s simple and it doable. And once we have done this as a sector, we have earned the right the attract the talent we need.

This article was written by Abi Dunn, Founder and CEO of hospitality recruitment specialists Sixty Eight People. Get in touch on abi@sixtyeightpeople.com.


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