Hospitality Recruitment – Why we need to start thinking differently

It takes a lot to shock me, but a few weeks ago I attended a recruitment workshop hosted by one of my hospitality clients. They have 5 roles to fill, so 20 candidates had been invited to attend. Each candidate was contacted by email following their application, with a follow up call to discuss the job requirements, and finally a text message confirming the time, date and location of the workshop.

4 candidates contacted the business ahead of time to let them know that they wouldn’t be able to attend, or that they had been offered another position. And on the day…

ONE candidate showed up.

15 people decided not to attend. And despite having the business owner’s mobile number and email, not one of them sent their apologies, or made an attempt to reschedule.

Is this really where we’re at now?

I personally can’t imagine missing an appointment or meeting without offering some kind of apology and explanation, never mind a job interview… But it would seem that 75% of these candidates think that’s acceptable. This got me wondering – is this a problem specific to hospitality recruitment, or is every industry now experiencing the same? Recruitment is not my area of expertise, so I reached out to my contacts on LinkedIn to understand their experience across different sectors and to ask for their advice.

Many agreed that this was now the norm across the hospitality industry, with one commenting: “Unfortunately unsurprising… I have witnessed 100% no-show on days where multiple kitchen staff trials have been arranged. Some with messages to say they cannot make it (usually on the day itself), or completely no warning. It’s a shame, and it doesn’t happen every time! But it is always on the back of your mind. ‘Are they going to show up’ shouldn’t be the first thought of the day when trialling new potential team members.”

Others argued that our process was at fault:

“I agree that it is rude too however this is where we are. We like to think we are progressive is hospitality but as far as recruitment goes things haven’t changed much when it comes to recruiting but the workforce has. As an industry we continue to target 18 – 25 yr olds who demand a lot more from employers and in some cases rightly so.”

And it’s fair to say that many were not backwards in coming forward to tell me where the business could be doing better:

“This screams of an out of touch recruitment process as much as misguided behaviour from candidates sadly. We’re losing candidates from interview processes in a matter of 24hrs if clients don’t move quickly enough at the moment, so your post doesn’t surprise me, but also the recruitment process needs to be more dynamic to attract and keep engaged talent. Keep in mind social anxiety caused by covid plus the stress of unemployment for these candidates, a fight to the death in a room full of other applicants is hardly a safe environment for these people to want to seek future employment. Everyone here needs to be better.”

Timing seemed to be a big factor for those commenting from the recruitment world, with many saying no more than 24 hours to contact someone once they have submitted a CV, and no more than 2 days from that point of contact to interview.  Perks and benefits were also raised, with some questioning whether enough thought had been given to the offer:

“It’s been like this in hospitality for a long time… It always amazes me how little effort people put into recruitment too, we seem to market our businesses to our guests but not our staff, usually a small “careers” tab hidden on the last page of a website. If I see one more job ad offering 28 days holiday like its a perk…”

I found the comments fascinating, and it slowly dawned on me… The days of advertising a position and choosing your employee from a pool of eager hopefuls are behind us. If we want to fill these positions, and to find people who engage with the business, then we have to start actively marketing to our future employees in the same way we do to our customers.

I asked to see the advert that the business had posted, and realised it read more like a job specification… The benefits of working for a brilliant, independently owned business who are in a period of substantial growth were at the very end of the page, only available after the candidate had trawled through the list of tasks they were expected to perform for a little over minimum wage.

We’ve since revised the advert to quickly and simply explain to applicants why they should choose this business as their future employers – flexible working hours, regular pay reviews and the opportunity to run their own store within 12 months are now at the top of the list. We’re in the process of updating the website with a recruitment page that details the career journey from an hourly paid team member through to an area management role, and we’ve also revised the recruitment process to make it faster and more personalised to the applicants.

But the overall message coming through loud and clear from all industries? We must do better if we want to attract the right people for our business. Recruitment shouldn’t be a dirty word, but a two-way process where we work hard to showcase our business and benefits to those who have expressed an interest in joining our work family.

“Sadly most of these people will probably have experienced dodgy recruitment methods themselves. We expect guys to give up their time and be grateful to us for the opportunity of an interview… The start of the recruitment process should be the start of making people feel that they want to be part of your organisation. It should be an amazing experience. With full transparency throughout, maybe we’ll see more people attend.”

Article by Louise, of Liverpool Food Network.


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