Hiring in the hospitality industry right now? You know it's tough. After suffering major job loss blows due to the coronavirus pandemic, we can now see that restaurants, hotels, resorts, entertainment venues, and travel agencies are back. But do they have the best people behind them? And once they find skilled employees, how do they keep them around?
With high rates of unfilled openings, hospitality recruiters face a unique challenge in 2023. If you're trying to refine your approach to talent acquisition to recover from the setbacks of the past few years, read on. Here are five recruiting tips in hospitality to help you find people with upbeat attitudes, great customer service and sales skills, and leadership potential.
Job descriptions matter
When candidates are perusing job postings, it's often the job description that piques their interest. Commit to crafting engaging job descriptions that stand out. Define the responsibilities and requirements while also capturing the company culture. And be honest. A flashy job description that oversells or undersells the hours, permanency, or duties might help you attract applicants, but it might lead to churn.
Consider search engine optimization (SEO) when writing job postings. This helps you rank at the top of candidates' search results when they input their target job info. Here are some SEO principles to put into practice in your postings:
- The more information, the better: Fill out all the fields, even the optional ones.
- Use keywords wisely: Include relevant keywords, but don't overdo it.
- Simplify your job titles: Funky titles can help you stand out, but consider what titles candidates are typing into the search bar.
It's who you know: Encourage referrals
You already have a precious recruiting resource: your existing team. It's no secret to anyone in the industry that food service and hospitality networks are tight-knit and wide. Your team might have a wealth of former teammates, former supervisors, and friends who fit exactly what you're looking for. Consider developing a referral program to incentivize employees to talk up your job postings to their connections.
Plus, it pays off to hire people in the network. According to research by recruiting software company Internet Collaborative Information Management Systems (iCIMS), employees hired by referral typically stay with the company 70% longer than those hired without a referral.
"It's no secret to anyone in the industry that food service and hospitality networks are tight-knit and wide. Your team might have a wealth of former teammates, former supervisors, and friends who fit exactly what you're looking for."
Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presented in the U.S. Travel Association's September 2022 Leisure and Hospitality Employment Update shows that hospitality employers are competing for talent. The industry makes up 13% of open jobs, which is more than it did before the pandemic. It has a 5.3% quit rate, which is higher than most other fields, and wages have risen 22% since 2019. Essentially, attracting talent costs these days.
Take an honest look at the salary offered. Reflect on if it's appropriate given the market in your area and the skills requested. Can your pay meet the cost of living in your area? In areas like Detroit and Kansas City, a single person can support themselves on $17 an hour. In New York City or Los Angeles, you're looking at around $22 an hour. Hospitality candidates are looking for attractive compensation and room to grow, so make a suitable offer and be transparent about it.
Work hard, perk hard
Benefits are another way you can show employees you care. There are standard benefits, like health insurance, retirement options, and paid time off (PTO). Consider extra perks you can add to make working for you a blast. Here are some perks, ranging from practical to playful, to consider offering:
- Health and wellness perks: Consider offering a wellness stipend, on-site exercise classes, free meals, and mental health programs to help your team feel their best.
- Training and development perks: Promote personal and professional growth with tuition reimbursement, career planning, and on-site certification for industry skills, like food safety and sommelier skills.
- Rewards and incentives: When individuals or teams knock it out of the park, celebrate them with gifts, like sweet treats, team outings, and gift cards.
Try different interview approaches
Hospitality can be fast-paced, tiring, and customer-centric. If you're having trouble finding people who can thrive in the environment, reconsider your interview style. You can learn a lot from a standard sit-down question-and-answer interview, but consider implementing a hands-on shadowing experience as part of your recruiting process.
You could also try other interview approaches to better assess fit, like:
- Peer-led interviews: Have someone who's currently on the team interview them, as they know first-hand what the job really requires.
- Self-paced video responses: Requiring candidates to submit video answers to questions along with their application might tell you more about their personality than a resume and cover letter do.
- Task-oriented interview: Challenge them with some assignments and watch how they perform to get a better sense of their skills.
Use social media effectively
A 2021 study by social recruiting firm CareerArc found that 86% of candidates surveyed used social media as a tool for job seeking. There are two major ways to use social media to attract top talent: by sharing your workplace and by sourcing applicants. Post photos, videos, and features that showcase what a great place to work your business is.
You can also use social media to recruit quality candidates. Scour groups and pages that feature hospitality professionals. More and more professionals use social media to share their career-related accomplishments, so there might be capable candidates hiding in plain sight.
Hospitality employers are fighting for the best talent right now, so it's never been more important to optimize your recruitment strategy. Implement these tips to refine your approach to attracting the best in customer service, hospitality management, and maintenance.
Selected reading for hospitality recruiters:
Keep your best contenders in the game by studying five reasons job seekers abandon the hiring process.
Salaries matter to employees. Be prepared to pay up. What's a competitive wage?
Open to trying new techniques? Read about three of the best ways to find job candidates.