Much has changed since John Baldino entered the restaurant HR game 24 years ago.
“Back when it was still called personnel,” jokes Baldino, the director of human resources for New York–based LDV Hospitality, which claims 23 restaurants across five states, including such noteworthy spots as New York City’s Scarpetta and American Cut.
When needing to fill restaurant staff positions in those early days, Baldino relied almost exclusively on newspaper ads, word-of-mouth, and the obligatory sign in the window. Sometimes he received the right candidate at the right time; quite often, however, the weighty recruiting and hiring process consumed him.
“Turnover is a constant reality in our business,” Baldino says.
For hiring managers like Baldino, recruiting and hiring tasks are often time-consuming, frustrating endeavors. Employers might spend hours sifting through resumes to simply identify the best candidates—only to then have to schedule one-on-one meetings, interview the prospects, call references, and complete other important tasks to gauge a potential employee’s fit.
And, now, the challenges might only intensify.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in the restaurants and accommodations sector rose to a six-year high earlier this year with an estimated 534,000 job openings at restaurants and lodging places as of January 31.
“While this upward trend is a positive indication that the economy continues to improve, it also likely signals a reemergence of traditional labor challenges for the restaurant industry,” National Restaurant Association (NRA) chief economist Bruce Grindy said in a March NRA statement.
Further validating this assessment, the NRA’s “Restaurant Industry 2014: Workforce Outlooks & Trends” report states that roughly four out of 10 restaurant operators expect recruiting and retaining employees to be more difficult for their business in 2014 compared with 2013. If turnover increases, so does the need to recruit and hire new staff—a time-intensive process that limits the restaurant’s ability to address other business areas.
While Craigslist has long been the recruiting and hiring default for many restaurant operators—and understandably so given its localized approach and ease of use—a number of online resources, such as Harri and Shiftgig, are emerging. These social media-like vehicles help operators navigate the process in a more modern way, an appealing prospect for restaurants looking to discover employees, particularly from the Gen Y set, in a more dynamic environment.