A hand-written sign in a window—and maybe a newspaper advertisement—used to be the simple and effective ways a restaurant would hire new employees.

But today the game is different. We have a host of new technologies at our fingertips, giving us greater options. It’s not just about technology, but also being creative at the hiring game.

Patrick Yearout, director of training for Ivar’s Restaurants, Seattle, spoke at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago earlier this month, about how he’s going about hiring.

The Internet is a great place to find new employees, he says.

Craigslist is a simple and inexpensive search tool, costing just $25 for an advertisement; Facebook and Twitter both have a great reach if you already have a lot of fans; and using your restaurant’s own website—preferably with a dedicated recruiting section—is also effective. There are also a host of online job boards, including Monster, CB&I, and Indeed.

That’s not to say that the old-fashioned methods don’t work any more, but whatever you do, you should do it right the first time because hiring the wrong employee is a costly mistake.

In fact, according to the Washington Restaurant Association, every time a restaurant turns a restaurant employee over it costs $5,125—and for a manger the costs are even more scary: $35,964.

These costs come from separation costs (time and travel costs for exit interviews; administration expenses; severance pay), replacement costs, training costs, and opportunity costs (for example the cost to your business due to having a departing employee underperform), Yearout explains.

He suggests some or all of the following tactics, for finding employees internally:

  • Use interior advertising with signage and banners.
  • Use anything you can—receipts, menus, newsletters—to include a blurb that says you’re hiring.
  • Translate your recruiting materials. You might even have an hourly employee do the translating, or turn to a local community college translator.
  • Consider your employees—there might be someone who can move up with a little grooming. This is a lot less expensive, and typically faster, than hiring a brand new employee.
  • Ask your employees for a referral. “They know what sort of person they want to work with and know what qualities are important,” Yearout explains. You can also offer a bounty, he suggests, such as $100 if the new hire stays for 90 days and $250 for the hire of a manger.
  • Ask your guests for a referral—they might have a neighbor, or a child, or themselves. Have a bounty for them, too—give them some free meals, for example.
  • Keep the frontline staff informed of open positions.

But don’t limit your search to within your restaurant. Also consider some of the following external hiring methods:

  • Visit high schools, colleges and culinary schools to check on their job centers.
  • Also visit local community centers, churches, etc.
  • Attend job fairs. Some can be free or low cost, especially at local community centers.
  • Advertise in newspapers or consider alternatives such as a local paper for culinary positions, which are much less expensive. You could also post an advertisement, rather than a classified ad, in a food/wine section of a newspaper or magazine, which will be read by those in the industry, or interested in it.
  • Use local or college radio stations to get the word out.
  • Check with your chamber of commerce.
  • Use your state employment service (for Washington state it’s Worksource, for example). “We find a lot of people through this,” Yearout says.
  • Use your state restaurant association or ProStart through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
  • Keep your eyes open at other restaurants. Always have some business cards with you, so you can hand one over to any stellar employees who serve you.
  • Bring recruitment materials to local store marketing events, fairs, etc.
  • Use mall resources if you’re located in a foodcourt.
  • Call people in your network for referrals or advice—find people directly or ask other restaurant mangers if they have applicants they can pass on or ask how they’re recruiting.

In these times where many people are seeking work and you only have one job to offer, you’ll be rejecting a lot of applicants.

Ivar’s sends any rejected candidates a coupon for a free cup of chowder or a free dessert with every entrée purchase. “We can’t hire every person who applies to us but we can keep them as a guest,” Yearout says.

Read about how Ivar’s aims to hire positive people and what the benefits of these employees are, here.

By Amanda Baltazar

Industry News, Labor & Employees, Ivar's