The Need for Speed in Recruiting

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by Cleo Clarke, VP of HR Strategy & Development at Harri

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Hospitality Trendz.



In today’s workforce, we are plagued with so many of what I have come to call “blockers.”

As a recruiter or a single-unit owner, one such blocker is being tasked with the overwhelming and time-consuming burden of staffing your operation with just ordinary staff, but quality staff who will grow with your company.

There are usually two points at which this task becomes a necessity: when your business begins to scale, or when you are dealing with standard turnover -- which is higher than 70% in the hospitality industry.

Not only is the pressure on the find someone quickly, but you must also be sure to find the right person for the job. In this day and age, good candidates are extremely hard to find. This perhaps rings most true in the hospitality industry, where we face additional challenges such as the chef shortage and high turnover, and where candidates get snatched up in a millisecond by the competition.

These are just a few of the challenges that you’re faced with when it comes to acquiring and retaining employees.

Now, I am not going to say  that finding the right candidate, creating a strong recruitment strategy, hiring top line players, and creating an environment that speaks to an outstanding culture are all not important-- because they are. However, the need to hire the right candidate expeditiously is of the utmost importance to survive in the hospitality industry.  

I can speak to this because I have been on the other side of the table. I’ve waited for that call from the recruiter who said, “Thank you for coming in today. We’ll be in touch.” It is probably the most frustrating sentence one can ever hear when looking for a new position. Then, there’s the grueling wait, hoping they will call you back. Most often, you’re simultaneously trying to juggle interviews and several potential offers, hoping your number one choice comes through.

As the hiring manager, it’s up to YOU to make the right hire - and quickly.

Here are some tips to make sure you are hiring the right candidate:

  1. Be sure to have a strategy:  Make sure you are planning for your company’s future growth and are building a true talent pool.

  2. Use an applicant tracking system to choose your candidates: Where traditional ATS tend to be clunky and outdated, streamlined digital solutions, like Harri, seamlessly connect with sourcing channels, making it easily customizable for any recruiting process in minutes. A good ATS should not only track applicants, but ultimately help to reduce drop-off in the hiring funnel  which, as we already pointed out, is currently higher than 70% in the hospitality industry.

  3. Make sure you have a solid, widely-known employee value proposition:  In short, these are the offerings provided by your organization in return for the skills, capabilities, and experiences an employee brings to the table. Ideally, this would focus on five key areas: Benefits, Work Environment, Career, Culture, and Compensation. Ask yourself why a candidate should align themselves with your organization over others, and what would attract them to join your organization and influence their job satisfaction. Maybe you’re looking to advance your team from within so you promote growth and development opportunities. Maybe you want to retain staff so you offer stellar benefits that allow for employees to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Whatever it is, don’t be shy about shouting it from the rooftops.

  4. Post the job advertisement -- and make sure it’s not boring: It should be clear, concise, and interesting. The experience and skills must be specific as well. A simple, key way to reduce 90-day turnover is by outlining clear expectations of the role from the get-go. And remember -- make it fun.

  5. Review resumes quickly as they come in: I advise you do this daily and make sure you bring the qualified candidates in quickly. If you don’t, someone else will. If you’re always on the go, using a mobile-friendly sourcing and hiring platform can help you view and vet applicants, message potential candidates, schedule interviews, and more -- all from your mobile device.

  6. Don’t let the applicant get lost in the application process:  Tech-based solutions like Harri have hiring flows that allow you to proactively flag top talent, add them to a shortlist of top candidates, and keep the process moving along efficiently for both parties. Showing that you’re engaged makes employees feel invested in the process and builds affinity with your organization.

  7. Plan ahead and decide who will conduct the interviews: Make sure the interviewer knows what to ask, and that the interview process is not long and drawn out.

  8. Take notes in your interviews so you can remember the details: An easy way to do this is plan your questions in advance, and leave space in between for notes (this works whether you’re taking notes manually or electronically). Limit your note-taking to a candidate’s most important or revealing words or phrases (after all, your ultimate job is to listen). If a candidate says something that stands out, mark it with an asterisk so you can follow up on it later in more detail or recall why that particular person stood out to you.

  9. Keep your candidates warm through the process: Given the stiff competition and the pace at which the hiring process moves in the hospitality industry, hiring managers should be sure to  follow up with candidates to let them know their is still interest. Ideally, this should be every few days or at least once per week, depending on the role. If a candidate follows up to thank you, take the time to write a note back.

  10. “TBNT” (‘Thanks, But No Thanks): If you’re passing on a candidate, do them the courtesy of sending them a “TBNT” email or letter,  Not only does this add a personal touch and help humanize your hiring process, you never know when another position might open up -- and if you’re doing all of the above, a smart candidate will remember your organization and may be interested in applying again. Plus, if they had a positive experience, they may think to refer your other open positions to friends.

  11. Make sure you always keep speed in mind: Time is always a factor in the hospitality industry. Whether it’s quickly servicing a customer, or finding the right candidate, if you act too slowly, you will miss out and wind up paying (quite literally) for it later.

Hiring may not be a constant within your company, but you should always be recruiting and building a pipeline of candidates. Talent is constantly moving in and out of your organization, so you need to be on top of your recruitment game. Technology is key to helping you in this process, so always be investigating the best in talent recruitment and management software to give you the competitive edge.

Speed in recruiting is key--but remember, a strong recruitment strategy will help you with your need for speed.


About the Author

Cleo Clarke is the Vice President of Human Resources Strategy & Development at Harri. Clarke is a senior HR professional and has held an executive role in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years.