By Andy Cook, Harbor Foodservice Restaurant Consultant Group

Help Wanted signs and Craigslist ads don’t measure up. Countless hours and resources have been invested to perfect marketing strategies that work. Attracting customers and attracting talent are remarkably similar. How can we co-opt these developed strategies toward restaffing?

Identifying your audience’s ideal staff member

Think about the people you’d ideally like to see join your team. Being more specific than “someone with a pulse” is recommended. Setting ideals and building around standards will set you, your veteran staff, and your new hires up for a more positive relationship.

Building collateral in your job posting

We still see posts that start with the position and a list of qualifications, requirements, and desired skills—much of which can be perceived as a list of reasons you can’t, or don’t, want to work here—and if you’re still reading, here’s what we think of ourselves. (Can you tell the difference between us and anyone else?) Flip the script and recontextualize the narrative.

Start by giving them a sense of what being on your team will be like, when/if you list qualifications, skills, etc. Try something like “Here at [restaurant name] you’ll have the opportunity to develop [these skills & qualifications] with a management team who will have your back.”

Platforms/channels job boards

In marketing, there’s no such thing as one-and-done. It feels good to mark something off your list, but in a crowded and competitive recruiting landscape you must strive to make your job stand out in a world where the job seeker has a ton of options.

In a marketing world, it takes between seven and 10 touches with a brand before an expectation of an audience to act. In job searches, it’s less, but the tactic is sound. If a prospective employee isn’t familiar with your business, one job posting (however well-written) is probably not enough.

When posting online, put money behind it. This will ensure it circulates and help keep its placement ranked higher. Targeting for experiences and skills will help presort who finds it.

Be creative
More specifically, what you do to set yourself apart will make a world of difference. Job seekers have A LOT of options right now. Pre-coronavirus, applicants were more attracted to a place they’d belong rather than pay. That trend is amplified now.

Anyone can say that they are an amazing place to work. The quickest, most economical way to prove you have a great workplace is to let employees say it for you.

The employee-driven campaign
Create quick video testimonials and put them on Facebook/Instagram. Don’t bother with high production value, authenticity will win. Aim for light, quick, and fun.

Gather volunteers and prompt them with questions such as “What’s your funniest experience here so far?”

For the Front of House “Tell me about one of your favorite regulars”

For the Back of House: “What’s your favorite menu item to cook and why?”

If they have more than one response per prompt, capture them all as separate short videos. As permitted by the job boards, include these videos. Add them to your website’s employment page and distribute them on social media with links to your recruitment channel.

The goal is to hire amazing people, who attract more talented applicants. While easier said than done, it’s the foundation of almost every successful marketing campaign.