restaurant staff hiring
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Whether it’s hiring for a medium-sized restaurant or a global franchise, there is an effective method of hiring new employees, getting them on board, and keeping them. As any seasoned restaurant owner knows, there is more to running a restaurant than choosing the freshest ingredients. Restaurant staff hiring also plays a crucial role in ensuring quality food and service.

Every second that passes by in the food industry involves multiple moving parts: the chef who directs the kitchen, the waitstaff who take customer orders, and even the dishwashers who make sure that the food they serve arrives on clean dishes.

Getting food from the kitchen to the table requires a coordinated method of recruiting restaurant staff who think on their feet, can work long hours, and follow directions closely. This guide will show you how to find and hire employees and onboard them to your restaurant.

Restaurant staff hiring: how to recruit new staff

Before creating a fantastic team, you first need to recruit your staff. The recent pandemic and the resulting labor shortage have made restaurant staff hiring a challenge. Here are some tips for successful restaurant recruitment in these uncertain times:

1. Determine your hiring budget

Your budget for your to-be staff should account for their annual salary, any upfront rewards and benefits, and insurance plans.

Before you determine the budget, you need to decide what roles you’ll be hiring for. If you’re operating at reduced capacity, you might need more delivery riders to compensate for the lack of foot traffic.

You also need to be clear about what you expect your employees to do—a line cook does not have the same duties as a chef de cuisine. The average salary for each role varies according to the state as well.

Since you’re trying to attract employees with skills that they can only learn through experience, you need to be prepared to add a few dollars to the average hourly wage.

Suppose you’re an experienced head chef or have run a restaurant before and are fully confident in your ability to train new employees. In that case, you can do away with a lower budget.

However, suppose you’ve never held a spatula and saucepan in your life and are only interested in owning a restaurant, not running one. In that case, you may need to look for an experienced restaurant manager.

2. Create a recruitment plan

Once you’ve determined your budget, you can proceed to piece together your recruitment plan. A recruitment plan is a blueprint for your management and HR team to follow to fill the needed positions. It’s how you will go about recruiting. The plan usually consists of the following steps:

  • Identify the roles you need to fill. Do you need a chef, a server, or a bookkeeper? What skills and experience do you need for each position, and how much are you supposed to pay them?
  • Use the appropriate mediums to reach out to your ideal candidates. Will you be outreaching through in-store listing, social media, or job-hunting sites? Depending on your ideal employee, you may need to assess where they spend the most time before placing out a job listing.
  • Have a way to notify your respondent that you’re inviting them for an interview.
  • Structure your assessment process. It helps to have a visual flowchart of your recruitment plan.

You can even plot out the steps and processes the potential hire has to take to go from awareness about your listing to coming in for an interview.

This gives you and your team a structured process for restaurant staff hiring rather than just fumbling around without steps to follow.

3. Describe job roles clearly

Your potential applicants need a picture-clear idea of who you are and what they are expected to do for your business. Eliminating any uncertainty in your listing will improve your application rate, bettering your chances of finding a star employee.

There are three crucial pieces of information that you need to include in your job listing:

  • About the company
  • Role responsibilities
  • Minimum and preferred qualifications

You’ll want to tell potential applicants what kind of restaurant you run, whether it is a third-wave coffee shop, steakhouse, Italian restaurant, or a fast-food joint.

This will give them an idea of the kind of environment they’ll be working for. A barista’s skills might not be handy in a seafood restaurant, and a busser might not be used to their full potential in a delivery-only setup.

You’d also want to give more details about the daily activities for the role. If it includes tracking inventory, receiving deliveries, washing the dishes, or waiting tables, you name it. Your prospective applicants should know what they’ll be getting into.

It will be a negative work experience if you don’t list all of the responsibilities, then put them on full blast as they’re onboarded.

Next, state the required skills. The responsibilities must match up with the qualifications you’re describing. You can’t look for a restaurant manager then entertain applications from people without any restaurant experience.

If you need a better idea about restaurant job listings, check out job-hunting websites for listings from your competitors and see how they do it.

4. Use recruiting software and platforms

Besides hanging your job listing on your restaurant’s front window, you may take to the internet to seek out job hunters. If you’re not placing your job listing online, your restaurant staff hiring attempts won’t be effective.

You can use free job posting sites such as Indeed, Restaurant Careers, or Good Food Jobs. Google for Jobs is also a good place for posting job listings.

If you’re looking for candidates with a bit more experience, you may use Hospitality Online, Sirvo, or Culinary Agents. LinkedIn also has a Jobs feature that lets you post open positions and message qualified candidates.

If you have a website for your restaurant, you can post new openings on its career page. This informs your avid customers that you’re looking for someone, and maybe a passionate customer may just answer the call.

You will also need an applicant tracking system (ATS) that will allow you to monitor candidate progress and select the most qualified individuals.

Depending on the size and number of your restaurants, you could go for a simple ATS like GoHire or a more powerful one like SmartRecruiters or Taleo.

5. Consider recruitment metrics

It takes some funding to run a job listing ad online or in the newspaper. Nonetheless, you should see that that money’s being put to good use.

Think of it like this – the less engaging a job listing is, the more you may need to spend on it to have the same reach as an engaging job listing with minimal spending.

A job listing’s effectiveness will depend on factors such as your cover photo of choice, how you structure the copy, and the benefits you offer. Some metrics that will help you assess how effective your job listing is are the number of people who:

  • Viewed your job listing
  • Expressed interest in the job
  • Went through your application process

These numbers measure how effective your job listing was in outreach, how engaging it was to read through, and how much people may want to work for your company.

Here are some recruitment metrics that you’d want to watch out for on your end:

  • Response rate
  • Average response delay

Keep an eye on these metrics as well. Most applicants prefer employers who respond quickly.

Onboarding new restaurant employees

Restaurant staff hiring is just the start of the employee’s experience. The onboarding process is where you continue the new hire’s journey to becoming a key contributor to your restaurant.

A well-executed onboarding process forms the base of your new employee’s knowledge. It determines their chances of succeeding in their role.

Here are a few pointers for creating an effective onboarding experience:

1. Create an onboarding guide

Many restaurants rely on verbal instructions to teach their employees how to do their jobs. However, the quality of the food and service in these restaurants tend to be inconsistent.

If you want your restaurant to be known for its impeccable food and service, you must document your processes in a restaurant training manual.

The manual’s contents will vary according to the role you’re filling. For example, a fry cook will need instructions on operating and cleaning a deep fryer. In contrast, a cashier will need to know how to use the cash register.

However, the manual should also contain elements that every employee should know, such as the right way of wearing the uniform, mopping the floor, or dealing with irate customers.

Aside from containing instructions, the manual should set SMART goals for each employee. If your goal is to increase sales while reducing food waste, the goals should include the year’s sales and food waste targets.

Your manual doesn’t have to be full of text. If you feel your employees will benefit from training videos, go ahead and create them. Just ensure that the videos cover everything they need to do their jobs.

You don’t even have to create your own videos if you don’t have the budget. YouTube carries a wealth of training materials that you can use during onboarding.

Here is a video from Real Server Training that teaches the right way to carry plates, which is an essential skill that your employees should master.

2. Facilitate introductions

You can’t expect a new employee to just pop into the kitchen and start working with others. You will need to introduce your new hire to their colleagues to develop good working relationships.

Most introductions involve walking around the floor with the new employee and introducing them to everyone. However, this isn’t practical in cramped, high-activity environments with a high possibility of accidents.

Instead, you can gather your employees before the restaurant opens for the day, let the new worker introduce themselves, and have everyone else do the same.

This breaks the ice between your new hire and seasoned staff, lessening friction and enabling more spontaneous communication in the kitchen.

Aside from the pre-opening meeting, you can also introduce the new employee a day or two before starting. This way, you can get them familiar with the restaurant even before their first day on the job.

At this point, you may assign a work buddy who will guide the new employee through the restaurant’s daily operations. Let’s discuss the concept of a work buddy in the next section.

3. Assign work buddies

Even if you hire an experienced candidate, you cannot expect them to get the hang of things in your restaurant immediately. There is almost always a learning curve involved for a new hire. To flatten the curve, you can pair the new employee with someone who’s been around for a while.

Ideally, a good work buddy should have extensive knowledge of restaurant operations, such as operating equipment, receiving shipments, taking inventory, or cleaning the premises.

They should also have good communication skills and an excellent work ethic. You want your new employees to learn how to do things the right way, and someone who takes shortcuts at work isn’t the best person to teach new hires.

In addition, the work buddy should be someone who commands respect from everyone in the restaurant. They should maintain a friendly demeanor, keep their communication lines open, and have a positive outlook.

However, you cannot assign the new worker’s supervisor as their work buddy. Instead, they should be a team member who has similar responsibilities.

To create a successful buddy system, you need to set reasonable expectations for the buddy, supervisor, and new hire. These expectations should include the knowledge the buddy is expected to impart to the employee.

You also need to create a timeline for knowledge sharing and regular check-in sessions to see where both the buddy and new hire are in terms of training.

Implementing a work buddy system maintains a happy working environment that encourages productivity.

It also boosts your restaurant staff hiring campaign by giving your new hires a great first impression of the restaurant. This will encourage them to refer their friends for future openings.

4. Familiarize your new employees with tech tools

It’s always a challenge to introduce new hires to the software they’ll be needing to go about their day-to-day. But it’s an essential part of the onboarding nonetheless.

It’s not enough to have the right tools, such as a POS and cash register, for your restaurant to operate more efficiently. Your workforce should also adopt a technologically open and innovative behavior to using your provided tools.

For instance, many food service workers are familiar only with manual time clocks and paper schedules. If your restaurant uses automated restaurant scheduling software, the onboarding process is the best time to introduce it to new hires. The same thing goes for the store’s online ordering and cash register systems.

Easy-to-use online ordering system Teach your staff to use it in minutes, and they can start accepting orders today

5. Encourage feedback

You don’t know everything, and your staff and managers don’t know everything either. In the same way that technology and the market are continuously developing, learning new things is the only constant.

Encourage your new hires to give comments on where specific processes can improve. Invite them over for taste tests when you unveil new menu items. Get your new hires as involved in shaping your restaurant as your more seasoned employees.

I’ll emphasize it again, you don’t know everything, and neither do your managers. Constructive feedback is the only way to synthesize your team’s input to formulate better ideas.

Conclusion

The food industry is one of the most fast-paced industries out there. To succeed in this industry, you need a highly-skilled team that communicates efficiently with each other.

You can create this team with an optimal restaurant staff hiring and onboarding process, allowing your employees to fully develop their skills and teamwork.

Your recruiting should first account for your budget. Once you have that, create a recruitment plan that lays out the positions you’ll be needing.

Describe the job listing clearly, and use recruiting software and platforms to ensure that your job posting reaches your target candidates. Then, check your recruitment metrics to see if your job listing is performing well.

Once you have your positions filled in, make the onboarding process inviting. Create a guide for you and your new hires to help them perform their jobs properly.

Gather your current employees and introduce your new hire, so they feel comfortable in their working environment. You may assign work buddies, too, so that your new hire doesn’t feel overwhelmed and alone.

Familiarize your new staff with the tech tools needed in their day to day, and finally, encourage feedback from them. You may learn a thing or two.

Make sure to follow this guide properly. Slowly but surely, you’ll see that you’re building a well-trained, efficient roster of restaurant workers who are ready to provide your guests with great food and service.

Author Bio

Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at ZoomShift, an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising. He likes to share his knowledge with others to help them increase results.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.