Restaurant Recruitment | How to Dazzle Potential Talent

By Dean Harrison

Where is everyone? Even though employers across the country are collectively asking this question, the labour shortage seems magnified in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

It’s no secret that the cost of goods and services is rising, just as our industry crawls out from the shadows of the pandemic. Supply chains are less reliable than ever, inflation is growing, and consumer behaviours are still unpredictable. During times of challenge, it’s essential to focus on things you have control over and ensure you’re executing with excellence.

The chaos of the past two and a half years saw those in the hospitality industry without a steady source of income. Time allowed many to take a step back and audit their professional value and contributions to an industry that needed to do better for them. As we reset and re-evaluate the past few years, equitable pay, a safe and welcoming space, and a voice for employees must be fundamental components of every employment agreement.

Tactics to bring talent to your business can be tricky, but retention should not have to be. Treating employees with flexibility, respect and transparency should be part of every employer’s “new normal.” It’s no longer business as usual. Flexibility and equitability are essential; show loyalty to your employees, and they’ll do the same to you.


In an ultra-competitive hiring landscape, you must make your business stand out for prospective applicants while effectively showcasing what’s in it for them. Tips to ensure you’re doing all you can to bring in top talent include:

A Targeted Digital Approach

Start with a killer job description. After listing the basics of the role, think about how you would describe your business to a friend; make your spot sound cool and relevant to the audience you want to hire. Then add in the benefits: free food, staff discounts, voluntary benefit plans, team-building opportunities and how they can progress.

Think about how you’re going to get your job description in front of the eyes of great talent. Recruitment platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn are a great start, and they often provide you the option to boost your posting for a fee. Also connect with local hospitality recruitment sites and your Business Improvement Area (BIA) to see what support they can offer.

The mistake many employers make is stopping there. You need to ensure your recruitment effort hits every part of your digital ecosystem. Do you regularly send CRM emails with offers and updates to guests? Add your recruitment efforts as a tertiary panel in your next CRM deployment or post-experience guest note. Get creative and scrappy; this is a no-cost way to spread the word to people who already know and love your business.

Add a Jobs page to your website or app and direct people there via targeted digital ads, pop-ups, QR codes in the restaurant, and links on your social media platforms. This page can highlight why people like working with you, include pictures of your current team, testimonials, and space to upload resumes directly — so you have an evergreen free recruitment plan. Don’t forget the power of Google. Update your business listing with recruitment information or create search Ads driving to your new Jobs page.

Large brands such as Subway Canada and McDonald’s are getting more and more creative with their tactics. If budget allows, create fun video content for IG, Snap and TikTok on the benefits of being an employee at your business. Ensure the content reflects reality but feel free to get creative in a way that is true to the platform and to your business. TikTok skews younger; add voice overs, text and a fun royalty-free song to make your content stand out. Ensure that you create content-specific recruitment videos or photography, being mindful of where each platform’s call to action (CTA) buttons are. CTA buttons are at the core of why these pieces of content are created; you have to quickly and effectively captivate candidates and make the application process clear and seamless.


Traditional Approaches

Once your digital strategy is locked in, integrating old-school recruitment tactics are as important as ever for a well-rounded hiring strategy. Use the space you have to generate interest as guests wait to pick up their order or be seated. Every guest has a network, usually with someone eager to find a new job.

Spend some money with your local printer and make window decals/clings with visible QR codes to easily apply on the spot. Add bag stuffers letting people know you are hiring; again, use a QR code directing people to your website or third-party job listing. If applicable, consider extending this further and add it to your packaging and take-out bags.

Perhaps even execute a hiring fair or large-scale hiring initiative. For some media amplification, take a stab at writing a concise press release or media advisory in hopes that your pitch generates earned media interest.

Add a solid referral incentive programme for your existing employees. Since they are often the best resources for finding and recruiting new talent, make it worth their while.

After completing all the above, watch your inbox fill up with applications. Screen candidates with pre-hire questions and allow them to schedule their interviews. When interviewing your short-list, it’s your responsibility to make the same effort as the candidate – bring enthusiasm, respect and be mindful of timelines. Remember that they are interviewing you and your business to see if the job is a good fit as much as you are interviewing them.

If you invest in candidates and employees, they will invest in you. A well-executed recruitment strategy alongside a mutually beneficial work environment is a sure-fire way to recruit and retain employees.