With the economy on the rise and unemployment rates falling, the hospitality labor market is getting tighter, a fact compounded further by the explosion of new restaurants. It is becoming even tougher for restaurants to find and keep good hospitality staff. In fact, the hardest-to-find workers are no longer computer engineers but rather blue-collar workers, particularly in the restaurant and hotel industries. Turnover has always been a key pressure on recruiters within the restaurant sector, but with more available opportunities in the market, it’s increasing. Estimates suggest rates to be anywhere between 60-300 percent and, though recruiting pressure is being felt across the board, it seems to be highest in the quick-service segment. As a McDonald’s or Burger King, persuading a candidate to work for you and not the competition is a crucial step. And yet, how can you truly distinguish yourself as an employer? Finding people to cover difficult shifts is an additional challenge that hiring managers face. But is there anything you can do to ease the challenges of recruiting in the restaurant sector? Below we highlight four key creative recruiting ideas for hiring hospitality staff. These tips will help you optimize and modernize your approach to hospitality recruitment. 1. Differentiate Your Employer Brand In a candidate-driven market, your employer brand should be your secret weapon to entice candidates to work for you rather than the competition. Providing a great candidate experience both online and in-store is essential to bolster your brand and drive applications. How are you treating customers that want to apply in person? Sending them away to apply on your website isn’t an optimum experience. Instead, you should leverage innovative solutions such as SMS or QR codes so they can apply seamlessly while they dine. With an open rate of almost 100 percent, SMS campaigns are highly effective. With Avature, you can set up an auto-reply messaging service empowering candidates to text a keyword such as “Apply” to a shortcode. They’ll then receive a reply with a link to your application portal. To learn best practices and more on why you should make messaging and SMS part of your CRM strategy, download our e-book Send Top Talent the Right Message: Messaging & SMS. Candidates can also be directed to apply by scanning a QR code displayed in your restaurant. For those applicants that hand over paper resumes, with Avature, you can scan CVs on the fly and upload the information directly into your ATS. For online applicants, make sure you offer a mobile-optimized experience. Data shows that 95% of candidates are looking for jobs on their phone, and that 78 percent would apply via mobile if the process were straightforward. To top off the experience for all candidates, adopting creative recruiting ideas such as offering an exclusive perk (e.g., a 10 percent discount) can really help to boost perceptions of your brand as well as sales. 2. Build Talent Pools of Hospitality Staff To encourage a steady flow of applicants, you should take advantage of talent pipelines rather than evergreen positions. Building a pool of qualified and interested candidates can also help reduce the time-to-fill when someone leaves the business, as well as the cost of hiring someone new. Talent pipelines can therefore minimize the impact of turnover on restaurants that might otherwise be crippled by lack of staff in a very short period of time. They also help to ensure a positive candidate experience as candidates don’t think they’ve been ignored after applying for a position. Managers are busy and don’t have time to get back everyone, but 61 percent of candidates will share a negative experience with their inner circle. A diminishing perception of your employer brand can spread rapidly and have a rippling effect on your bottom line, so it’s worth taking steps to ensure candidates don’t feel dejected or ignored. 3. Optimize the Restaurant Manager Experience Providing managers with intuitive tools that facilitate the central management of all recruiting activities is one of the simplest ways to overcome the hiring challenges they face. Invest in an industry-specific, mobile-optimized solution, such as Avature In-Store Recruiting, that has been developed to facilitate high-volume recruiting on the go. The technology you choose should allow them to screen and rank the best candidates using knockout or weighted questions. With Avature, restaurant managers can also take advantage of advanced filtering for shift requirements, making it easier to find the perfect candidate in the haystack. This is hugely important for shift planning and ensures that no time is wasted engaging with candidates who aren’t available to work when the restaurant really needs headcount. 4. Automate for Success For busy restaurant managers, taking advantage of automation to communicate efficiently with candidates can also help to ensure a positive experience. In addition, with Avature, you can leverage automation to relieve restaurant managers of tedious and time-consuming tasks. For example: Using our new calendar tools, managers can predefine when they’re available for interviews and enable candidates to self-schedule interviews. When it comes to making an offer, speed is of the essence in order to successfully hire a candidate. You can automatically email or SMS an offer rather than waiting for the manager to personally contact the candidate. Final Thoughts on Hospitality Recruitment It’s a competitive market out there, and there’s no doubt that Restaurant Managers will continue to be under pressure when it comes to recruiting in the sector. But by optimizing your approach to hospitality recruitment and providing them with industry-leading tools that empower them to source and recruit efficiently, you can minimize the impact that turnover has on your business. Interested in learning more? Check out our great data sources for this article here (Patrice and Associates) and here (Vox).