November 28

How To Build An Effective Restaurant Hiring Strategy 


A Step-by-Step Guide on Anticipating Demand In Your Restaurant Hiring Strategy to Build Your Dream Team Ahead of Time

A well-developed hiring strategy is essential to building a reliable team, especially when preparing for the busy season. 

Finding employees who fit within your company culture and create an exceptional customer experience night after night is the dream. Still, it’s much easier said than done. 

Most restaurant businesses claim to hire every 1-3 months. Turnover at that rate can make the busy season more stressful than it needs to be and less profitable than it could be. 

Even losing one employee during your peak season increases the risk of burnout among your teammates and impacts the customer experience. 

The key to getting ahead of this problem—is to get ahead of your hiring needs. 

As a hospitality-focused employment site, we’re here to help you plan how and when you hire by building a simple and effective hiring strategy. 

Five Steps to Building a Restaurant Hiring Strategy 

Step 1: Determine Your Annual Hiring Needs

Determining your annual hiring needs requires assessing internal sales data, team productivity, and employee turnover rates. 

Start by using sales data to identify your seasonality. When does your peak season take off, and when does it cool down? Most modern POS systems offer some kind of analytics tool that will make this easier. 

Next, review your scheduling throughout the year to identify periods when your staff was stretched thin. Look for months with increased overtime, requests off, or scheduling conflicts. 

Additionally, speak with team leaders to get their input on where and when extra help is needed. 

Lastly, determine your current turnover rate. It’s always good to have a value to measure against. If your turnover rate is high, there may be areas where your hiring or employee engagement strategies could improve. 

Calculate Your Employee Turnover Rate: 

  1. First, collect the following: 
    • The number of employees you had at the beginning of the year
    • The number of employees who left or who were let go throughout the year
    • The number of employees you have at the end of the year
  2. Next, find the average employee count by adding the number of employees you had at the beginning and the end of the year. Divide this number by 2. 
  3. Lastly, divide the number of employees who left by the average employee count and multiply that by 100. 

By knowing your turnover rate you can estimate how many employees you’ll need in the following year—helping you budget and plan. 

Additionally, it can help you set goals by knowing where you need to improve your hiring strategy and where you can measure success. 

Step 2: Distinguish Your Company Culture and Unique Employee Offerings 

If your goal is to attract employees who are a good fit for your business while increasing your employee retention—then you’ve got to know who you are as a business and why someone would want to work for you. 

Company culture includes everything from the purpose and vision behind your restaurant to your company values, work environment, leadership style, and so much more. 

Take some time to write out what the ideal workspace would be like in your company. Don’t just stop at what you want your customers to experience. Also, consider what you want for your employees, how you want to support them, and how you want them to engage with one another.  

Make this your restaurant’s mission and values statement to use as a frame of reference when cultivating the company culture you envision. 

Knowing who you are and what you expect from others is essential to drawing in like-minded people when hiring. Employers don’t often take the opportunity to promote their business in their job descriptions when they post on Poached. If you highlight your company culture and what makes you unique, you’ll stand out against the competition to attract top talent to improve employee satisfaction. 

Step 3: Identify How to Advertise Your Open Roles

When you’re ready to start hiring—you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck. 

You can announce when you’re hiring on your website, your front door, and social channels. These are great options because they’re free and quick. The downside of these methods is that they’re inefficient in reaching a larger audience, and you’ll have to organize resumes across multiple channels in digital and paper form.

Still, you want to utilize every available opportunity. In addition to advertising your open roles through your network—find a job board to expand your reach.

Many employment sites exist. Do some research to find the best option for your goals and budget. 

Poached is unique compared to other job sites because we are focused on the hospitality industry. So unlike Indeed, Craigslist, or LinkedIn—when you post your jobs on Poached, most applicants are workers explicitly looking for employment in the restaurant industry and have experience.

Consider the cost of the different job boards, their applicant tracking tools, and what other restaurants are posting their jobs on each site.

In the restaurant industry, many hiring managers turn to Craigslist because it’s cheap or, in some cases, free. But don’t be fooled. 

The amount of time you will spend organizing individually emailed resumes, many with little to no experience—your money will be spent through your time and decreased productivity. 

Indeed does the same trick. They pull hiring managers in with a promise of being “free” but then charge per applicant—quickly getting expensive. 

As you’re starting out, you might want to post a job on various sites to evaluate which will work best for you in the future. 

Step 4: Create Interview and Onboarding Procedures

Making a good impression during the interview and onboarding process should be prioritized in your hiring strategy. 

Candidates are still deciding if your atmosphere is right for them and their career goals during the interview and onboarding period. If things are disorganized or confusing, it could cause new hires not to take the role seriously or not feel confident in their long-term stability working with you.  

Interview and onboarding procedures allow you to present your brand professionally while supporting potential new hires as they get familiar with and comfortable in your work environment. 

Additionally, implementing interview and onboarding procedures is a great way to ensure your business complies with local and federal labor laws. 

For your interview procedure, there are a few things you might want to standardize, including:

  • Initial outreach and follow-up emails
  • Interview Questions 
  • Interview reporting and filing
  • Rejection guidelines

Creating a guideline for everyone to follow will streamline the interview process and ensure your team is supported rather than left to their own devices. 

The onboarding process should be handled in the same way. Create some standardized documentation, including:

  • Offer letters
  • Necessary onboarding documentation, deadlines, and filing instructions
  • Training and review processes 

Train hiring managers on your procedure and meet with them regularly to review any questions or concerns and discuss how your process could be improved. 

Step 5: Understand Prime Hiring Seasons

The last step in our guide to creating a hiring strategy is determining the prime time for your business to begin hiring. 

You’ll want to consider all of the previous steps, like when your peak season begins, how many roles you’ll need to fill, and how long it takes to interview and onboard an employee until they are fully trained. 

The whole hiring process can take at least three months. If you’re like most restaurant businesses where your high season takes off in March, you must start your hiring process in November or December to give yourself enough time to be ready for the increased traffic. 

Determining when to start hiring to get the most out of your hiring strategy can also help you budget better. If you know you should start recruiting in December, allocate some budget throughout the year to have an extra cushion when needed. 

Luckily for restaurants looking to be fully staffed by Spring, we see an increase in applications from hospitality workers in November and December, making it a fantastic time to start advertising open roles

Additionally, with a decrease in competition, you likely won’t need as big of a hiring budget to get the results you want. 

Even if you’re not hiring immediately, you can at least collect resumes and start the conversation with a few potential candidates.  

If some candidates look too good to pass up, but you’re short on hours right now, you can always build a roster with Poached Shifts and book those promising candidates as contract workers until you have a full-time role available. 

Given how challenging recruiting can be in the hospitality industry, putting some thought and strategy into your hiring process is essential for long-term success. 

So, if you’re ready to hire for Spring, get started today!

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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