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National Restaurant Association - How to hook top talent

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How to hook top talent

Reel in good talent from the labor pool with these steps:

1. Identify what’s a “good catch.” Start by determining what skills and traits are essential. If your restaurant has a set of core values or a mission statement, use that to guide you. For example, Great New Hampshire Restaurants looks to its “Table of Success,” which identifies the company’s six core values, including respect and executing greatness. “A few years back, we decided to define our culture and core values,” says co-owner and CEO Tom Boucher. “We stopped and asked ourselves 'What makes us great?' We then communicated and integrated these values into as many areas of our business as possible, including our hiring practices.”

Craft job descriptions that list what each job entails. Think about what makes your star employees stand out. “List out all the skills that your good employees have and frame your interview questions around them,” recommends T.J. Schier, president of the SMART Restaurant Group, a franchisee of Dallas-based Which Wich, a fast-casual sandwich chain, and co-author of SMART Restaurant Guide to Recruiting and Selecting.

Consider an initial assessment to screen out unqualified candidates. Schier uses an online questionnaire operated by Snagajob to assess candidates before deciding who to call in for an interview.

When it comes time for the interview, ask questions that help determine whether the applicant is a good match. “Don’t just throw softball questions because you like someone,” Schier says. Start with the basics, like availability, and move on to behavioral-based questions that identify whether the applicant has the skills needed for the specific position. He recommends a two-interview process, with a different interviewer each time.

2. Know where to look. One of the best sources is right under your nose. Ask team members for referrals; consider rewarding them with monetary incentives. “The real value is that they’re getting good people to work aside,” says Tom Tice, a recruiting manager for Seattle-based Starbucks.

Take that approach a step further with “second-interview referrals.” If you have a few open slots, encourage candidates to bring an interested friend to their second interview. Wanting to impress their potential employer, “they’re not going to bring along a slacker,” Schier says.

Tap labor pools that run deep with good candidates. About 250,000 military members exit the armed forces every year, many looking for civilian jobs. Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and active military spouses by the end of 2018. They’re a reliable workforce instilled with values like honor, duty and commitment to a common cause.

 “One thing we do really well in the military is take care of people, and that speaks well to Starbucks,” says Starbucks’ Tice, a veteran himself. The company works closely with the military’s Transition Assistance Program to recruit talent and has gained traction through referrals within the tight-knit military community.

Social media offers a great platform to reach potential candidates. “Social media links us to our candidates on a human level,” Tice says. He uses LinkedIn Recruiter to post job listings and find talent, Twitter to publicize recruiting events and encourage a dialogue, and Instagram to share event photos, putting a face on the recruiters and forging a connection with candidates.

3. Lure in the winners. When it comes to attracting and retaining good talent, your company culture makes all the difference. Starbucks fosters a “culture of warmth and belonging” and provides opportunities to connect with the community, Tice says. The coffeehouse chain cultivates a team environment, where everyone is a “partner” and has equity in the company. “It appeals to people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he says.

Benefits and incentives also entice top talent. While medical coverage, tuition reimbursement and vacation can be a big draw, don’t forget to promote smaller perks. Starbucks touts that partners get a free pound of coffee each week; Which Wich, specializing in customizable sandwiches, gives team members customized Nikes.

Schier attracts go-getters to his Which Wich units by offering a commission for bringing in catering business. For snagging a large deal, he creates a photo op and awards the team member an oversized commission check. Elated team members often post the photos to Facebook, spreading the word about Which Wich careers. “When you create an environment that delivers the service you want, it becomes a lot easier to recruit the right people.”

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