How to hire now

New year, new rules

Recruiting and hiring may not have been priorities last year, but if predictions for a sustained economic recovery bear fruit, the collective “help wanted” sign could go up again this year. In fact, smart companies never stop hiring and even during the downturn have been strategically working to improve their odds of luring the best candidates from a labor market that, at least for now, more resembles an ocean than a pool.

“This is a unique moment in time that’s not going to last,” says Joni Thomas Doolin, CEO and founder of People Report, which provides workforce intelligence to service industries. “We got into this job loss at a very rapid rate and we’re not likely to see it accelerate again at the same rate. That fact, plus shifting demographics and the pull of other industries that are hiring aggressively despite the downturn, mean now’s the time to evaluate and build your teams.”

Integrate social media. You getting tired of hearing this yet? Using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for recruiting is now a must. “A lot of companies just aren’t getting this yet,” Doolin says. “Candidates have to be able to find you and get information about your job opportunities online.”

Talent Revolution founder and president Amanda Hite says that entire demographic groups now live out large portions of their lives online. Too many employers don’t take that into account when it comes to recruiting, according to Hite. “It makes me weep when I see the talent that you all are turning down because of old hiring paradigms,” she said in a recent keynote address to foodservice executives.

Chicken finger chain Raising Cane’s shows how it can be done. A jobs section on its Facebook page lists current openings and extensive use of photos and video convey messages about the company culture. Cane’s uses YouTube extensively to do the same, as well as to actively recruit. A recent video features Joshua Williams, the company’s enthusiastic “one love” recruiter, inviting viewers to check out career opportunities at an upcoming job fair.

In addition to targeting active job seekers, a big benefit of using social media is the ability to hit passive seekers, says Giuseppe Rosati, founder of the restaurant jobs portal “When passive job seekers stumble upon your job postings on social media sites, it opens up a whole new group of potential candidates, candidates that would not see the job on a traditional job site because they’re not actively looking.” 

Marry HR and marketing. Especially for online recruiting, these two functions need to work closely together, says Doolin. And while simply posting listings is easy, it doesn’t go far enough. “If the marketing department’s running a Facebook fan page, think about how that connects to people who may want to work for you as well as to eat in your restaurants.”

Hite agrees, saying marketing and HR should be “cuffed to the same cubicle” when it comes to recruiting. Two examples she points to in this regard are The Cheesecake Factory and Morton’s Steakhouse, which have posted slick, upbeat videos featuring executives and employees talking about the concepts, the cultures and their personal career successes. 

Tap technology. Old-school approaches to screening candidates from hand-written applications are inefficient even in good times. In this environment, with sometimes hundreds of applications stacking up for a single position, they’re nearly impossible. A result, Doolin says, is that hiring managers get overwhelmed and can easily miss prime candidates in the stack. “Savvy companies are turning to some kind of screening technology to lighten the load and make sure they get the best people.”

To this end, Church’s Chicken and Strategic Restaurants Inc., which operates 264 Burger King restaurants, tap a subscription-based solution for hiring hourly employees. The pre-interview service, called JobApp Network, sources, screens and scores applicants. It saves unit managers time and effort, and ultimately improves the quality of new hires. Church’s reported that during its initial six-month test with 46 restaurants, turnover decreased by 63 percent relative to a control group of restaurants.”

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