When I'm talking to my clients or new clients , one of the most common discussions we have usually start with "Do you know of any cooks?". Unfortunately I have never seen it this bad since 2007 when the housing boom turned line cooks into general labourers for $26 an hour.
This phenomenon is what is known as a "Employees Market". Unfortunately you see the momentum shifts from the employer screening candidates for a job, to a employer being interviewed for the opportunity of them working for you. Once you get your head around this shift in thinking you will have a good start with your next hiring campaign.
A well crafted ad is the only way you can have an advantage over the hundreds of help wanted ads added daily on Craigslist. Here are some of the strategies I use to differentiate myself from the rest.
In my opinion, one of the most important exercise you can do is write a job description for the position you are hiring for. Keep it simple listing what the job responsibilities are, abilities needed for the job, and experience you are looking for. By writing the description it forces you to think about who your ideal candidate is so you can hone in on them.
With the "Employers Market" job market we are in, I think it is important to write a paragraph on why they should come work for you. What makes working for you better or different from any of the 20-30 restaurants within a 15 minute commute from your home. This is also a great way to express and describe your business "culture" to potential employees. Some of the phrases I have used in the past are " We have a creative menu to bring some fresh techniques to your repertoire" or " At ___________ we are family and we treat everyone from our co-workers to our customers like family".
One of the tricks I like to use are keywords at the bottom of the ad. This will help snag browsers using search engines looking for specific criteria. Try to use words that aren't specifically listed in your ad but are similar to the criteria of your job.
Avoid using homogenized text like "Must work under pressure, stand for extended periods of time, have a high attention to detail, be dependable, be a team player, have excellent oral communication, be reliable ect.....". This is a basic description of a line cook, so you have wasted the body of your ad describing a redundant job description. To me this poster either doesn't know what the candidate actually does; do yourself a favour write a job description.
When navigating through the mine field of the "compensation" section, do yourself a favour ad don't write "Compensation to be determined" or " Based on experience". Do yourself a favour and place an honest pay range in your ad. By being ambiguous you are telling future employees that you are interested in paying below industry standard because you are just trying to find a warm body instead of skilled labour.
When listing benefits for the position, don't list "training and development" or " Career Advancement". These are not benefits which benefit the employees. Training and development are a standard occupational necessities and Career advancement is up to the individual not a benefit of the company. Try thinking outside the box like " Paid bonuses for 100% attendance or no missed days" or " Transit pass reimbursement".
Finally when writing the ad, clearly state the shift you are hiring for if possible. For example 2-10PM Wednesday to Sunday. If the days off have to be flexible then just give them an idea of their start and finish times.
Here is a random ad I pulled off Craigslist. This is a great example of the ads most people are writing.
"The ********* Pub is now looking for some new kitchen staff to join our team.! A great opportunity to learn and grow with in the company.We are looking to build a motivated team with a strong focus on service excellence. Successful candidates must have good communication skills, a positive attitude , the ability to multitask , be well organized and a minimum of 2 years experience. We offer competitive wages and staff incentives. We are looking for line cooks and prep cooks, full time and part time. Please email your cover letter and resume or drop it off at the pub. Successful candidates will be contacted for an interview . We look forward to meeting you!"
Here is how I would modify the ad.
" Well established Delta pub is looking to add to our kitchen brigade with a few good men (or women). At the ********* Pub we have surrounded ourselves with some great people spearheaded with leadership from our Chef. We strive ourselves on being a quality employer who actually cares about their staff.
We are currently looking for full time or part time cooks who aren't afraid to get down and dirty to kick some a$$ during a service. If you have at least two years experience and answer yes to the following, then we want to sit down with you.
~ Can cook a salmon "properly" or cook a steak to temp.
~ Know your way around pans
~ Think a big menu is an opportunity
~ Have ice running through your veins during a rush
~ Believe in the "No one is left behind" mantra with their team mates
Please e-mail your resume with wage expectations to the address above. We have an creative incentive program with a handsome tip pool, transit rebates, and a 100% attendance bonus. Our hours are 11 AM to Midnight and shifts are primarily nights and weekends. We look forward to meeting you.
Keywords: Line cook, apprentice, school, culinary, career, sous chef, kitchen"
Now which ad would you apply to.