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Hiring Time!

Ten tactics for attracting more staff during the busy holiday season

Acquiring special event staff, especially during the busy holiday season, is an ongoing process.

Here are 10 proven tips to help you attract more staff. These points were excerpted and expanded upon from the talk “As The World Turns” at 2016 Wedding MBA in Las Vegas this past October.

1. Inform your current staff
Send an email, mention in your company newsletter, post on the company bulletin boards, and talk about needing more event staff at your pre-event meetings. Encourage your staff to post on their social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) and to tell neighbors, friends, and relatives about what a great place your business is to work at, and that the house is hiring.

This can be a double-edged sword of course, as often staff will bring both good and the not so good. For the good recruits that stay 30 days, provide movie tickets or other spiff to the referrer as a thank you.

2. Page on company website
Add an employment opportunities page to your website that is devoted to hiring.

Use creative terms, descriptions, and headlines such as, “Join the team!” and “Employment opportunities” or even “Get paid to be at parties.”

Spell out briefly in bullet points some basic expectations and position descriptions. Show photos of happy staff tray passing, serving, and working at events.

Make it easy to apply. Consider using a software program that collects the applicant information and organizes for processing and scheduling interviews.

Note: Indicate that all inquiries are confidential. When clients did this they were surprised at the applications for various positions from employees currently working for competitors. These applicants were looking for a way into another company. Open the door.

3. Post on company Facebook page
Besides potential clients viewing your Facebook page, potential employees are also. Make it easy for them to apply with a link to your employment opportunities page.

4. Inform creative partners
Whether it’s produce, dairy, florals, rentals, a broad or specialty line supplier, these various outside creative resources that help you produce events often know who is unsatisfied, or looking to move on to a new home. Make it easy for them to pass the word and arrange for an introduction or to forward a resume.

5. Place ads on Craig’s List
Place your hiring ads in the section marked as: Food / Beverage / Hospitality.

Post your ads several times. Timing is crucial and in some cases you are competing against other local caterers and staffing agencies, especially during pre-holiday season.

Write ads to stand out and be interesting. Place your company name in the ad and include a photo. Skip the chest pounding about how great you are. Write in bullet points briefly describing the positions and expectations while directing them to apply at your “Join the team page.”  

If you are just hiring for a specific one-two day event then post under “Event.”

6. Engage local culinary schools
Get to know the instructors. Invite them to tour your office and kitchen. Ask them to visit you in the BOH at a large or upscale event. By building a business and personal relationship with the instructors you will see them sending you the better students, and talk up your job openings in classes.

Offer to speak at classes about off-premises catering.

Post “Help Wanted” posters on campus. Create a PDF of the job opening and email to the instructors. Often they will forward on to the students.

Be on campus for job fairs and career days.

Consider serving in an advisory board capacity.

Remember: Culinary schools are a great resource for seasonal, paid, and unpaid interns.

7. Befriend local community colleges, colleges, and universities
There are two paths for higher level education centers regardless of being a private or public institution.

First, follow the same direction provided for culinary school assuming the campus has culinary or event management programs. Some institutions offer classes in event planning, production, and management. Arrange for paid and unpaid interns to experience the real world at your company.

Place posters and also test an ad in the school paper, website, and put job offer notices at the campus job center.

Fraternities, sororities, both men’s and women’s sports teams can be a good source when season is not in play.

Be aware that during finals weeks, most college students are MIA while cramming and taking finals. Schedule accordingly.

8. Post ads online at special dedicated culinary, hospitality, and event planning oriented sites
Use Indeed, Jobungo, Job Right, Jobseeker suggested jobs and alike. These culinary specific sites are targeting culinary and event staff job seekers.

9. Contact previous departed and seasonal staff that left on good terms
Reconnect with departed staff that left on good terms, meaning you would hire them back. Email an invitation to return, or ask them to make referrals to you among their neighbors, friends, and relatives.

10. Ad in local community paper
Skip the employment section in the community papers and stand out with a display ad. Follow the guidelines mentioned previously.

Hiring is ongoing all year long activity. At times you need more staff than others. In the end, hiring is a numbers game. Track the percentage of applications that convert to working staff that stay more than 30 days.

After a while you will see the numbers fall into place. Then it’s a matter of upping the numbers and tweaking the process along the way.

Get Fresh, November 2016

Roy Porter

Activities Director, Engage Works, Inc., Los Alamitos, CA

A California native, who prior to returning to catering, spent several years in direct marketing as a planner, strategist and copywriter on numerous lead generation, sales conversion and customer retention campaigns.

Recognized as consummate and approachable hands on innovator in performance improvement and training off-premise catering staffs for plating (FOH), table and bar service.