Recruiting and retaining staff: How and where to advertise hospitality jobs

If you have vacancies to fill, what are your options in advertising them?

What do Gumtree, Twitter, viral web videos and local newspapers have in common? The answer is they have all served as promotional mechanisms for advertisements for hospitality jobs recently.    

The hospitality industry is notorious for having a high turnover of staff, which means that employers are often on the look-out for new talent and as a result are increasingly trying out new ways of letting potential employees know about their vacancies. 

With the emergence of the internet and the rise in the popularity of social networks it has never been easier to reach a wider, or even global, audience with your job ad, but is telling your followers on Twitter about a vacancy or using a site where users are more likely to be searching for a flat or a second-hand guitar as effective as posting it on a dedicated channel for job-seekers?

In the first instalment of our three-part special on recruitment, we look at the options available and examine their effectiveness for your business's needs.

Targeting the right people 

Where you decide to advertise your position and start the search for staff will mainly depend, as with many things, on how much time and money you have to spare, but it is also worth thinking about the kind of candidate you are trying to attract. 

“We used to rely on our own website and industry jobs boards to advertise our jobs, but now we also use a lot of social media, particularly Linkedin and Twitter, to tell people about what we have on our books,” says Nick Claypole, operations manager London and South East at hospitality recruitment company Berkeley Scott. 

“The market is saturated with lots of average level candidates who are actively seeking employment, but they often don’t have the skills employers are looking for, so we try and find the passive job seeker who might be more suitable for our clients, which is where social media is useful,” he adds. 

“We’ve found Linkedin works well to tell people about permanent management positions while Twitter works well to advertise for temporary staff.” 

Of course, Claypole works for a recruitment consultancy, which works on your behalf to advertise roles and find suitable candidates for them - one option for employers who can afford to outsource the job of writing the job ad, advertising it and then sifting through all the applications. 

However, if you do lack the funds to get external help, or want control over the process yourself, it is worth returning again to the question of what kind of candidates you want to reach.


When the HR team at Melia hotels was thinking about advertising vacancies for new hotel ME London, due to open this summer, it decided to use some innovative methods to recruit staff for certain posts.

Instead of posting a job advertisement in the traditional way for a commis chef role, the hotel's HR team decided to launch a competition to find one, inviting candidates to submit a Masterchef-style video of themselves in place of a CV to give them the chance of landing a dream job with training.

The quality and quantity of entries has been high so far, according to ME London, evidently striking a chord with media-savvy, emerging chefs who favour the web and social media over more traditional forms of job-seeking.

"The brand is one that very much engages with the city in which it is located, so we wanted to open the posts up to London ’s talented, culturally-connected individuals, who might not hear about this exciting opportunity through traditional hospitality recruitment methods," explains Robert Dunning, head of HR at ME London.

"Given that social media is now a key channel of communication, we feel that this is the most effective way to find the right candidates. Our model is all about psychographics not demographics, so this personal, fun aspect of the process is just what was needed to find the individuals to match our brand." 

Local search

While innovative use of technology to reach potential candidates might be preferred by some, for others it is simply not necessary.  

The owners of the soon-to-reopen Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, decided they only wanted to employ people who lived close to the business when starting the recruitment drive, so only used the local Yorkshire press to advertise vacancies.  

"We wanted to give first opportunity to local people - this is good for the local community and also our guests who benefit from being looked after by people who know the area well, particularly as many of our guests will be tourists," says a hotel spokesperson. 

"We held an open day in the function room and were inundated with responses - and very able people. The difficulty was choosing from such a large number of good quality applicants. We were also in the fortunate position that many people had already applied to us direct once they heard the hotel was being restored and re-opened."  

Location and level

Local press is also used by Carluccio's to advertise posts at restaurants due to open in towns across the country, but it is just one of many ways the Italian restaurant group aims to find staff. 

Marcus Weedon, senior recruitment manager at Carluccio's, says his team takes many aspects into account when choosing where to advertise vacancies, citing location of branches and the type of role on offer as the deciding factors. 

"For managerial and head chef vacancies we tend to use our own website and jobs boards, but when searching for team members (ie commis chefs, waiting staff) we tend to use Gumtree because they like using that website and we have more chance of reaching that level there.

"We use Twitter now and again - it's a way of telling people that we are currently recruiting and we hope that our followers might know someone who is looking for a job and will let them know about a position." 

One route which Weedon is increasingly taking to find staff is by holding open days. The day is advertised in the press, on jobs boards and its own website. A recent open day in London attracted 400 people and led to the hiring of 12 people while a management and chef open day attracted about 80 and led to 15 people being invited for trials and second interviews. 

The open day route is suited to larger organisations and as Weedon says it can take work, but has the benefit of being able to reduce the time taken to sift through CVs.

"It takes organising and it means our recruitment team is out of the business for a day, but it is worthwhile because you see a CV and the person behind it. As we hire a lot on personality it helps us to recruit the right people." 

Where should you place your job ad?: 

  • Social networks - Use Twitter to reach passive job seekers, temporary and junior staff and Linkedin for managerial positions, passive and active.
  • Free websites - Gumtree, Friday Ad etc. Suitable for advertising junior roles and have the benefit of costing little or nothing at all.
  • Hospitality jobs boards/trade press - Use to target those serious about careers in the hospitality industry. Higher level, managerial roles work well, but they can be effective for most levels. 
  • Local press - Use local and regional newspapers and websites to recruit for businesses based outside large cities and where knowledge of the local area is needed for the role.
  • Open days - Will need to be promoted before the event, but can cut down admin in the long-run as candidates can be vetted before the interview stage. 
  • Your own window/community noticeboard - The local social network. Catch passers-by, your regulars or active 'pounding-the-street' type job-seekers.

Tomorrow: How to pick the best person for the job 

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