A guide to building a stellar staff: rock star recruiting

Finding and hiring a world-class team sets the stage for long-term success. In this 5-part series, we’ll discuss the latest techniques, tips, and protocols that leave our clients with a pool of incredible candidates.

In our last post, we outlined how you can best determine your staffing needs. While that was a major accomplishment and step in the right direction, this next phase is even more crucial.

It’s time to recruit! And not just recruit anybody, but recruit your Rock Stars.

But to do that, you must have a well thought out recruiting plan.

Revisit Prior Recruiting Efforts

Before you can look towards the future, you’ll need to first look back.

Take a few moments to think about how you previously (or currently) find your staff. Do you:

  • Rely on referrals from existing team members?
  • Place ads on Craigslist, Indeed or other job posting sites?
  • Use your social media channels to find new talent?
  • Hang a sign inthe window?
  • Host a hiring event/job fair?

Most owners or hiring managers use a mix of the outreach programs listed above to fulfill their staffing needs. It’s important to remember though that what works well for one restaurant may not work well for another.

Tweaking Your Method

As objectively as possible, try to evaluate how your hiring methods have been working for you.

Questions to consider during this brainstorming session include:

  • Are you attracting employees that fit your needs?

Since you’ve already determined your needs, now’s the time to find employees with skills to match. You’ll be best served to seek out a diverse group of employees, whose skills complement each other and the culture of your restaurant.

  • Is your approach too hands-off?

Recruiting in today’s restaurant or retail industry can be tough – not to mention expensive if high turnover becomes a problem. So having a coordinated recruiting strategy is key. Continued planning, researching, and tweaking will be required.

  • Or perhaps you’re too involved?

Recruiting should be a team effort, and seeking input from others will prove invaluable to the process. Owners, managers, and even hourly staff can be instrumental in finding the right balance of recruiting methods.

  • Are you looking in the right places?

Maybe you’ve solely relied on word of mouth and Craigslist ads when hiring in the past. But as your needs ebb and flow or you’re not finding the talent that fits your culture, you might have to look elsewhere. Consider posting your job openings with a local community college who offers a culinary program, for example.

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

When it comes to recruiting top talent, thinking outside the box may just be your best bet. Quicken Loans uses an innovative strategy that any local business could apply as well – a ‘road rally.’

Recruiters spend a day visiting several stores and restaurants. They purchase merchandise, order meals, and seek out employees and managers who demonstrate enthusiasm, energy, and customer service skills.

Quicken’s director of talent acquisition, Michael G. Homula, sums up why this strategy works so well. “Too many companies focus on industry experience when they recruit. We’re after certain kinds of people, not people from a certain business.”

Homula adds, “We’ve turned waiters and waitresses into great mortgage bankers. We’ve hired soap-opera actors and electricians. We can teach people about finance. We can’t teach passion, urgency and a willingness to go the extra mile.”

Do you think Quicken’s recruiting strategy would work in your company? Please tell us in the comments below!


Carrie Luxem is the founder and President of Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR group based in Chicago, IL. Carrie will be sharing her wisdom from over 15 years in restaurant human resources through guest-posts on the Homebase blog.

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