Make sure your boutique's got talent


Sourcing the best talent for your hotel can be a time-consuming and costly process. With competition for staff increasingly tough, how can hotel employers improve their chances of attracting the best people they need? Jo Fowle, director of leading hospitality recruitment agency Urban People, provides a step-by-step approach for hoteliers on how to source the best staff for your hotel.

Step 1: Work on your recruitment branding as well as your hotel’s marketing

You invest in making sure your hotel conveys the right image and has a great looking website that entices would-be customers to stay with you, so why not put the same energies into your recruitment strategy?

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Having a strong employer brand can make the difference between attracting good people or great people to work for you and the only way to appeal to the right candidates is to position yourself as an employer of choice.

Recent research by LinkedIn revealed that 83% of talent acquisition leaders say employer brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent. So it’s important for hiring managers to focus their recruitment message on what they can offer future employees. Instead of concentrating on what we call ‘hygiene’ factors, such as your “prime location” or the fact the hotel has “recently been refurbished”, focus on the tangible benefits that employers can enjoy.

For instance, what training opportunities do you provide, is there a clear career path, do you support their development by sponsoring professional qualifications, can staff take advantage of onsite facilities such as the gym or enjoy concessions in the restaurant?

In other words, give greater attention to the things that make your current employees want to stay working for you and communicate your vision for the business – one that employees can buy into and is inspiring. Google, for example, uses the tagline “Do cool things that matter,” while Innocent Smoothies go with “We’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good”. So what does your branding say about you?

Candidates who are serious about their careers are sold on emotions – the culture of the hotel, the opportunities open to them, and the kudos of being associated with a particular establishment. They’re looking for the ‘X’ factor in their next role, after all they are leaving their current role for something better, right?

Step 2: Target the right candidates

The reality is that there is a lot of job migration within the hotel sector, and anyone worth their salt will constantly be on the look out for the right opportunity to take their career to the next level.

Simply placing a ‘Staff Wanted’ sign in your front window will only help if you’re in a high footfall area and you’re only looking for relatively entry-level staff. But the higher up the tree, the harder it is to find the right people.

That’s why hospitality employers are increasingly dependent on external partners, such as specialist recruitment firms. It’s not just because they don’t always have the time to undertake what can sometimes be a lengthy recruitment process. In most cases, it’s largely because agencies are an effective means of sourcing top candidates given their extensive contacts within the sector. Specialist recruiters will already have a pool of talent ripe for the picking who are not necessarily applying for roles elsewhere, so it’s worth tapping them up – it could significantly reduce bith your time and cost to hire.

Step 3: Make technology your friend

Love it or loathe it social media is a must for any serious employer. Seen a candidate you like? Check them out on Twitter or Facebook. Can’t seem to find who you are looking for? Get active online – use key words to seek out both passive and active jobseekers.

A recent report by the Aberdeen Group revealed that 73% of 18-34 year olds found their last job through social media. Although LinkedIn is by far the preferred platform in terms of social media recruitment – with 94% of recruiters using it to source candidates – Facebook and Twitter are by far the most effective for people looking for jobs in hospitality.

So make sure you post frequently and encourage your followers to share your content – even if they themselves aren’t looking for a new position right now they may do so soon or know of a friend who is.

Step 4: Get your team on board

Your people are your greatest asset, so get your people working for you when it comes to your recruitment. Good employers utilise a range of recruiting tools to attract new staff, great employers do the same but with one major exception – they already have a team of employees banging the drum for them.

We have worked with both sets of employers but the ones that people really want to work for are those that are highly effective at internal communication are almost twice as likely to outperform their peers and attract the best staff.

In other words, employees who are engaged are proven to increase their efforts and efficiencies, which positively impacts on the organisation’s bottom line. This creates greater loyalty to their employer and they are more likely to remain in situ for the long haul, which in turn sees them recommend their employer as a good place to work. All of which is good news for you – you get to keep your recruiting overheads to a minimum whilst attracting good candidates to work for you.

Step 5: Make recruitment central to your overall strategy

Getting attention for a current role via a beautifully crafted job advert is one thing, prompting a possible candidate to leave the security of their current role is quite another. Employers cannot afford to play a waiting game or bide their time until the right talent is available – recruitment is an ongoing process, not an after thought.

Rather, employers need to focus on what they can offer potential employees both in the here and now and over the next two to three years. Only then can hotel employers successfully find the people they need on an ongoing basis to plug the much-needed gaps they have to fill.

This will also help employers focus their resources more effectively whilst ensuring they generate a greater return on their recruitment investment.