In early April of this year, renowned chef and restaurateur Grant Achatz posted an image on his personal Instagram feed informing his more than 362,000-person following that “Alinea is hiring,” hunting for “reliable FOH professionals with strong work ethic and poise who consider hospitality their career.”
The post captured more than 7,000 likes and hundreds of comments flooded in.
But what if you don’t have international acclaim or a celebrity chef at the helm? Can this model be replicated?
“From a very tactical level, we leverage the tools within social media platforms to be able to reach the ideal employee through specific geographic and interest-level targeting,” says Lauren Cook, senior director of social and digital for FEED Media, a public relations firm with clients such as Emmerson Restaurant in Boulder, Colo., and Punch Bowl Social, an entertainment-centric eatery with locations nationwide. “Our ads don’t just say, ‘We’re hiring!’ Instead, our ads tell the story of what it’s like to be part of a bigger company culture.”
According to Michael Eisenberg, culinary management instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, social media can be used to attract employees who are following a particular page on a particular platform.
When millennials job hunt today, they access social media along their search journeys. And this proves mutually beneficial for the hopeful employee and employer, particularly at a time when the crusade for talent is fierce in the service industry. Social media is just one more avenue to connect.
“The use of social media has become mainstream in the restaurant world, and truly in all retail,” Eisenberg says. “It is the most cost-effective way to reach potential employees. There are a variety of different options to attract people [who] are likeminded.”
Elliot Schiffer, partner and CEO of Mici Handcrafted Italian restaurant, says posting frequently on social media about existing employees showcases the positive workplace atmosphere he and his team aim to cultivate.
“Highlighting our positive work atmosphere is not only good for driving sales, but very good for attracting talent as well,” Schiffer explains. “Our number one source of new employees is current employees. We know what new employees reach our company on Facebook and LinkedIn before joining.”
“Highlighting our positive work atmosphere is not only good for driving sales, but very good for attracting talent as well.” – Elliot Schiffer, partner and CEO of Mici Handcrafted Italian restaurant
Eric Elkins, CEO and founder of WideFoc.us, a PR and social media firm that works with Mici, agrees that restaurants should encourage their people to share job openings with friend, family and fan followings.
“Then those people know what their friends are getting into,” Elkins says.
Social media effectively allows followers to peek behind the scenes of a company, and get to know its staff and culture more transparently than ever before.
“It’s one thing to tell people a company is a great place to work; it’s quite another to show them,” says Aubrey Gordon, president of Sprocket Communications.
Though Gordon doesn’t have a list of hard-and-fast rules for deploying social media strategy to attract new employees in the restaurant world, she notes the high-turnover nature of the industry with caution.
“I wouldn’t necessarily recommend posting a line-cook position opening if a restaurant is having turnover in this position on a frequent basis,” Gordon warns. In that case, “use this tactic sparingly.”