Knowledge of the industry

Recruiters come from all industries with all sorts of backgrounds.  Like a professional sports coach, the very best restaurant recruiters understand the game / industry as well as many of the very best players / top tiered talent.  They constantly study trends in the industry and are aware of how to be most effective in attracting great talent.  They understand the talent from many of today’s very successful companies and who’s driving the best results.  They seek out some of that talent, or talent that has been groomed by some of the very best to help your organization succeed.

Experience in the Industry

At the end of the day, nothing will replace actual hands-on experience in the industry.  Many of the very best recruiters in the restaurant industry have had previous experience in multi-unit or director level positions, and personal experience in hiring great talent while in those positions.  The level of success they achieved within the industry, is generally a direct reflection on their own ability to attract the right talent.  When looking for a great recruiter with prior restaurant experience, make sure to understand how they were able to attract great talent and how successful they were in the industry.

Do they understand today’s staffing challenges?

The restaurant recruiting landscape changes daily.  Attracting candidates several years ago is much different than attracting candidates today.   Increases in the minimum wage, and the instability in wages that conversation around wage increases has caused, plays a big part in day to day hiring.  Even within certain markets wage challenges may be different in the city versus the suburbs.  Hiring the talent that understands those challenges and has experience where those challenges exist is mission critical.

How well do they get to know your internal culture?

Finding the right candidate is about more than a good-looking resume.  Understanding both what the employer and employee are looking for in each other is important.  What is the employee looking for in an ideal boss or company?  What to the employer makes a good employee?  It’s a recruiter’s responsibility to not only get to know the candidate they might potentially present to you, but why that candidate is going to succeed in your organization because they understand how that employee is going to perform in your company environment.  Recruiters and headhunters are “matchmakers” and matching the right talent, and the right personalities, to the job and team should be the number one priority.

The ability to sell your brand

Your brand is your livelihood.   Your recruiters understanding of the brand helps them find and attract better talent.  Some brands are exciting and easy to sell but some brands are more difficult to sell, and in some cases are the ones that most frequently reach out to recruiters.  The recruiter must understand every positive aspect about the brand to attract the right candidate.  They also must understand the opportunities and how the right candidate might be able to overcome and flourish in that environment.

How do they find candidates?

There are many ways to source candidates today and many recruiters pull from a data base of candidates they’ve built over time or purchased via the internet.  While it’s good to have the contacts and a data base, a great headhunter knows that the best candidates don’t come from a data base.  In fact, many of the best candidates out there don’t even know they are looking for a job.  A great headhunter will go out and find those candidates, match the personalities and skill sets to what you’re looking for and convince them to join your team.

How does the recruiter communicate?

Each client is different. An experienced headhunter or recruiter will understand and adapt to each client’s needs.  Some clients prefer email, while some prefer to communicate by phone or in person.  Does the recruiter meditate between candidate and client, or do they allow the client to contact the perspective employee directly?  A good recruiter / headhunter will tailor communication to meet the client’s needs.

Kelly Kuhlmann
Witten By Kelly Kuhlmann

Kelly Kuhlmann is Founder and Chief Recruiting Partner of Hospitality Headhunter. Kelly has over 30 years in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry at all levels, and has been one of the Largest Restaurant Franchisees in the United States.