New Age Recruitment Marketing Channels for Today’s Competitive Restaurant Hires

In today’s tight job market, to be competitive and stay top of mind of potential hires, it’s important to launch a holistic recruitment marketing strategy to support basic recruiting functions. The talent acquisition funnel starts with building awareness, driving consideration, then interest before moving into traditional recruitment steps of application, interview selection, and hiring. The steps that come before application are the blind spot that many talent acquisition teams are ignoring, causing them to fall behind and become less relevant in the minds of their target candidate pool. 

We work with top restaurant and food retail brands, like Applebee’s and Chick-fil-A, that are very sophisticated when it comes to using digital, email, mail, and offline out-of-home marketing to drive consumer traffic and sales in their stores. Despite many stores wanting to actually recruit candidates from their most loyal customers, they don’t apply the same consumer marketing strategies to attracting candidates. 

Based on our experience working with these brands, here are our recommendations on the key channels to include in your recruitment marketing strategy: 

Job Board Advertising 

Everyone knows the Indeeds, Monster, and Craigslists but many of these are not specialized for the food, retail, hospitality space so you’re targeting a broader, more generic audience. There are thousands of long-tail job boards focused on specifically restaurant, hospitality, or retail jobs that leverage sophisticated search engine optimization to attract the most relevant candidates (i.e., ones with hospitality, restaurant, cooking, etc. experience already). It can be tedious to manage your job postings on each platform separately, ensuring that you’re driving enough eyeballs / traffic and interest to each of your different roles, so there are different technologies out there that will help you know where the next best dollar is spent to get the most qualified candidates into your hiring funnel. Days of posting a “WE’RE HIRING” sign on the window being enough are over as activity firmly shifts to digital, especially after the pandemic. 

Social Media Advertising

Most entry level hourly workers are millennials or Gen Z candidates who spend 80 percent+ of their online screen time on social media websites or mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok. It’s imperative that your recruitment marketing strategy incorporates active advertising to drive awareness, consideration, and interest for your workplace branding and open roles. This doesn’t mean just having a Facebook / Instagram page and occasionally posting on them. If you don’t actively drive traffic via advertising then nobody will see your content. This is referring to leveraging the advertising component of these social media platforms and posting targeted content and ads about your open roles and how awesome it is to work at your company to stand out and stay relevant in their eyes. It can be newsfeed advertisements or sponsored Instagram stories; you want engaging visuals that draw in candidates and bolster conversion through the rest of your hiring funnel. Technology platforms can also help you optimize these. 

Search Advertising

 Search advertising is housed on key search sites like Google and to a lesser degree, Bing. When a person within radius demonstrates any interest in finding a job e.g., by searching something like “jobs near me” or “server jobs in [city name]” then search advertising networks are able to tag that person with job seeking interest and start to show your jobs and company in places like search results and banner visual display ads as they browse other websites. This type of advertising operates on a bidding platform where you show up on search results and visual ad placement depending on how much you bid for eyeballs versus other people bidding for specific keywords. If you’re hiring for servers in your city but your competitor restaurants are bidding higher than you to have their jobs shown to people searching online, then job seekers will be their roles before yours. Technology platforms can also help you optimize these searches. 

Employment Office + Workforce Development + Local College Partnerships

Local employment offices, workforce development agencies, and college career centers work directly with folks who have filed for unemployment, are looking looking for a career switch, or are actively looking for part-time / full-time jobs, so they already have access to a ripe pool of candidates for your open roles. Develop partnerships with them to leverage their existing email marketing audience and resources to build on-the-ground awareness for your open roles. Create brand advocates for your company within these organizations. 

It is important that you have a recruitment marketing budget to drive top-of-funnel traffic in your hiring funnel. Each channel above should be covered by your recruitment marketing strategy. However, efficiency for attracting candidates to different job titles varies depending on how well you optimize these channels. For example, the average cost per application band for a cashier ranges from $6 to $16; whereas the average cost per application band for a fast food prep and serving worker ranges from $11 to $35. In order to bring in candidate flow at the lower end of that cost per application range, make sure that you’re constantly experimenting with engaging content, visuals, and videos and ideally your daily / weekly advertising budget is being moved across each of these channels, depending on which one is the most cost-effective and is driving the highest ROI. 

You also need to have tracking in place to be able to measure the success on each. There are certain baseline costs per application based on market / economic conditions (e.g., unemployment benefits, stimulus) that you can use for guidance, but there is a band where you can be more or less efficient with your advertising spend. Tailoring a dynamic recruitment strategy based on your store locations and open roles and drive towards better metrics like lower cost per applications and cost per hires due to their expertise in the channels above and being able to dynamically move budget across them based on engagement data.