Recruiting and retaining a talented and efficient chef for your pub kitchen has always been a struggle, but nevermore so than in recent years as the catering industry (including pubs) has grown exponentially. This article from June 2016 in the Morning Advertiser on how the UK catering industry is suffering from a chef shortage will give you an idea of how difficult it can be.
This guide will help you find the right chef for your pub and then retain them, it includes lots of top tips and links to useful resources… and best of all it shows you how to do it for free if you’ve got the time in your busy schedule.
There are many tried and tested ways of finding pub staff (including chefs), so, whether you are looking for a replacement chef, an addition to your kitchen brigade or employing your first chef one of them should suit your pub business. For that matter, the methods outlined below can be used for recruitment of other pub staff such as bar tenders or waiters.
Word Of Mouth
- Talk to chefs and other people in the catering trade.If you know any working chefs then give them a call, they might know of reliable chefs looking for work? If they don’t, you can still ask them to put the word out for you (the world of cheffing is a relatively small one). For those of you running a pub for the first time, is there anyone amongst your circle of contacts who works in catering or hospitality? They might know suitable people trying to find chef jobs.
- Ask your staff to ask their friends and family if they know people in the catering profession. Ask them to spread the word that a passionate and talented chef’s needed at your pub. (You might even offer a signing bonus for anyone who introduces a successful candidate).
- Mention it to your friends and family.
In all likelihood your pub had its own website and good practice means it should have a careers or vacancies page which features the latest employment opportunities at your pub. For instance this is from a pub website’s job page:
To start you off, click here for a job description for an executive/head chef job description. (You can also find other pub staff job descriptions here.)
Using Social Media As A Hiring Tool
Social media can also be an effective way of sourcing applications from chefs, and Twitter / Facebook are two key social media channels to use in your quest for the perfect chef.
Twitter is a great online marketing tool for pubs and can be equally effective at advertising your staff vacancies.
Here’s a great example of a Twitter job ad:
As you can see they’ve used hashtags on the key words they want to make this advert quite targetted for chefs looking for employment in their locality.
The tweet also links back to the full job advert. So, an interested chef can click the link and get more in-depth information about the role.
As with all social media, adding an image to your tweet will make it more likely to attract attention and stand out from other posts. Plenty of studies have been published about how using images helps boost a social media post, both on Twitter and Facebook. Please see this separate article on using social media effectively.
For more information, check out: 7 ways to best promote job opportunities on Twitter, courtesy of socialmediaweek.org.
Many pubs have a very active Facebook page with the added benefit of not being restricted to Twitter’s character count, so you can make your chef advert as long as you like.
Here’s an advert our friends at the Victoria Inn, Salcombe ran for a head chef in September 2016. (By the way, the position was filled.):
Note the multiple mention of chef, the location, the fact the pub is award winning and the type of cuisine the chef would need to produce.
Remember, you can post the adverts more than once if needed. Even with a limited marketing /marketing budget, the option to pay for advertising on Facebook or Twitter might prove highly cost effective. Promoted posts allow one to reach a wider and more targetted audience (i.e. chefs looking for work).
Free Online Job Boards
There are numerous free job boards for finding a chef. BUT, some are better than others; to save you the trial and error, here’s five of the best free job boards for finding a chef.
Most free job boards allow you to post an advert for free, and then receive a list of applications. If you see an applicant you prefer and you want to contact them is when you will usually be asked to pay a small fee.
- UK Staff Search
Overview: The UK Staff Search is a free-to-use jobs board for both recruiters and job seekers. And it’s a pretty user-friendly site too.
It has 300,000+ new users each month and a high return rate. For the hospitality industry alone, they received over 62,000 searches in a recent one-month period.
Free features: You get to post job vacancies to UK Staff Search and its affiliated job sites, plus use UK Staff Search’s CV search facility.
Paid-for features: If you want to get the contact details of the chef, you will need to pay a small fee which varies from 92p to £11 depending on the proposed salary (the higher the salary, the higher the fee).
Overview: CVbrowser is a promising option for publicans looking to employ a chef free-of-charge.
There are a large number of chef vacancies already being advertised on the site – a sure sign that the site is a strong performer in this sector. The paid-for options also look good value with clear pricing points should you want to make your advert stand out and reach more chefs.
Free features: CVbrowser allows you to post job adverts for free and also view most of the applicants CV – such as location, education and employment history. Also, upon first joining you get two free credits with which to contact applicants. Your job adverts also get aggregated to other free jobs boards.
Paid-for features: After your free contact credits are used up, it only costs £1 to contact each subsequent applicant. To increase your job adverts exposure, you can buy a sponsored option for £10 per vacancy. This also gets your job sponsored on other premium sites and free contact details are bundled into the package (which means you don’t have to pay an extra £1 per contact).
Overview: One of the largest online job boards in the recruitment sector, Indeed has a vast network for advertising your chef vacancy and also has one of the easiest sign-up processes. The site is often top of the page when people search under relevant terms on Google.
Free features: As with other key competitors in the jobs board market, you get to add your advertise your vacancy for free. You can also view CVs for free.
Paid-for features: Again, costs come into play when you want to contact an applicant – and at £1 per contact, it’s rather good value.
You can also increase the visibility of your advert by paying for the ‘sponsored job’ option. The benefit is that your job advert will be prominently positioned at the top of search results so interested applicants can see it more easily. The amount you pay depends on how many people click on your advert (usually at a rate of £0.12 – £0.70 per click).
- Chef Quick
Overview: Chef Quick is the only one in our list which is a specialist in the chef industry. Each vacancy uploaded to the site is also automatically included on Indeed and Universal Jobmatch – the Government’s own jobs portal.
Free features: You can post three 14-day adverts per month without charge.
Paid features: A featured ad is charged at £55+VAT and ensures your job ad is placed at the top of the page under any relevant search. It also gets greater prominence on social media (the advert is accompanied by a picture and for every day your job advert is live it gets shared afresh).
ChefQuick also features three different packages for employers requiring a high recruitment volume.
Overview: Careers4a is a busy looking site with plenty of chef vacancies being advertised. Its popularity with recruiters is no doubt due to integration with multiple job posting providers, including: Broadbean, Jobmate and Logic Melon among others.
Free features: Job posting is free and that includes coverage on affiliate sites. Which means that your free advert will attract plenty of potential chef candidates.
Paid-for features: At the time of writing it isn’t entirely clear where paid-for options kick in. One can assume there will be a fee for contacting applicants, as with the other “free” job boards.
Use Your Local Job Centre
Despite cutbacks by the Department of Works and Pensions to the Careers Service and Job Centres, for lower level roles such as kitchen porter, cooks and in some cases very experienced chefs. Much will depend on the nature and quality of the cuisine you are offering your customers. The best thing, of course, is the Job Centre will advertise for and (hopefully) filter appropriate applicants for you at no cost.
The downside to using your local Job Centre is they are not specialists in the catering industry and their ability to distinguish between the different levels of chef and you run the risk of having to wade through umpteen CVs etc. of totally inappropriate jobseekers.
Using A Professional Paid Recruitment Service
Another route you might consider is using one of the many catering industry’s employment / recruitment agencies.
Much like the Job Centre, these commercial agencies will advertise for you and only send you candidates who meet your brief. I would certainly consider using their services for higher level chefs. The advantage of commercial agencies is their intimate knowledge of the catering industry, with the added benefit of many suitable chefs registering with them as their preferred method of job-seeking.
The obvious disadvantage of using another business to help your business is they will requiring payment for their service and assistance. Typically fees can range from 10% to 25% of the salary you are offering and depending on the level of chef.
To find an agency local to you (and the national agencies) follow this link to The Catering and Hospitality Recruitment Agencies Directory.
When you do get to the interview stage here’s a handy free download of Chef Interview Questions you might find useful.
If you really want to delve into more, then this article by Tim Capper at Chefs World is a detailed look at many of the issues facing recruiters and chefs.