We’ve chewed over the subject of chef job advertising together before, recently I was inspired [translation:enraged] by a chef job ad that encapsulated everything that’s broken about chef attraction strategies in the catering industry. Having fully vented on that episode, this time I’d like to suggest a more positive and constructive approach to the matter, with, hopefully, beneficial results for you i.e. the chef job advertiser. Perhaps a less misleading title for this post would be Chef Job Advertising: why you should at least make an effort, or maybe even, Chef Job Advertising: make me want to work for you.
Bonus: Absorb the lessons of this post and help yourself to some free chef job advertising on us. Just go here to learn more.
Advertising has always been about attempting to create desire in the target audience. This is something so obvious it seems redundant to point it out, and yet when it comes to chef job advertising, based on my own extensive, but entirely unscientific, research it’s something that seemingly needs to be hammered into Hoteliers, Caterers and Restaurateurs. All too many of them don’t put in the effort or don’t see why they should have to. To anyone who still needs convincing that we’re in an era of chef scarcity we’ve a lot more to say on the subject over here.
Chef Job Advertising: Don’t Make Me Want to “Not” Work for You
Yet for some reason when it comes to Chef Job advertising there seems to be a presumption by, some, employers that the desire for what they are selling [and yes they are selling even if they don’t know it], a Chef Job, or more specifically “their chef job” already exists and is so strong that’s there’s absolutely no point in bothering to make it seem in any way, shape, or form, attractive or interesting? Hopefully by the time we are done here I will have persuaded at least some of you, with chef jobs to fill, of the upside to making your job advertising appealing to Chefs.
To kick things off lets try a little mental reframe first.
Catering Employers Already Know How to Advertise
Suppose, for a moment, you were planning an advertising campaign to attract more customers to your restaurant, would you begin by baldly stating the opening and closing times, location, admissions policy, code of conduct, or the average spend you expect them to drop before leaving? No! You would not, no restauranteur or hotelier or caterer would ever think of doing this. Instinctively they understand that such an approach makes their business unattractive and unappealing to customers. Again, instinctively, they take into consideration their target audience i.e. customers and shape their message in terms designed to seduce them into visiting their businesses. And yet the same people, Hospitality employers, very seldom (there are certainly some very honourable exceptions) think in terms of massaging their advertising copy for Chef jobs in such a way as to showcase their business as an exciting, progressive and rewarding place to work. We’re assuming it is at least some of these things. If it isn’t then there’s more urgent priorities to be attended to than Chef Job Advertising.
Learn to Take Advantage of Other’s Terrible Chef Job Ads
It’s precisely because so little attention is paid to Chef job advertising copy that there exists a really huge opportunity for those employers with the imagination and the chutzpah to take a different approach. They are the ones whose advertising copy pops off the screen amid a sea of depressing and uninspiring chef job ads and will at least, sometimes, move a high-value chef to apply for their job.
Treat Chefs as if They’re Potential Customers
Chefs are no different in this respect to your customers, both Chefs and customers appreciate a little bit of seduction, at least occasionally. I sometimes suspect that another reason employers resist even attempting to make their chef jobs sound attractive is that they are worried about attracting too many unqualified applicants. The fact of the matter is that this will always be an issue there is no perfect formula for avoiding it. However that is a much higher quality problem than not enough applicants, or indeed sometimes not any applicants at all. Which problem would you find more vexing? If it’s the former please read on.
Discover the Chefs You’re Missing
Unless you know what a really good response looks like, the chances are you probably assume that your “calls to action” are doing as well as it’s possible to get. But if you are not making a serious effort to make your chef job, and place of work, sound attractive and enticing then you are missing out; it’s only just that you don’t know what you are missing out on. You never know how good that Chef CV or resume – the one that you didn’t get – really is, because, er, you didn’t get it, so how could you know?
Learn to Move Chefs Who Are “Unready” to Move
So who exactly is this audience of Chefs who look at chef job ads? It’s not as narrow a pool of Chefs as you might imagine. Of course unemployed Chefs, and soon to be unemployed Chefs, will be paying close attention to all Chef job ads, even the ones that make no effort whatsoever to seduce them. Many of these will apply for jobs that look in no way tempting whatsoever. But they are not the only Chefs looking, far from it, there is another demographic entirely who check out Chef job ads. These are the grazers, they’re flirting with the idea of changing job but if they are going to apply for anything they will be looking for a good “come on” line.
If you want any of these prize assets to apply for your chef job vacancy you are going to have to give them some reasons why they should apply. Do you have any? No? Then your problem needs a fix that better chef job advertising can’t offer, fix them first and then drop back and reread this piece. On the other hand if the answer is yes; yes you do have compelling reasons why a chef should come work for you, then you’re going to have to shout those reasons out loud, or at least make sure they’re spotlighted in your job ad.
Get Comfortable with Bragging About Your Jobs
It is here that I think a lot of employers become stuck. They are perhaps not comfortable describing their business as a great place to work, or perhaps they believe they shouldn’t have to. Because the competition for good Chefs is now such a bloodbath it really is time to either overcome or to dismiss these reasons for sticking with the status quo because they are holding you back and what’s worse they are hurting your business.
Little Reasons, Big Reasons…EVERYTHING COUNTS!
It’s time to do an inventory of reasons why your business is a good place for chefs to work. Some of these might be banner reasons, i.e. The kitchen has won awards, your Hotel is Five Star (don’t assume everyone knows these details already), you’ve won official recognition as a quality employer, you’ve a great training program, or the salary is killer, if it is then say what it is. And don’t assume the little details don’t matter, they do. So, for example, do you supply uniforms and launder them for your Chefs? Yes? Then say so, this is a chore for Chefs and not having to do it anymore might perhaps be the tipping point between applying for your vacancy or not applying.
Chef Attraction Inventory
- Salary…say what it is! Fuzzy language such as negioatable is a major turn off
- Is your business in town? Do you offer parking? Say so.
- Is your kitchen well staffed? Say so.
- Do you supply uniforms? Yes? Then say so.
- Do you launder chef uniforms? Yes? Then say so.
- Do you have live-in accommodation? Say so (be explicit about any relevant terms or conditions that apply)
- Can you assist with finding accommodation? Say so. This can help draw in people who might consider relocating.
- Was the last incumbent in the job for a long time? Yes? Consider mentioning this as it’s a value raiser.
- Do you an in-house pension plan scheme? Yes? Then get this in to your copy too.
- Gym and health club memberships? If yes then, again, highlight it.
- Is there anything especially attractive about your rostering such as “no split shifts”? Once again don’t blush when it comes to bragging about it.
- Is there a bonus scheme? Yes? Then mention this, along with the salary.
- Are tips pooled with the kitchen? Yes! Say so. No? Consider pooling tips with the kitchen and then brag about it.
- Quality Employer recognition? Then shout about it.
- Prestigious affiliations such as Leading Hotels of the World, Relais et Chateaux, Small Leading Hotels of the World? Get this into your copy.
- Food awards: Michelin, Gault Millau, AA etc? Yes? Then don’t miss the opportunity to mention it/them.
- Kitchens been recently refurbished or refitted? Yes? Then squeeze this in too.
- Have a particularly well structured “on boarding” program? Yes? Then provide some details.
- Closed, partially or completely, for Christmas (or Rosh Hashanah, or Ramadan, or Deepawali or Ashura etc)? Then find a way to work this into your copy too.
Help a Buddy Out…Please
The above list is by no means exhaustive so if there’s something I missed then please use the comments section below to tell me about it….please….because I’m forever hungry for whatever chef hiring, and advertising, best practices I can discover.
Stick to the Truth in Advertising
No amount of re-plastering can fix a wall whose foundations are crumbling, that’s why seductive chef job advertisements must be accurate as much as they’re seductive and attractive. You’re advertising because you have a chef vacancy. If your very attractive job advertising copy is very attractive only because it conceals problems then you’ll most likely be going back to market to find another chef again pretty soon. Very quickly your business will become “one of those places always looking for chefs.” Don’t let that happen. Make your business the best possible place for chefs to work and they’ll want to work for you. Make your business the best possible place for chefs to work and then, when chef job vacancies do arise, you can, and certainly should, feel confident about putting together virtually irresistible chef job advertising copy, chef job advertising copy that just screams “apply now.”
Photo by sfreimark