The Taboo Subject of Headhunting Chefs in Ireland
Because we’re an Ireland based Catering Recruitment Agency we’re expected to be able to find chefs in Ireland (and further afield too) to order. One less spoken about means of finding chefs is headhunting and speaking from the perspective of being within the recruitment business I hope I can reassure twitchy catering managers that this remains one of the less frequently employed methods of filling holes in a kitchen roster. Even if headhunting didn’t exist, as a recruitment method, the inevitability is that eventually every chef moves on to new challenges and for the most part their decisions to do so are governed by their ambitions and whether they believe these can continue to be gainfully pursued in their current job. When chefs move it’s always because they believe they can do better elsewhere.
Headhunting Chefs, defensive or offensive?
So what conditions come into play in tipping a hiring assignment into becoming a headhunting project? Well the most frequent one is when a client asks specifically for this service. They have vacancies to fill and they’ve decided the best way to fill them is with chefs from businesses they admire. Mostly their motivations are defensive or benign, i.e. they’re about improving their own business. Occasionally though, the businesses a client would seek a recruitment agent to target might be competing businesses in their locality and the motivation is to both remove human capital assets from their rivals while strengthening their own proposition.
Careful not to get burned, leave this to recruiters
Normally any attempt to pull this off without the intervention of a Recruitment Agent is very hazardous, prone to backfiring and the downsides when it does go wrong can be both severe and very long lived. Using a Catering Recruitment Agency to handle such assignments really is a no brainer. The client gets their target and if there’s any sin to be eaten that’s something for the recruiters to endure.
Be careful not to sell your own catering business short
One thing that has struck me, on the occasions when we have been asked to undertake chef headhunting projects, is that very often the client’s choices, of the businesses they seek to relieve of some of their culinary talent (that’s chefs to you) can be rather modest. By that I mean they underrate their own businesses while overestimating the quality of the competition they seek to target. Notwithstanding the fact that the client is king, in such situations we often advise clients to consider allowing us to adopt other approaches; approaches to attract the type of chef capable of helping them raise the quality of their catering proposition above that of their local competition. In practice once we find the type of chefs who can do this for them the headhunting assignment, which we were originally approached with, almost never gets mentioned again. In the final analysis recruitment is about finding the best chef for the job and headhunting is only one of many means to that end.
Instinctive Vs Technical Chef Headhunting
That said Catering Recruitment Agencies will also use headhunting techniques to fill catering job vacancies without having been specifically tasked by a client to target in this way. Sometimes this is instinctive to a recruiter i.e. the moment the client hands you the job you have a strong sense you already know the perfect chef(s) to do it. Then it’s just a matter of getting in contact and pitching the position to them, always taking care to give an honest assessment of the business. At other times it involves quite detailed and exhaustive work profiling kitchens, the chefs who work within them, and then snagging yourself an introduction.
Chef recruiters go beyond jobs boards, because we must
Whether or not people within the catering industry in Ireland care to openly profess approval of these methods doesn’t change the fact that there’s a demand for them. Catering Recruitment Agencies are expected to provide clients within the Irish Hospitality Industry with solutions they can’t get for themselves, whether through print advertising or use of specialist Irish Catering Jobs Boards or any of the general Irish Jobs Boards. And because recruitment agents only get paid for success that drives us to give clients what they want.