When it comes to recruiting chefs the offer is the point where the tire meets the road, with the chef job interview out of the way, it’s the moment of truth and, sadly, it can sometimes go horribly wrong. Both parties, whether chef or employer, can, and do, break some fundamental rules which almost always results in an undesired outcome. We’ll be focusing on employer error in this post. It’s true that not every job offer results in a chef accepting the job, this is no different from any other industry, but in catering and hospitality there seems to be a tendency to play a bit faster, and looser, with important details than in other industries. The result is almost always negative and everyone is left to count the costs in wasted time and money.
When Things Go Wrong at The Chef Job Offer Stage
As a chef recruitment agency, focusing on chef jobs only, we make it our business to be scrupulous to a fault in terms of how we handle, and communicate a clients needs to a chef and how, and to what degree, the client is willing to pay a chef for meeting those requirements. It should be simple, but sometimes it isn’t. So here’s a short compendium of how, and how not, to foul up the crucial offer stage of the chef hiring process. This is by no means an exhaustive study and I’m sure we’ll be revisiting it in the future but for now it does showcase at least a few of the headline gaffs which cause both parties to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Never offer a chef less than what the job was advertised at
This one seems really obvious but yet it happens, it has happened to us and it has happened to our candidates. This one works like this, client contacts us, gives us the job details, including salary (or salary range), we attract interest in the position and arrange for client and prospective chef(s) to do an interview. With the interview out of the way the chef then contacts us to tell us how it went. This narrative sounds upbeat at least to begin with; the candidate chef tells us they’ve been offered the gig. We ask have they accepted it and the answer no comes back. We then ask will they accept it, answer again no. So we then get them to give us a blow by blow account of the interview and at some point we’ll get to the money and only then do we discover that they been offered less than the job was priced at. Not always do they give that as the reason they’re turning down the offer, very often the answer we get will by overly generalized and ambiguous. That’s when we know they didn’t appreciate being lowballed but just don’t want to say.
So what’s going on here then? It’s difficult to tell. We never price a job at more than we’ve been guided, EVER! Anecdotally we’ve all heard that this happens but we never do it, so why does the occasional client? We can only presume that they don’t think that what they’re really willing to pay will cut the mustard but by outsourcing “the lie” to a recruitment agency they can outsource the blame too. That may or may not work, we’re seldom present when the job offer is made, but what we can say is that it almost never works and it’s a good thing it doesn’t. No professional relationship should begin with a deception.
So while an employer might, or might not, just succeed in getting a recruitment agency to “eat their sin” by blaming them for putting the job “out there” at an inflated price (after all it’s very easy to blame the one party who isn’t in the room the moment the stunt is pulled) they almost never succeed in closing the deal and making the hire. This moment of truth often only arrives after a number of weeks of work have gone into bringing the candidate to the client and a too smart by half maneuver like this only ends up setting everyone, not least the client, back to square one.
If you’re even thinking about trying something like this then don’t! The chef doesn’t care who’s lying to them, agent or employer, all they know is that something about the whole thing smells a bit off and so the make good their escape. Who’d blame them?
Never Make a Chef a Job Offer Without Stating The Offer
This is a more common one and usually happens quite innocently. In this case the client assumes the chef knows the offer but the chef doesn’t. The offer hasn’t, in fact, been made. This misstep usually occurs because when the assignment was originally given to an agency, or even self advertised, the client may have put in a salary range i.e. €35K – €38K, or it may even have been marketed at a set price and the client, (in this case) not unreasonably, thinks that when they offer the job it will be assumed, by the chef, that the offer is exactly as written (in cases where an exact figure is quoted, as opposed to a salary range).
Now those two scenarios aren’t identical but our advice is the same, if you feel ready to make the offer don’t allow any aspect of it to go unspoken. If you do, you’re increasing the chance the chef will ask for some time to “think about it.” He, or she, may ask for some time anyway but you don’t want them leaving the room thinking there’s a whiff of amateurism in the air. Employers might protest that the candidate didn’t ask for clarification but that’s irrelevant in the mind of a chef who has other options. As far as they’re concerned while they may be in the interview process this is a process the employer owns and controls, not them, so responsibility for how it goes rests with the employer. Take ownership, state the offer, put a figure upon it, make clear what the position is and agree a start date and exit.
Don’t Miss The Opportunity To Put The Job Offer in Writing
Whether or not it’s possible to have the offer typed and sealed at the time of the final interview is one thing, in most cases you won’t, but don’t miss the opportunity to get it in writing and into your favored chef’s hands as soon as possible. If you have their email address and are dealing directly with the chef then get the offer drafted and sent within the hour. If you’re working through an agency then email the offer to them with instructions to close the deal immediately.
Even if you choreograph everything as we suggest there’s still no guarantee your offer will be accepted, offers can be rejected, but at least it’s the offer that gets rejected, not you and not your business. Offers can be raised, redrafted and redrawn, often with successful results, but if a chef you really need to have in your business goes walkabout because they don’t think they were handled correctly, or with respect, then no amount of course correction after the event will be enough to rescue the situation.
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