Restaurants: Meet Employment Demand & Build a Dream Team

Food-service employment demand growing, job-seeker interest low

The restaurant industry has seen a tremendous rebound from the economic downturn of the previous decade, and that growth has propelled full-service and quick-serve brands to expand their retail presence. This holds true for huge franchised brands, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and locally owned chains, such as Austin’s own Torchy’s Tacos, and the store growth has, of course, led to significantly more employment opportunity in traditional culinary destinations, such as NYC and San Francisco, as well as markets that had formerly been less appetizing. The truth is simple: young consumers are spending more at restaurants than they are at grocery stores, and most signals point to that trend continuing. While restaurateurs, franchisees, and franchisors are all reaping the benefits of serving the millennial generation, finding talented team members who cater to the high expectations of this young audience is critical to sustainable brand growth. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to staff restaurants, quick-serve and full-service alike, with experienced, dedicated talent. The brands that are able to build experienced teams will benefit on all fronts from diligent recruiting.

Competing for talent in the restaurant industry

With recruitment becoming more competitive in the industry, restaurateurs and franchisees need to prioritize hiring practices as a key differentiator between their brands and the competition, and most know that their staff is the key to success. Owners can feel trapped in their current hiring process because efforts to branch out from job fairs, walk-ins, and open interviews have failed to produce value at scale. However, competing on hiring can be one of the most effective and fruitful strategies an owner can employ – most just don’t know where to start.

Here’s the truth: building the perfect team can take years, and it’s incredibly challenging.

Here’s the key: start hiring more intentionally today.

If restaurateurs continue to rely on open interviews and walk-ins, they are doomed to limit their teams to the same quality of hires they’ve always made. If they find outstanding talent through these antiquated processes, it’s more of an anomaly than a predictable, repeatable success. Many full-service and boutique restaurant owners are frustrated by hiring and training chefs with minimal experience, only to see them leave to work elsewhere. Most quick-serve employers would say that they hire primarily students and inexperienced staff and view that employment as temporary from the start. The hidden cost of the high-turnover approach is astronomical, and the fact is that there are experienced candidates in almost every demographic – the food-service industry at large has settled for ineffective, expensive recruitment and trained owners to expect talent to walk in the door and ask for a job.

Great teams will not assemble themselves. Restaurateurs and franchisees must take a more active role in staffing.

Finding and fast tracking food-service talent

It’s possible to reach and attract experienced candidates with the help of job boards and referrals, but in order to identify them in your candidate pool, you’ll need hiring tools to evaluate and interview all applicants effectively. An applicant tracking system is a great place to start, and routing all applicants, regardless of where they applied, into a central system will reduce uncertainty about referrals and provide a basic framework for the hiring process. Leveraging an ATS is just the beginning, and building a repeatable process for management to follow is crucial. However, where restaurateurs and franchisees can become more competitive is by reaching out to promising candidates faster than the competition.

The concept is simple; job-seekers typically apply to more than one restaurant or business, and fast-moving hiring managers will have an edge on the competition by scheduling interviews first. This is why CareerPlug offers Fast Track. We encourage our food-service clients to determine their core criteria for evaluating talent and fast track applicants who meet those criteria to an immediate interview, enabling them to get ahead of the competition and quickly meet with experienced applicants. For instance, if a restaurant owner is looking to add a junior cook with at least a year of kitchen experience, we help speed up the process by surfacing the experienced candidates as soon as they apply, allowing our client to immediately schedule interviews. In some scenarios, responding to top talent promptly will make all the difference, and when restaurateurs are looking to handpick a phenomenal team, it’s critical to identify experienced talent without sifting through hundreds of resumes.

Build your dream team with CareerPlug

CareerPlug’s user-friendly hiring system offers a comprehensive menu of branded careers pages, job post distribution, mobile friendly applications and assessments, pre-screen questions, fast track, and paperless onboarding, plated with dedicated support to help your restaurant make hiring easier. We exist to help you assemble your ideal team, and we are committed to that goal, every step of the way. Connect with a hiring expert today!

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Kacie was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology.

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Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

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Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

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Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.