We originally wrote the below post in 2014. Back then, we could never have anticipated the challenges of the last 12 months, and just how impacted the hospitality sector would be.

Server in a cafe or other hospitality business, holding a plate of food

For many hospitality recruitment teams across the country, work is likely to still be on hold. We are also very aware that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will be long-lasting for much of the industry.

So, although we’ve dusted off this old blog post and given it a fresh face, we know it may be a while until hospitality recruitment can resume.

When businesses are able to reopen and recruitment levels begin to pick up again, the below tips may be useful.


Hospitality recruitment: How to beat your challenges


With statistics suggesting that staff turnover is costing the sector £2.7m a year,* businesses may need to rethink their recruitment processes to ensure they attract and retain suitable staff. Can technology make a difference to hospitality recruitment?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) could. Recruitment systems come in all shapes and sizes, but most should allow you to carry out essential tasks such as posting your vacancies, screening candidates and sending bulk emails.

Here, we look at five key hospitality recruitment issues for hotels, restaurants, caterers and more. And we explain how an Applicant Tracking System could make a difference…


1. Volume of applicants

The challenge: Candidates email across various documents in different formats, and some still drop off hard copies in person.b It’s up to you to then sort through every application, opening every attachment and filing every paper copy. You can’t cross reference each candidate’s skills or experience, and sometimes it’s not even clear which role they’re applying for. Not to mention potential issues around Data Protection!

The solution: Your ATS supplier should create a careers site (we often call this a candidate portal) for you. Candidates can visit your careers site to view all available hospitality jobs and to apply online. As for those hard-copies that still come in? You should be able to input data from a paper CV and create a new candidate in your ATS. With all your candidates in one place, you can easily review, compare and make a decision about who is suitable for your organisation.

Psst. Remember we mentioned Data Protection? Well, with an ATS you should be able to establish your legal bases for processing candidate data, and be confident that your data stored is securely.


2. Managing your recruitment agency

The challenge: Your hospitality recruitment agency is a huge help in sourcing excellent candidates. But it’s still up to you to review those candidates – and lo and behold, your inbox is bursting again with email CVs and applications.

The solution: Your ATS should include an Agency Portal. This will allow your recruitment agency to log in to a section of the system and upload their suggested candidates. You can review their suggested candidates and add your comments or progress from within the ATS.


Can your ATS do this? If not, and you’re ready to move on from your current Applicant Tracking System, download our ‘Choosing an ATS’ guide

Choosing an ATS guide promotional banner

And if you haven’t got a recruitment system already in place, it’s also a great resource to help you get started on your selection journey!


3. Screening candidates

The challenge: You’re receiving lots of CVs but a number of candidates are either lacking in fundamental skills or are not eligible to work in the UK.

The solution: An ATS should include a robust set of screening tools. For example, you should be able to set pre-selection questions that candidates must answer. Those that don’t meet minimum requirements or essential criteria cannot progress with their online application, so you don’t have to spend time reviewing unsuitable candidates.


4. Retaining talent

The challenge: Holding on to staff details should be simple, but when they’re stored on email or as hard copies, finding them can be an issue. And what if you get a fantastic speculative application when you don’t have any positions vacant, but something crops up a few months later? How do you dig out that candidate?

The solution: An ATS should offer a Talent Pool function, which allows you to store the details of candidates you wish to hang on to. This means that whenever a suitable vacancy crops up, or you’re faced with a sudden skills shortage, you can quickly and easily recall past candidates’ details and contact them.


5. Empowering Hiring Managers

The challenge: Your Hiring Managers are best placed to review and identify talent for your organisation; but they don’t have the time (or, perhaps, the inclination!) to commit to the recruitment process. You spend your time trying to align your diaries for interviews, or chasing them for feedback on candidates.

Do Hiring Managers play a key role in your organisation? Download our Ultimate Hiring Manager Handbook for advice and guidance.

The solution: Some Applicant Tracking Systems will offer a dedicated Hiring Manager Portal. This should be a simple, intuitive area of the system where your Hiring Managers can log in, review applications and upload their availability for interviews. You want your Hiring Managers to be able to use your ATS with ease so that they are engaged with the recruitment process, and don’t need to ask you for support.


*bighospitality.co.uk 2014 statistics

Find out more

Discover the other tools and features Hireserve ATS provides.

Interested in engaging Hiring Managers? Read our LCC case study.

In these strange times, we’ve got tips for a remote ATS implementation.



About the author

Tristan Potter

From candidate experience to flexible working, and from supporting graduates to ATS reports; Hannah's written it all over the years! Hannah has contributed to publications as diverse as The Guardian, UK Recruiter and University Business. She is also the wordsmith behind our whitepapers and guides, from GDPR to Employee Volunteering.