A good person is hard to find. But a good restaurant manager? Even harder.
The best managers are chameleons, adapting their role, skills, and responsibilities to suit whatever the restaurant needs. Building the staff schedule and managing payroll? You bet. Busser out sick and need someone to clear a table? On it. Dealing with an unhappy customer? Like a pro.
It’s easy to paint a picture of the ideal restaurant manager, but what happens when your best manager gives their two weeks notice? Or you decide it’s time to have multiple managers on the team to distribute the workload? Hiring is a non-stop challenge, and finding the right people can seem impossible — unless you know where to look.
Here are six places to find great candidates when you need to recruit for open management positions in your restaurant.
Where to Find Restaurant Manager Candidates
Figured out exactly what you’re looking for in your latest open restaurant manager position? Great. Fleshed out the position with a value-driven job description and list of skill requirements and responsibilities? Even better. Now it’s time to start your search.
Post the job on hiring websites and online job boards
You can start your search for your next great restaurant manager by going old school and sticking a “Help Wanted” sign in your window. You can also post the job on the Careers section of your website, if you have one.
But once you’ve done that, you can extend your reach by identifying and attracting ideal candidates. You likely won’t discover your best candidates by chance or coincidence — you’ll have to get your hands dirty and do some digging.
Tried-and-true recruitment channels include hiring websites and online job boards. Here are some job boards specific to the restaurant and hospitality industry:
And here are a few hiring websites and online job boards that, while not industry-specific, are very popular:
Posting open positions on job boards like these is a great way to recruit candidates who are actively searching for a new role.
Promote the job on social media
Speaking of job boards, you can also use your restaurant’s social media profiles to announce and promote open restaurant manager positions. If you have a LinkedIn account for your restaurant, you can pay to post jobs there. And if you have a Facebook page for your restaurant (which you likely do), you can post jobs there, too.
You can also share job posts from your restaurant’s pages across your own personal social media channels — someone in your network might be interested or know just the person for the job (more on tapping into your network below). You can also encourage your team members to share the post and any information about the role with their friends, in-person or on social media.
Some restaurants also give their job posts an extra promotional boost by running Instagram or Facebook ads that alert public audiences about open roles.
Directly source experienced candidates
While you wait for ideal candidates to respond to your job posts, you can also actively go out and find them yourself on sites like LinkedIn.
People who’ve been in the industry and have years of experience (the people you want for your restaurant manager position) likely have a LinkedIn profile, with information about their work experience and background. That’s what makes it such a great place to search for and find job candidates.
Go to LinkedIn and enter the position you’re looking to fill into the search bar — in this case, it would be “restaurant manager.” Then, click on the “People” filter to identify people who currently have that job title. You can even add a filter by location, which will pull up a list of people who are restaurant managers in your city or town.
See who the results turn up and check out their work experience. If it aligns with what you’re looking for in a strong candidate, send them a friendly LinkedIn message. Ask if they’re seeking new job opportunities and succinctly explain what makes your restaurant such an attractive one to work for. Even if they’re not looking for new opportunities right now, your first impression will stick with them. They might even know a friend or coworker who could be a good fit.
If you take the time to hire (and train) people whose values align with yours, you won’t be replacing them any time soon.
Tap into your network
In addition to all of the methods we covered above, you can also simply tap into your immediate network for personal references.
Do you know people who work in restaurants in your city or town? As long as you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes, ask them if they know of someone who might be a good fit for a manager position.
Have regulars you trust? Ask if they know anyone and if they can broadcast the position to their networks. Ask anyone you can — your produce distributor, your butcher, anyone you trust and think might know someone who’d be a good fit. Personal referrals can work wonders to lighten your hiring load. And speaking of referrals …
Implement an employee referral program
You’ve posted the job across the boards, you’ve done your own recon, and you’ve asked around your network. Now it’s time to turn to your team — this is where an employee referral program can help.
An employee referral program — a recruiting and hiring strategy where your current employees refer people they know for open positions (and get rewarded for it) — can help alleviate some of the pains of hiring, and help you identify strong candidates.
If you have an employee referral program in place, you’re already off to the races. For a more senior position like “restaurant manager,” you might want to focus on candidates referred to you by your existing managers or other members of your leadership team — though other members of your staff may have worked with great managers in the past who they’d be willing to refer.
There are plenty of stats to support the effectiveness of employee referrals — from reducing hiring time to improving the quality of the hire — but there are also risks. Hiring only the friends, family, and coworkers of your employees can create a hiring bubble, so it’s important to keep the program open and to make sure you’re seeking out diversity.
If you’ve never implemented an employee referral program before, no worries — we’ve got your back. Check out our helpful how-to guide, which will show you the ropes and teach you the best practices of building an employee referral program.
Promote from within
Think of your existing restaurant staff as an untouched diamond mine. While you’re out searching for the ideal candidate, the right person could be under your nose the whole time. With an existing employee, you’ve already done the work hiring and training them, and hopefully you’ve built a team you trust and believe in. But if you want to cultivate your employees to become the diamonds of your team — your future restaurant managers and leaders — you have to offer opportunities for ongoing growth and professional development.
Why would you want to promote from within and encourage career advancement? Think about it: You already have employees who understand the ins and outs of your restaurant. You might even have employees who are dedicated, have been there for a few years and, during their tenure, have really lent a hand in making operational improvements. Employees who know the menu, who regulars love, and who are consistently driving revenue during their shift. These are the employees respected by their coworkers, who help to train new staff members, and who seem committed to the success and mission of your business.
But you shouldn’t just promote a stellar server or bartender to restaurant manager because it’s easier — there’s more to the role than that. They might have trained some new employees before, but will they be able to reinforce training standards consistently moving forward? Will they be able to do this in a way that drives positive change, or will others feel like they’re being micromanaged? Will they be able to transition to a position of authority, or will they be too concerned with how their colleagues view them now that they have more power?
You also have to determine whether or not your employees want to be promoted to a manager-level position and are ready to be promoted to a manager-level position. Conducting an interview for the manager position with your current employee (like you would a new hire) can help you get answers to some of these questions.
Promoting from within (when done right) can establish a positive, healthy staffing culture within your restaurant. Offering your team opportunities for professional development and, by extension, career advancement in your restaurant will create an environment of trust and encourage high performance. And it might even give your employees a reason to stick around longer, too.