Inside the Mind of a Top Hospitality Recruiter: Du Val International’s CEO Explains How Employers Can Hire Smarter for Culinary Roles and How Chefs Can Find Their Dream Job
Alabama-based Du Val International Inc. has focused exclusively on chef placement for nearly half a century. The company has placed Master Chefs in kitchens throughout the US, as well as chefs in a number of the country’s Governor’s Mansions.
Today, Du Val’s diverse client roster spans the hospitality industry. This is a recruiting firm with a track record of sourcing Executive Chefs, Sous Chefs, Chefs de Cuisine, Tournant and Chef de Partie for restaurants, resorts and casinos as well as country clubs, city clubs and individuals seeking Private Chefs for their homes.
Du Val International is also skilled at placing hybrid positions, such as an Executive Chef who also serves as Food and Beverage Manager. With a database of more than 5,000 chefs, Du Val’s vast talent pool can easily be cross-referenced to meet any employer’s specific criteria for a hiring prospect. However, President and CEO Maxine Du Val also narrows the field by personally vetting potential candidates with an extensive interview process.
“As a recruiter, I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to sourcing chefs for my clients,” Du Val explains. “I may only send a client three to five resumes because I’ve spent the time honing in on exactly what my client is looking for, zeroing in on their specific needs.”
Career Advice for Job Seeking Chefs
Equally as important to Du Val is candidates’ ability to have frank discussions with her. Her primary expectation of the chefs with whom she works is their ability to have an open dialogue with her. She understands that no one wants to be seen in a bad light – that’s only human. But, she says, a strong line of communication with candidates is still needed in order to understand where they are professionally, where they want to go and how she can help them along the path. While she expects candidates’ resumes to clearly state their educational background and professional experience, she also expects them to discuss:
- Short- and long-term professional objectives
- Salary requirements for their next position
- How they define the job they want compared with the job they currently have
- Their willingness to relocate
- The conditions under which they work best, as far as the type of environment in which they thrive as well as if they work best as an individual or as part of a team
- Their overall strengths and weaknesses
- What they want in a new position
- What defines a “deal breaker” for him or her
- Where else they are currently interviewing
- If they are capable of doing the job required of them in the position for which they are interviewing
- If they’ll be a fit in a potential future employer’s culture and work environment
- Their personal interests outside of the kitchen
Resume Advice for Chefs
Du Val recommends chefs to create resumes that are no more than two pages if possible. Each resume should communicate a chef’s unique story, including their education, as well as a job history of where they’ve worked and their position/title and job responsibilities with that employer. Resumes should also include specific skills, accomplishments and awards. “Be accurate, concise and don’t write a book,” she says. “You want to hold back on details that can be expounded upon during a job interview.”
Du Val also requires candidates to fill out an online application that will provide the company with additional and even more distinct profile of each chef candidate so that potential job prospects better dovetail with each chef’s interests and career goals. Additionally, Du Val asks candidates to send a cover letter along with their resume.
She is also exacting in her expectations of what a cover letter should communicate. “I ask candidates to send me a brief synopsis of their career history that tells me what they enjoy doing as a chef and where they would like to see themselves down the road,” she notes.
Targeting a specific industry segment where candidates want to continue their careers – such as country clubs or restaurants – can be helpful. However, Du Val also recommends that job-seeking chefs not cut themselves off from other possibilities that could broaden their professional experience and make them more valuable to future employers. “Learning is crucial to every chef’s education, so they should be open to and flexible about taking on new experiences,” she says.
Candidates who are successfully placed by Du Val International Inc. also benefit from the company’s continuous counseling. The company realizes that candidates’ expectations of a position don’t always align with the reality that the job presents them with once they enter the role. So Du Val can act as the mediator between newly hired chefs and their employers, smoothing out the kinks that are at times an early stage of new professional relationships. Du Val also maintains relationships with chefs throughout their careers, assisting them as they move ahead into roles such as Food and Beverage Managers as well as General Managers.
Customized Client Strategies
Du Val's detail-oriented approach to recruitment is also cost-effective to hospitality employers who won’t need to invest additional time and resources in screening potential candidates but can instead dedicate that time to their normal day-to-day business. Du Val notes, “the recruitment process can take valuable time away from our clients’ regular daily duties at work, so we save them that time and the associated costs by conducting extensive chef searches on their behalf.”
Of course, Du Val’s experience in chef recruiting also allows her to bring an advanced level of expertise to the candidate search process. However, her experience also brings a more objective perspective to the recruitment exercise, especially at a time when chef credentials are evolving.
Du Val points out that education requirements for chefs have changed tremendously. Although education is paramount, she also believes that experience is the best teacher. One must also continue their learning experience to stay on the cutting edge and be knowledgeable about changing trends in the food industry. “There are a lot of chefs out there that think that because they can cook, they’re a chef,” she says. “But that’s not necessarily the case.”
She also assists employers in "sorting the wheat from the chaff" while working closely with each client to outline well-defined candidate qualifications to meet the client’s specific needs. In fact, Du Val notes that one of her clients’ greatest challenges in recruiting chefs is drafting clear-cut credentials that prospective hires must have in order to find a precise fit for the professional kitchen where they’ll be working.
She points to private club board members who often guide the venue’s hiring process. “Often, a group can have varying ideas about the type of chef they want, which can create a gray area that isn’t always congruent with the type of chef that will be the best fit for the organization,” she says. The key is comprehensive knowledge of the club’s membership, their palette, the menus that have been successful with them in the past, their ages, and professional backgrounds.
Similarly, public venues that host meetings and events will want to consider not only the future direction in which they may want a new chef to take the kitchen, but also the menus and dietary practices that the resorts’ group clients have historically demanded. Does the property do a lot of wedding business that requires a chef who is patient with budgeting brides? Has the property earned a reputation among groups for its vegan offerings?
“Having an open line of communication and a very candid conversation with the employer in order to understand where they’re coming from and the goals as far as the chef they want to hire is how my team and I can best serve their needs,” Du Val says.
When working with both clients and candidates, Du Val International Inc. is highly focused on the details and understands that, to achieve the best job fit, employers must realize that candidates are more than just a collection of skills and competencies.
“We pay close attention to the whole candidate, even the aspects of that person’s background or personality that someone else might overlook,” says Du Val. “We do this because those details often determine whether or not someone is a good fit for a position, not just skills-wise, but also culturally. This is one of the biggest keys to hiring smarter and one of the best predictors of long-term retention and job satisfaction.”
For more information about Du Val International and their services, visit https://duvalinternational.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Du Val International on Facebook and LinkedIn.
(Sponsored by Du Val International)