Advice for Finding, Landing a Restaurant Job
Baltimore Business Journal - By Rachel Bernstein
Baltimore restaurant chains are looking for managers, and John Hess has opened an office to help get you that job.
Hess, who worked in the Baltimore real estate market for the past 20 years, wanted a change of pace. With a little help of savings and friends and family, Hess opened an office, Patrice and Associates Inc., in August to cater to the growing foodservice industry.
Food research firm Technomic Inc. forecasted last month the industry will grow by 0.3 percent this year in retail sales, and grow by 1.7 percent in 2011.
Hess and his partner, Michael Feinberg, help match up restaurant managers and assistant managers with job openings in the area, and also help chains find the talent to fill managerial spots.
Locally, Hess says there are about 20 foodservice jobs he’s scouting for in the $30,000 to $50,000 pay range. Below, you’ll find a Q&A I recently had with Hess about the restaurant hiring trends.
About how many resumes and job applications do you get a day?
On an average day, it can be anywhere from 50 to 100. Somewhere in the 20 percent range are job seekers I can actually work with.
Which restaurants have the most openings?
Right now Panera Bread and Cracker Barrel are our largest clients. Panera has a lot of openings in Maryland. Applebees and Ruby Tuesday have openings.
How do you find the right person for the right job?
That’s the $50,000 question. Probably the one that takes up most of our time. We place ads on various [job boards] to get resumes. We sort through them and get back to qualified people. Those are the biggest sources of people. We also do cold calling, and try to find managers even in restaurants or around looking for advancement in their careers.
What are important traits for promising managers to have?
The main thing is stability. Most restaurants are looking for someone who has two to five years of management experience, and at least two years with a company. No more than two jobs in five years, and three jobs in nine years. Beyond that, looking for the experience. But we take resumes online at any time.
What chains do you see growing in the future?
Zoe’s Kitchen, in Annapolis and [Washington] D.C. We feel really good about them. It’s a small chain, but they have big ambitions to grow. I think they will in Maryland, and other large cities, like north to Chicago.
What do you see going on in the hiring part of the restaurant industry?
I’m optimistic there will always be restaurants. And they’re seeing sales come back. In the last year or so, some places that hired four managers maybe cut back to three or two. But now many of those restaurants are going back to their full complement of managers. Managing never stopped, restaurants just pulled back the reins and made do with less people. But sales seem to be increasing. That’s a good sign for the industry and the economy.
What advantages are there to working in foodservice versus other industries?
The biggest thing I see is that for someone without a college degree, you can advance and make a very nice salary. If you have a high school degree and want to be in the restaurant business, you can advance to manager, assistant manager, and make up to $100,000 without a college degree.
What advice would you give for job seekers looking to get their foot in the managerial door?
I face that every day with good quality people who don’t have the experience. I think the best thing to do is start working somewhere. Get a job as a server, waiter, kitchen, and try to move up. Tell them you’re interested in doing more, by helping with marketing or promotions or ordering. Most places will let you do that. And stability. Stay somewhere for a while, learn where you are. Don’t just leave in six months. That’s the biggest thing I can offer somebody.
Where do you focus on recruiting jobs?
Hess: We recruit nationally. We did set up the office here in Baltimore because we live here. So we try to focus here in Maryland, but we spend as much time for Philadelphia, Florida, Virginia. Wherever the people and the jobs are taking us.
What kinds of jobs do you recruit?
All managerial, salaried jobs. Assistant manager, district managers. That’s the niche we have. We have 600 job openings across the country and about 100 clients that we work for.