In this ongoing series, The Fix, we look to problems faced by real companies and how they solved them.
Jardiniére, a French-Californian restaurant in San Francisco led by rising star chef Traci des Jardins, is always on the lookout for new talent. "We pride ourselves with being an educational house," says general manager Stephen Cox. "Working for us is like getting a master's degree in the culinary and hospitality world. It's tough, it's fast-paced, and we operate at a really high level."
The last time Cox went looking for new talent, he posted a $75 ad on Craigslist for a service assistant. "This was essentially for a busser," he says, "and we received 225 applicants within the first 24 hours of posting the ad. Of that, it was mixed with perhaps some qualified applicants, but also Nigerian money scams."
Sorting through the results turned out to be a waste of time.
A little over a year ago, Cox decided to post an ad on PoachedJobs, a job site for the food and beverage industries. For $25, the service provided Cox with a personalized dashboard that grouped applicants by ad, allowing him to easily distinguish between applications for servers, kitchen staff or management positions, instead of forcing him to wade through hundreds of separate e-mails. The Poached interface let him flip through résumés quickly (rather than having to download each one individually), while database tools helped him rate, sort, filter and search.
Poached operates in 10 U.S. cities and aims to roll out nation-wide this spring.
The restaurant has posted 10 ads and hired 12 people through Poached. "With Craigslist, we were reaching B and C candidates who we would have to invest a greater amount of training in," Cox says. "With Poached, we were attracting A candidates, people who would be prepared to do the job on day one, people who were looking for a career rather than a paycheck."
Cox says Poached continues to pay dividends after a hire is made, thanks to lower turnover. The restaurant has a 90-day trial period for all new hires, and he contends that employees who've come through the job site are much more likely to survive that test than those hired through Craigslist.
A Second Opinion
Carrie Luxem, president of Chicago-based Restaurant HR Group, likes the potential of Poached but cautions against managers putting all their eggs in this one basket.
With the exception of management candidates, whom she contacts via LinkedIn, her company uses a variety of media outlets to find the best applicants for hourly positions, such as placing ads in bilingual media, contacting culinary schools and using social networks.
"We put as many of the specifics in the ad as we can," she says. "Then we have the applicants go and apply directly at the store."