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Attracting Restaurant Talent Through Brand Storytelling

It’s no secret that it takes a lot of time and work — OK, OK…blood, sweat and tears sometimes too! — to attract and hire the right people for your restaurant’s concept. And while it can be time-intensive to get started, it doesn’t have to be this way forever or break the bank once you settle on a recruiting and hiring system that works for you.

Just consider the amount of investments, in terms of time, energy and money, that you spend on marketing campaigns to attract new customers. Now, consider how differently your roster of prospective candidates would look it you spent this same effort on advertising to attract talent. I’d venture a guess that you would be blown away by the quality of candidates you’d find — or the true beauty of it is that those candidates would find you!

So how is advertising for talent different than simply placing a job ad? Well, recruiting top-notch talent all comes down to brand storytelling.

Brand storytelling in 4 simple steps  

So you might be thinking, “I want to operate a restaurant, not write a story.” And you’re right. You don’t need to be a wordsmith, but you need to have a concept or overarching theme in mind — and on paper doesn’t hurt either — that ties into each and every single thing you do, say and serve in the restaurant.

And that begins with crafting your brand’s story. No novella required. Instead, we can break this down into just four simple steps.

  1. First, answer the question: What makes your restaurant special?

Think about the struggles you may have faced to even get to this point, the emotional or ancestral connection to the recipes or how you hope customers feel when they both enter and exit your restaurant. You’re looking for that special “thing” that sets you apart from every other brick oven pizza place out there. Find that thing and hold onto it for dear life.

  1. Now, use those answers to create your “story.

In your own words, tell your story. Center it around all of those things that make you special and try to be as descriptive as possible here. Emotionally-compelling words and phrases are where it’s at. Remember, you draw in loyal employees the same way you draw in loyal customers — by connecting on an emotional level.

  1. Fine-tune the details.

Once you have, essentially, a rough draft of your brand’s story, you’ll need to do a bit of work to dial in the details. You can work with your marketing team in-house or even hire a creative/advertising agency to help you get this streamlined and ready for public consumption.

While you may be hesitant to drop cash on this type of project, I promise you, it will pay dividends. And better yet, it works. It humanizes your company. Prospective employees, and even current ones, can see that you’re no longer just a place to punch a timecard, but that you have real opportunities and experiences to offer your team.

  1. Share your story.

You’ve done the work and now it’s time to roll out your story (AKA job ad) for all to see. Consistency is the key here, so be sure to share it far and wide across all of your marketing outlets. Social media is an incredibly powerful platform to use to attract talent — Instagram, YouTube and Facebook can all be worth your while. You can tailor your viewing audience with targeted ads and, many times, cross-promote your posts on additional social media platforms.

Share the ad with your team and encourage them to distribute it via social media too. Also, consider posting it on your company’s website as well as to college and online job boards such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

As your ad and story make the rounds, prospective employees will get a deeper sense of your background, who you are as a company and employer, your unique culture and the characteristics of employees who will thrive there. By clearly identifying those things and laying them out in a compelling manner, you’ll drastically increase your odds of connecting with like-minded candidates.

The bottom line

As a restaurateur and business owner, it’s important to always remember that people — from your employees to your customers — want to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s up to you to make it abundantly clear why that thing should be your restaurant!

And as always, make sure you have a plan in place to retain all of this top-notch talent you’re now attracting. I’ll cover those tips and more in my next post.

Carrie Luxem is a human resources professional specializing in the restaurant industry. In 2010, she founded Restaurant HR Group where she partners with dozens of restaurateurs to take care of their greatest assets — their people. With a career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Carrie is frequently sought out for her modern, yet simple and effective advice and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Restaurant News, and Independent Restauranteur. Connect with her on social media or learn more at  

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