Recruiting Young People To Your Hospitality Business Post-Covid – What To Look For In Your Candidates

When young people are looking for part time work at evenings and weekends or during holidays, many of them are drawn towards entry level jobs, especially within the hospitality and leisure industry.

If you are an employer in the hospitality sector in particular, you will be only too aware of the value that young students and school leavers can bring to your business.

When you employ part time staff, some of these young people will also go on to build a career in hospitality once they graduate or by doing relevant Apprenticeships.

The Pandemic And Its Effect On Hospitality

As we all know, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the hospitality industry in the UK with venues being forced to close their doors.

Now, finally, bars, restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues and other businesses that play their part in the hospitality sector have now begun to operate again as restrictions are gradually relaxed.

This means the recruitment of young staff can once more begin, be it in full time careers or part time, flexible roles. But it isn’t proving to be easy filling the many vacancies out there and this is especially true for restaurants and other eateries who need to recruit chefs and front of house staff.

With restaurants, pubs and cafes now being able to serve customers indoors, thousands of employees are needed to serve them and prepare food for them.

According to this BBC news article, UK Hospitality says there is a shortfall of almost 200,000 workers and they have called on the government to be more clear and certain with the easing of restrictions.

They say it is the uncertainty that is preventing people from committing to applying for those vacancies. Why apply for a job in a pub or restaurant if you think it might need to close again in a few weeks.

Another factor that is playing a part in the shortfall of staff in the hospitality sector is Brexit. Especially in cities, many front of house roles were filled by EU workers. Many of these workers have now left the UK.

UK Hospitality would like to see the government investing in the hospitality industry by promoting roles and the types of meaningful careers that can be had in the industry so that homegrown talent is attracted to the sector.

As young people are the ones who have been most adversely affected throughout the pandemic with regards to employment, it is they who the hospitality sector can now look to attract to the sector.

Recruiting Generation Z

In a previous article, we addressed measures you can take as an employer to attract young staff who are members of Generation Z.

Unlike some previous generations, Generation Z are different in that these young people are looking for long term job security and for you to invest in their career development. It’s no longer about what you can offer by way of fun and perks.

So, once you have adapted your recruitment policy to attract post-millennial young people to apply for your roles, you need to make sure you are taking on the best people for your roles.

What To Look For In Young Candidates During The Application Process?

Whatever types of hospitality jobs you have on offer, what should you be looking for as your candidates work their way through your application process?

If you are advertising part time hospitality jobs for students and young people then you might only have the interview process where you can make decisions as to your candidate’s suitability for the job.

For your graduate roles or Apprenticeships, other opportunities could present themselves where you can pick some clues in other areas of your application process. This might be an open day or an assessment centre, for example.

Often, young people don’t have any previous work experience to add to their CV or to discuss with you in an interview and this can make your task as a recruiter all the more difficult.

The pandemic has exacerbated this situation – just as your current team of staff may have been furloughed until restrictions were eased, young people have been unable to look for work even if they wanted to find a job.

Employers need to also bear in mind that, as well as a high chance these young people have not been able to do part time or fuşş time jobs, recently, many won’t have school or university experiences to draw on as a replacement for lack of work experience.

Because of Covid, both job seekers and employers are in a unique and difficult position.

When you are recruiting young people, look for:


Remember, there is a strong chance your candidate has no work experience to draw on when they are trying to give you examples of their reliability. Graduates have also missed out on work placements and internships as a result of the pandemic.These have been ideal platforms for young people to use when offering examples.

Interviewers need to be more creative, as does the interviewee. How can you ask a question that gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their reliability? After all, you don’t want to spend time recruiting someone only to find once they are in their role, they are going to turn up to do their shift.

With so much time away from school or university, young people can be encouraged to give you examples of their reliability from things they have done in the home. Perhaps they have been relied upon by parents to help out with younger siblings doing home schooling. Or maybe they have helped out with local charities, delivering parcels to those in need.

Is Your Candidate A Team Worker?

Again, there is a strong chance there has been no opportunity for work experience, for your candidate to work with friends on a project or to do any team sports.

Encourage your candidate to think of times at home where they have worked as part of a team. Obviously, if they have been a part of school or university teams for sports or other projects, they can draw on this.

Young people are, of course, familiar with online communication so there could be examples to draw on from here where your candidate might have worked with peers on a virtual project. Indeed, you may even be carrying out your interviews virtually.

Opportunities for communication with peers face to face will have been limited for young people during the pandemic. Offering training or mentoring when they do get into the workplace can help to rebuild the confidence of your candidate.

Is Your Candidate An Honest Person?

Obviously, honesty and integrity is important in all workplaces but in the hospitality industry, your young staff are going to be given the responsibility of handling money and doing credit card transactions. In hotels and other types of holiday and business accommodation, they might be entering people’s rooms.

References and, where necessary, a DBS check can be a good indicator for honesty but you can also ask your candidate whether they can provide any examples of a situation where they demonstrated their honesty. This could be a situation where they found a purse or wallet full of money and credit cards and made sure it got back to its owner or took it to the police, for example.

Is Your Candidate Comfortable In A Diverse Work Space?

The hospitality industry lends itself well to diversity within the workplace. The good news is, if you are interviewing candidates who are members of Generation Z, these young people are likely to actively be seeking to work in a diverse place. They might be asking you how you, as an employer, make sure your business is diverse.

And, when it comes to the hospitality industry, it’s not just about diversity amongst your team of staff. Hospitality is all about dealing with clients, customers and guests. Excellent communication skills will be necessary for your candidate when dealing with people from various walks of life and of all ages.

Because of the pandemic, bear in mind that young people may have had limited communication with a broad range of people, face to face, for the last year or so. Some support and training might be necessary to help them settle into their role if you offer them the position.

There are thousands of young people out there looking for part time work and full time careers. If you have vacancies to fill, why not advertise them via e4s and reach the best young talent across the UK. Click here to post a job and you could soon have top candidates applying for your roles.

Read Next: We asked one of our current student interns for her thoughts on this subject. Here’s what she said