November 22, 2022

How To Write An Honest Job Description For Restaurant Workers: Part 1

When you hire staff members for your restaurant, do you clearly outline the job details of the position they are interested in? Is your description real, accurate and honest? I think it is more than worth the effort to reevaluate and maybe even re-invent the job descriptions you use and how they get shared with new hires. If we are honest and accurate when hiring people, they are more likely to be a better fit for the job, stay longer and be happier in the position.

This article is the first of a four part series. This one is about why thoroughly and honestly explaining the job to a prospective employee is important. The next three articles will go into detail about  the “how-to” of creating and communicating what the job is to potential staff members.

First things first, 

  • Take some time to stop and watch the floor at different times and consider how you would describe it to someone in a casual conversation.
  • Look at the systems you use currently (POS, menus, sidework sheets) and ask yourself if every item is accurate.
  • Get input from your staff. They are the ones that know what the job is better than anyone else.
  • Think outside of the box a bit. Honest and accurate details come from different angles. What is it like to do the job? What is the best part? What is the most challenging?

What’s important for potential team members to know?

There are three main areas that I think are vital when it comes to good descriptions of a restaurant worker's job. I think it's important to clearly outline what a normal shift will be like, what the culture of the venue is like and then, the traditional part: responsibilities and duties. 

What does a normal shift look like?

Outlining the day-to-day activities and what a normal shift looks like, feels like and how it might vary helps the potential employee decide if they will be a good fit for the venue. It also gives you a chance to gauge their reactions to some of the things that are part of your particular restaurant.  If someone is a bartender used to working in high-volume nightclubs from 12-3am, they might have a different set of expectations than what they will find in a steakhouse bar program that stays moderately busy from 5-11pm. 

Describe the way your team integrates (or doesn’t) on the floor. How do bussers, runners or back waiters work with servers? Or do you have none of these roles? Tell them. Be honest and accurate. How and when do you cut staff on slow nights? What happens when it's busy and you are short staffed? Be real, be honest, be accurate. Pay attention to what they ask and how they react. You will both benefit in the long run. 

What is the culture of your venue?

The restaurant culture is an important part of a job description. You, as the owner or manager, should have a clear understanding of the culture. If everyone works part time and has other priorities, that creates a very different atmosphere from a family-run venue with low turnover. 

Not everyone wants to be a part of the kind of culture your restaurant has. It is a smart business move to avoid hiring those that don’t want to be in your environment. Don’t look at it as a statement or judgement of you, or of the applicant. What matters is finding good staff that fit with your team. Offering a clear and honest description of what working there is like allows you to do better hiring. Don’t be afraid to ask them directly if they think the culture is a fit, and make it clear how important that honesty is for you. 

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What are the responsibilities of the job?

Outlining the specific responsibilities of the job is a big one. In many ways, you would think it's the easiest one. In my experience, however, managers have a very hard time doing this. Now, you might say that outlining responsibilities for servers and bartenders is repetitive - they make drinks and wait on tables. But come on, you work in a restaurant, you know how many moving parts there are. And no two restaurants are identical, so how can you expect a new hire to know what you expect of them? Be honest and be clear. Use the steps I mentioned above and take the time to re-invent this part of the job description.

Be honest and direct, gain an edge in the industry.

The point is, a lot of hiring managers don’t have a clear understanding of what they want each person to be taking on. In today’s restaurant industry, managers need every edge they can get to hire good staff and keep them. Revisiting, and maybe re-inventing how you describe the job to new hires can give you that edge. Good leaders are clear about what each job truly involves, and what it feels like to do the job on a daily basis. Build a team of people who truly fit in your venue, starting with the way you explain the job to them.

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