Editor’s letter: Bakeries go online
April 1, 2022
By Colleen Cross
Finding and keeping competent, reliable staff is still at the top of most bakeries’ list of challenges.
The pandemic threw bakeries, cafés and food service a curve ball, but the hiring challenges you have faced over the past five years have not changed. This is the finding of a recent joint study by the American Bakers Association and the American Society of Baking of recruitment trends and best practices.
Identifying talent pools and building awareness about baking manufacturing careers have remained top recruitment challenges for hourly skilled and unskilled commercial bakery positions.
What has changed is that baking employers have expanded their recruitment strategies. These strategies include creating formal employee referral programs, using social media and hosting virtual or in-person local career fairs to attract employees.
Online job boards were the top recruiting strategy in 2021, according to the study. Nearly 100 per cent of employers polled said they were using online job boards, such as BakingWorks.org (or to give a Canadian example, the federal government’s job bank) to recruit hourly skilled production positions and 90 per cent said they used them to recruit hourly unskilled production employees.
Social media has become indispensable to bakeries large and small in communicating with customers and attracting new customers. It makes sense that bakery businesses use it to attract potential new employees.
LinkedIn started as a business networking platform and quickly became a platform associated with job seekers. More recently it has focused on recruitment by offering paid recruiting services.
Some bakeries have taken their help wanted ads or posts to social media platforms where their target job candidates spend time, for example, on Facebook and Instagram. These ads deliver a similar message to the help wanted newspaper classifieds that people of a certain age still remember well.
They also deliver the immediate satisfaction of a click and quick response for job seekers. Same message, different format – one that allows you to appeal to specific groups of candidates.
At no cost, bakeries can post text and a photo, and even a simple graphic not too full of text. For a more sophisticated campaign, paid services help you create an ad and target specific demographics and keywords that people use to identify themselves, for example, “culinary student.”
But it’s not just the way people are looking for skilled and unskilled staff – it’s the types of candidates employers are targeting. The ABA/ASB study found that the number of baking companies with some or considerable focus on recruiting “second-chance” or formerly incarcerated workers has increased greatly from 38 per cent in 2016 to 78 per cent in 2021.
Such candidates can be promising job candidates, as we learned when talking with Kurt Evans, chef, mentor and advocate for formerly incarcerated people in our October 2021 issue. Says Evans, “I can’t generalize or put people in a box, but I do see a common thread: the undying need for redemption. Sometimes they want to show you they are not who are they perceived to be. That need comes with a level of work ethic that is unmatched.”
Baking and culinary school programs, of course, are a key pipeline for staffing. The number of baking employers who have relationships with two-year technical colleges and/or vocational high school programs has increased in the past five years.
The BAC’s Bakery Showcase April 10-11 in Toronto is an ideal place for such connections to happen. Have a look at this year’s Showcase guide starting on page 33. Attend the show, check out our panel on Thriving in a Labour Shortage where experts will tackle
these issues and more.
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