Senior level recruiters at Sarasota-based EHS Hospitality Group had a doozy of an assignment waiting for their new colleague, Kristen Pace, when she started working at the firm late last year.
The task: Pace had to find an executive chef for a new Spanish gastropub in Miami who not only speaks Spanish, but is from Spain and immersed in Spanish culture. “They threw me to the wolves right away,” says Pace, who was previously in real estate and worked for a Chicago-based firm that recruited advertising executives.
Pace went straight to the phones. She cold-called more than a dozen Spanish restaurants in and around Miami and asked to talk to the chef. If she got resistance, she sometimes said she wanted to thank the chef for a great meal she had there. Once Pace got through, she talked about the job and found out some background about the chef.
Pace was successful in her quest. She found two qualified candidates, and one interviewed for the position.
While that's an unusual example of poaching, Pace and some of her EHS colleagues say creativity like that is key to finding the right candidates for a position, especially one so super-specific. Research before the search is another important factor. “Learn as much as you can as to what the client needs,” says EHS Hospitality recruiter Malcolm Bell. “The more you know, the quicker the process is.”
Also, sometimes poaching a good candidate means not only knowing the client's needs, but being well-versed in what a candidate can do. EHS vice president of operations Scott Rosenthal says that happened when he placed someone in a sales position for a Clearwater hotel. The candidate was a restaurant operations director, and she had no sales experience and had never worked in a hotel. But
Rosenthal says this candidate was “like a can of Mountain Dew” and perfect, in attitude and desire to succeed, for what the hotel managers sought. She has since been promoted twice.
- Mark Gordon