The food and beverage industry is essential, innovative, and exciting, but not everyone realizes the depth and diversity of job opportunities in this cutting-edge, growing industry. In WNY, we are surrounded by leaders in the field such as Rich Products, Wegmans, Tops Markets, Perry’s Ice Cream, Coca-Cola, and more. Many people are aware of these companies because of their career-building opportunities such as internships, scholarships, and management training programs. Local educational programs such as the Food Marketing Center of Excellence at Niagara University are also available to help train the next generation on the relevance of this industry.
But what do these companies need to do to recruit a strong workforce and present their fun, collaborative, and technology-driven cultures to more applicants?
First, every company must recognize that recruitment has changed over the past few years. People are online, exploring websites, LinkedIn profiles, and other job-search platforms to find positions and companies that are the right fit for them. Recruiters are connecting with prospective hires through emails and virtual meetings. Often, people are stepping into the office or meeting employers face-to-face for the first time on their first day on the job. Furthermore, many companies are still hiring remote employees, resulting in some people never seeing their office or coworkers in-person. Since geography is no longer a restriction, a much larger applicant pool makes the job search more competitive for applicants and more time-consuming for recruiters.
Given the ever-evolving hiring landscape, it is essential to understand the current recruiting trends. First, companies are going from being reactive to proactive. They are building out their websites and social media platforms, and utilizing their own employees to reach prospective applicants where they are. Current employees are providing testimonials, referrals, and word-of-mouth endorsements to show an inside look at the company’s culture and personality.
Along with providing a trusted brand image, employees can assist by bringing their personal connections and vetted applicants directly to the recruitment team. If your social media channels aren’t already featuring your employees and focusing on your company, now is the time to add that to your content strategy. Your employees are your best advocates, so it’s important to give them the tools (and recognition) to talk positively about your company and values on social media.
Lastly, one of the most important changes has been the increased desire to work for a company with a strong culture that aligns with your personal values. There is a need to build a unified purpose that reflects the company’s brand, values, and inclusivity efforts. Start by learning what the people at your company are passionate about, how you can create economic value, how to utilize your unique skillset, and how to fulfill a need in the community. A collective purpose will create a sense of interdependence between your community, customers, employees, and stakeholders.
Strong examples include Apple’s “to empower creative exploration and self-expression” and Wegmans’ “helping you live a healthier, better life through food” mantras. These messages provide a timeless aspiration that is relevant to both the customers and employees. Once you create the appropriate purpose for your business, it’s critical to commit to living those ideals by investing dollars and time to make actual change in your communities.
Once you have a good story to tell, you’ll want to add to your content strategy by featuring those efforts – tastefully and authentically and, once again, by shining the spotlight on your employees and community partners. This reminds your current and prospective employees that your business is committed to building your corporate culture along with bettering the world around you. Building this brand commitment is one of the most essential ways to gain the attention of applicants who share the same values and interests as your business.
It is important to educate prospects on career options in the food industry. It touches so many different departments ranging from manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, hospitality, marketing, retail, and a variety of other professional and business services, providing a space for nearly anyone.
Since the industry is essential and highly creative, its employees are often involved in exciting and fulfilling work. The food industry is exceptionally innovative with opportunities to utilize new technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. These technologies are already in use for tracking items on shelves, speeding up checkouts, organizing distribution, and monitoring plant growth. During the pandemic, there were many innovations that required quick thinking to solve big problems. Starbucks inspired many through their easy online ordering. This not only brought a new ease for consumers, but it also created a low touch experience to help people avoid crowded stores and long lines. Heineken created B.O.T, an AI robot used to transport their beer outdoors. Other ideas include experimenting with immunity boosters, meat replacements like cell-based meat, utilizing byproducts, and finding new super ingredients. There are endless future opportunities with the utilization of new ingredients, practices, and technological advances with grocery deliveries, restaurant service, and food engineering.
So, how do you attract applicants to the food industry? First, be proactive and share what makes your company unique. It’s important to promote the company’s purpose and culture both online and through your employees. Showcase your incentives such as remote work, PTO, internships, scholarships, flexibility, and any other training programs.
Second, illustrate how fun working in food can be. Do you have company events with your own products provided? Do you support local food drives and charities? Food and beverage is an exciting global industry that affects everyone with so many opportunities for personal growth, creativity, and innovation. Now just show what makes your company special.