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Survival Guide: Hiring in a Brexit Economy


Brexit makes many jobs tougher to fill, with hotels and restaurants being among the hardest hit by limits on movement of EU and non-EU workers.  More focus will be on attracting and developing local talent in hotels, restaurants and retailers across the UK.

According to Gordon Ramsay, the Michelin-starred chef with his own restaurant chain and associated hiring challenges, “it’s going to get back to the modern-day apprenticeship. So not only do I welcome that kind of change, but I think it’s going to put a lot more emphasis on homegrown talent, which I think we need to do.”

The accommodation and food services industry, according to Mercer, “has grown by 32% since 2000 (ONS), with the bulk of the net new jobs going to non-UK born workers. It relies heavily on a large volume of low-skill employees and the nature of this work means that relocation to other countries is unlikely. Automation poses a problem: people like to be served by people and, as a people business, the industry’s demand for talent will increase...”  

Graph 1: Graph highlighting current workforce proportions by industry

Source: https://www.uk.mercer.com/news...


What you can do:

  1. Engage your team in the hiring process.  Ask them to share your job with friends and their own social media networks.  Good people tend to know more good people and this strategy requires no additional recruiting budget.  Sharing must be easy, and you must work in the domain where your team and candidates are active every day.  As simple as setting up a WhatsApp group for your team, making use of your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, you’ll find people coming to you as friends of your team members are often highly motivated and informed about your company, which often means they’re more likely to stay longer, too.  

  2. Boost your employer brand.  Once candidates land on your job and careers page, you’ll need to ensure your HR brand encourages good applicants to follow through with their application. Compelling stories about your team, culture and what makes you different as an employer help set you apart from a regular job list and search box.  

  3. Keep it real.  The bull***t radar of the Mobile Generation is finely tuned to ignore any language they find too corporate and they just click away.  If, like me, and you’re a HR professional in your 40s or 50s, don’t trust your own judgement on what great content is.  Be sure to ask people in their 20s what they think to your draft website.  Here is an example page we find inspiring: http://jobs.itsu.com/ with some obviously real team photos, a sketch of a typical career path, good team quotes and clear benefits.

  4. Attract talent from outside your industry.  While many recruiters are looking at the last employer on a candidate’s CV to be a recognised competitor, smart recruiters are focusing on personality and communication skills.  Making use of video selection tools and assessment days are cost-effective ways to identify traits you are looking for, backed up by a solid training and mentorship plan when they start work.

  5. Make sure your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is telling you where your best candidates are coming from.  Now, more than ever, you’ll need to be ruthless in cutting poor-performing advertising channels and testing new ones.  The results can be shocking.  If you don’t have an ATS to help you measure this, get one now!


Brexit will have a real impact on hiring and the UK workforce, but it’s lessons remind all recruiters and HR leaders everywhere about good hiring methods. Those who adapt, will thrive.  Those who don’t, will be starved of talent.


Ray Gibson, CEO, StartMonday

(lead image credit, Banksy, captured and edited by Reuters)

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