Internally nurtured, never poached
While many firms are worried about anaemic business this year and are consolidating staff, the city's hotel and restaurant sector is booming, offering fresh opportunities and excellent career prospects.
After the successful opening of an Italian restaurant with American celebrity chef Mario Batali, restaurant group Dining Concepts (Hong Kong) is expanding again and hiring a large number of people to staff three new restaurants.
'I have openings in June, July and November - a total of four openings this year,' says Dining Concepts managing director Sandeep Sekhri. 'I'm looking for close to 200 staff.'
He adds that with about 550 people in the company, the group's 5 per cent attrition rate - already one of the lowest in the industry - means that he is constantly on the lookout for 25 to 30 people.
'Hiring is a constant process - hiring, training, retaining. It is a challenge. In the past 18 months, human resources have been the biggest challenge,' Sekhri says.
With the number of his restaurants going up from 18 to 22 this year, Sekhri is going to increase his workforce by another 40 to 50 per cent, and those people all have to be assimilated into the company almost at once.
A steakhouse opening in June will need a team of 50 to 60 people. Another BLT Burger branch, opening in Times Square in July, will require 30 to 35 people, while an Italian restaurant opening in November - also in Causeway Bay - will need 70 to 80 people.
Recruitment for key posts starts about two months ahead of opening, compared with six weeks for positions such as manager, supervisor, receptionists, cooks, waiters and waitresses. Sekhri says they can offer exciting career prospects and training opportunities.
'We like to promote people internally. We like to grow and nurture people and let them grow. It gives me huge satisfaction to see someone start as a waiter and now handle several restaurants,' Sekhri says, adding that for the group's latest opening, 30 to 40 per cent of the positions were filled through internal promotions.
'We don't poach people. We hire people who are leaving or are already available to us,' he adds, referring to the practice of some competitors who leave name cards with capable staff to entice them to leave.
Training relates to food and wine, the point-of-sales system, and standard operating procedures.
High performers who are promoted might even have the opportunity to train in the United States, as it happened before the opening of Al Molo at Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Batali's restaurant.
Food and Beverage
F & B Director
HK$40,000-60,000 (10 years +)
HK$18,000-25,000 (5-8 years)
HK$15,000-18,000 (3-5 years)
Waiter/waitress (with tips)
HK$9,000-12,000 (0-3 years)
Source: Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades