The Hilton Cleveland Downtown opened last June, bringing 600 new rooms to the city ahead of the Republication National Convention. The property only had six months to fill 300 line-level positions. For a mass hire like this one, non-traditional methods work best. LODGING spoke with the property’s
HR Director, Kelly Rose, Training Manager, LuCiana Clark, and Director of PR, Carolyn Deming, to find out what strategies they relied on to pull off such a major feat.
What was the first step you took in the recruitment process?
Rose: When I came on board a year ago, the first thing I did was reach out to local organizations that help people find jobs. I met directly with their job developers to explain what we were looking for, and then they invited me to speak at their classes. We determined very early on that we were going to make a commitment to hire people who did not have hospitality or hotel experience and hire specifically on attitude versus aptitude.
How did you get the word out in the community?
Rose: I came up with the idea of a college-like approach of getting the word out, so we had five, one-hour session previews at our pre-opening office. People got to learn about the company and the different job openings, but more important, they got to talk with the actual people who were going to be hiring for these positions and rub elbows with them. It was really successful—more than 1,000 people came.
What kind of success did you see from your social media job awareness campaign?
Deming: We had Facebook and Twitter purchases, as well as online digital banner ads that ran from Feb. 8-27. On Facebook alone, we had almost 750,000 impressions, with almost 11,000 click throughs to the website. Social media doesn’t replace traditional recruiting methods, but it certainly helps get the right information into the hands of the exact people who need it.
During a six-day hiring fair, you interviewed more than 4,000 people and made 267 hires on the spot. What traits did you look for in these applicants?
Clark: We made sure we trained our mangers to have a conversation with these individuals and find out who they are as a person—if they had a great smile and an upbeat personality. We asked them questions like, what do you like to do in your spare time, tell me a little bit about your family, why did you choose the Hilton, and what have you heard about the Hilton, to find out how invested they were in this huge project we were trying to execute. That’s how we were able to get so many individuals who had a great hospitality mindset.
Can non-traditional recruiting methods be risky?
Clark: It is a risk to bring on board individuals for a new project who may not have experience in hospitality. But because we hired them prior to opening, every single manager in each department had an additional five weeks to train and educate them. Now that we’re up and running and we’re doing amazing, we’re into a more traditional recruitment process. We’re a little more strategic now in how we recruit for our applicants.