Tales of a Pub Recruiter


“I recruit for pubs” I explain to an enquiring neighbour as we socially distance across the garden. I notice the wince; the fledging look of ‘oh dear’ in his eyes and the hesitance in his ‘I’m sure things will be fine’ response.

Tales of a Pub Recruiter

I found out recently that the word crisis comes from the Greek “to separate, to sift” which means to pass judgement, to keep only what is worthwhile – and thought that very apt in this current climate. How we have sifted and separated need from necessity in all aspects of what we do, from shopping to travel to learning to separate ourselves from the ordinary. How our last-minute weekly takeaways have been replaced by homecooked meals, how our essential daily walks have increased our fitness. How our budget (excluding food) is being managed with renewed diligence. I ponder the question further… Is there an opportunity in every crisis?

Many would say Pub Recruitment is in a crisis, some may say that demonstrating the viability of a business that may well end up being partially paralyzed, a challenge too far. But then there are others…

Others who see that this is a nation that will need its pubs more than ever. A nation that will be coming out on the other side of this with a renewed appreciation for dining out. A nation that needs an escape (get me out of this house!), a place to meet our friends, families, and communities. We are not naïve enough to think this will be anything other than a long and painful process with many hurdles to face, however, we do believe that there is willing and determination from future operators to take on this challenge.

However, as a business that has been central to pub recruitment for over 11 years, with a database of over 25,000 applicant’s we have a clear snapshot into the current mood of our applicants. Whilst we believed we may like many of the pub businesses that we service be teetering on a commercial cliff edge; the reality has been more of a sloping yet controlled slowing down. We have seen visitors to the website decline in numbers, of course, but we have also seen that there is still interest. Despite operating during the national shut down, a pandemic and no doubt on the cusp of economic chaos we have still sent out over 300 pub specific applications in April. We have still seen over 24,000 unique users on our website, and we are hosting around 20 live chats a day! We also see a positive progression in all these stats so far in May. This should be a clear indicator to the industry, that below the surface we still have the talent and the people wanting to see our sector recover. These candidates aren’t naïve they see the scale of this challenge, but they also see the opportunity.

Furthermore, we asked a random section of our applicant database a few questions, one of which was if they were still interested in running a pub in the future, we held our breath… but the responses were very clear. Of more than 800 responses received nearly 90% said they are still interested in running a pub in the future.

I am not delusional, we will face many challenges, I do not believe the road to recovery for our industry will be clear and without some significant interruption. But what I do not agree with is the notion that recruitment is over, that it is a stretch too far based on the candidates we are engaged with. I am having positive and constructive conversations daily with future publicans who not only see the benefit of continuing their search but are using this time to hone their skills and knowledge further.

This should bring some comfort to our nation’s pub operators that at the end of this there will still be talent out there, the talent that we can nurture and support to help repair the many cracks created by COVID-19 of that, I am confident.

Rachael Nixon