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What’s the single-most important ingredient for food and beverage companies when hiring Food Safety personnel to the team?

Best practices for hiring food safety talent

Here’s another installment of our Best Practices series – Best practices for hiring food safety talent.

What’s the single-most important ingredient for food and beverage companies when hiring Food Safety personnel to the team?

When we’re asked what are best practices for hiring Food Safety talent, we always track back to one crucial ingredient – it’s this:

The senior-most Food Safety officer takes full responsibility for the recruitment and onboarding of each of its team members.

“But isn’t that HR’s job?”

“Isn’t that the Talent Acquisition team’s job?”

“Isn’t that what our internal recruiter is supposed to take care of?”

As an executive recruiter that’s asked to transform Food Safety teams through new hires, I can say with 100% conviction the answer is NO.

It’s your job as a Food Safety leader to make sure every step of the recruitment and on-boarding process, from the first connection with the potential candidate all the way through their first review, is performed flawlessly.

Here are some key benchmarks of a well-executed recruitment process.

The candidate and Food Safety leadership team have clear expectations of what business impact the new hire will have.  I write about developing effective PERFORMANCE PROFILES, not TO-DO lists when developing a job description for your opening HERE.

The candidate’s compensation expectations are aligned with the company’s capabilities, both in the short-term as well as in the future.

Each member of the Food Safety team is “on the same page” during the interview process – there’s a level of coordination and “everyone has a role and responsibility” that leaves a favorable impression on the candidate that “this is a strong Food Safety team and one I want to be a part of.”

The hiring team, because it’s been so thorough in its due diligence, has no underlying concerns about their decision.  Using pre-hire assessment tools that objectively assess thinking style, behavioral traits AND a candidate’s genuine interest in their work and responsibilities is critical.

The new hire knows when their first review will be, who it will be with, and what benchmarks they’ll be assessed against.

Offer, acceptance and start date are presented, accepted and committed to in less than 3 days.

What happens when YOU don’t take ownership of the candidate and new hire experience???

When asked to describe why they left a role after less than 6 months, the most often heard reply is that the Food Safety leadership and/or recruiter promised something during the interview process and once on board, everything changed.

Another complaint that arises is that elements of relocation packages, sign-on bonuses, on-boarding and training are either not executed or not coordinated as had been promised during the interview process.

In the Food Safety space, an oft-held complaint is that the confidence and conviction of Food Safety leadership during the interview process disappears when the new hire arrives; the new hire experiences a lack of respect shown to Food Safety personnel and their leadership team retreats in the background and doesn’t provide cover for the on-the-ground team.

It’s unfortunate but true – a mis-step in the recruiting and on-boarding process in an otherwise flawlessly executed hiring process can have drastic consequences on a new hire’s experience.

Imagine a meal at a 5-Star restaurant with family and friends that goes off flawlessly, only to find out the next morning that half your guests are in the emergency room with food poisoning.

It’s no different when a new hire’s on-boarding experience destroys the goodwill that was created during the hiring process.

In Talent Acquisition, a flawlessly executed hiring process, followed by an on-boarding experience that aligns with what the new hire was promised during the interview process is the key to future employee referrals – no area of a food or beverage company needs more strong employee referrals than Food Safety.

It’s also a big part of why Food Safety staff can act with confidence calling out protocol violations or unsafe practices playing out in plants or with suppliers – when trust and goodwill with senior Food Safety leadership is in place, the Food Safety team can do their job knowing their boss “has their back.”

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