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How to find qualified help?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I need to hire some help for my shop. I posted an ad on craigslist and have the job posted on my website but the bulk of the responses I'm getting are from (what appears to be) hobbyists whose friends must tell them that they are amazing but if I hired them, I'd be the weekly joke on cake wrecks.

I have NO IDEA what the going rate is for a qualified decorator (southeastern pa) and this is my first time hunting for employees.

I did get a quote for workman's comp insurance and am going with a part-time decorator to start. But I feel so lost with HOW to find the decent decorators with some experience, and enough natural talent/skill, that I can train them the way we do things without having to train them to HOW to decorate. I need capable and skilled.

Oh yea... the other thing.... I have gotten several people applying who already have a website and a business. Why would I want to hire my competition?

Help!!!??? How do I find qualified candidates? What kind of questions should I be asking them at interviews? How do I determine who is worth an interview? And does anyone here know of someone in Southeastern PA (northwest of Philadelphia (bucks county) that has some skills and needs a part time decorating job that doesn't already have a business and has a good work ethic and some integrity?)
-Stacey
Truly Custom Cakery, LLC

Website: http://www.trulycustomcakery.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrulyCustom
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-Stacey
Truly Custom Cakery, LLC

Website: http://www.trulycustomcakery.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrulyCustom
Reply
post #2 of 9
You should ask for their portfolio.

Apart from that I think the best interview is to hand them a dummy and ask them to decorate it...sitting at a desk and talking might deal with some issues but will not show you as much as the test.
post #3 of 9
Ditto what Irene said. A portfolio and seeing the decorating in action is important. Also, make sure you have some professional references that you can call. Pay attention to the job history-not necessarily the type of job but more importantly the duration of employment. You don't want to invest a lot of time and training into someone who is just going to bounce to the next job in two months.

It may be worth it to interview some who have websites. Maybe they are burned out...an interview would be your opportunity to ask them why they are seeking employment with you.

If I were you, I would call around to see what other bakeries are paying their employees. Before you do that, you should have a clear idea about the duties of the position. Is this someone who is just going to be doing grunt work (mixing buttercream, coloring fondant, and doing Wilton level I decorating) or do you want someone to do detailed sculpting and other cake artistry? You may consider starting out at a lower wage and then increasing based on the progress and skill after a given time. Another thing you could do is just do a basic Google search for salaries for decorators. It will vary based on location but it could give you a range at least.

Good luck!
post #4 of 9
If there's an art school in your area, that might be worth a try.

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post #5 of 9
I would check with your local pastry arts schools.
Look into getting an intern as well.
I get emails from people in the pastry arts program at our local culinary arts school quite often. icon_smile.gif

The great thing about cake is it doesn't feel like work. You forget about work. Kids, adults, they all get the same look in their eye when they're decorating cakes... That's the magic right there. ~ Duff Goldman

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The great thing about cake is it doesn't feel like work. You forget about work. Kids, adults, they all get the same look in their eye when they're decorating cakes... That's the magic right there. ~ Duff Goldman

Reply
post #6 of 9
Be prepared to find that your first choice may not be a good match and don't worry about making changes. Protect yourself with a trial period and be sure to understand employment law pertaining to unemployment comp, firing, etc.
post #7 of 9
My daughter just got a pastry chef job in NJ through Craiglist. The employer used a cite called Wyckwyrejobs.com which handled the online application. It seemed very efficient as she got a call within hours of applying. She had a verbal interview of about 45 min. and then they called her in to do a "bench test". She brought up one of her favorite cakes and decorated it in front of them. She also worked an full shift (5am - noon) for them (unpaid). It also helped I am sure that she is a Johnson and Wales graduate. Hope this helps and good luck.
post #8 of 9
I'm a decorator for a supermarket chain, and whenever we advertise for a decorating position, we always give the candidate a practical test with 8" layers, have them fill them, stack them, ice them, decorate, and write "Happy Birthday". We also are mindful of how much time it takes the candidate to complete it -- we had one woman (a hobbyist decorator, we presumed) who did beautiful work, but it took her almost an hour to finish icon_surprised.gif

The practical test also weeds out those who might have a gorgeous portfolio but, again, have no production experience.

OTOH we've had a few decorators who had worked they way up the ranks, perhaps as a clerk at first, who basically learned via the "monkey see monkey do" method (which is how I learned, btw). Right now we have a fairly new hire who's a fast learner and wants to know anything and everything. She definitely has the knack for decorating, so we're gradually giving her step-by-step tasks -- teaching her how to speed ice a cake, how to make borders, simple flowers, etc.

This new hire, as well as our other two PT decorators, are either friends of our employees or friends of friends. We've been incredibly lucky.

Good luck!
post #9 of 9
Oh yea... the other thing.... I have gotten several people applying who already have a website and a business. Why would I want to hire my competition?

I agree with AnnieCahill... I wouldn't rule these people out. They aren't your competition anymore if they work for you! If anything, I would think they'd bring their clients with them and you would get more business. Obviously, you'd have to make a contract clause or something saying they can't sell cakes on their own. If you want experienced candidates, they'll either work for the competition or be the competition, right? Otherwise they won't have any experience icon_smile.gif
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