Cape Cod employers battle to hire seasonal staff

Harwich Port, Mass. — Time is ticking for business on Cape Cod to hire summer staff, and due to a shortage of seasonal employees, competition to hire is becoming a battle between employers.

At Brax Landing, a popular restaurant in Harwich Port, the owner says representatives from a nearby resort came in and tried to recruit his wait staff.

“We had people from CBI come in, have a meal, and leave our server a card that said we were impressed, come join our team, explaining that there was a $250 signing bonus,” Jeffrey Gomes told Boston 25 News on Friday. “It’s a tight-knit community and you don’t go poaching people from other places. It’s pretty simple.”

Gomes later posted a picture of the recruiting card to Facebook, garnering a lot of feedback on social media.

“If he wants to find people he can run a job fair, go online, take out an ad, Craigslist, Internet, anything. You just didn’t go from restaurant to restaurant, picking and choosing who you wanted to come work for you,” he said.

Boston 25 News reached out to the media relations spokesperson at the Chatham Bars Inn on Friday but didn’t hear back.

The Chatham Bars Inn did respond to the viral post on Facebook, saying:

Many Cape Cod residents have more than one job, especially during the summer. As part of our recruiting efforts, we encourage anyone in the local area to apply with us for a second job to boost their income. (It has come to our attention that the message on our recruiting cards may have been misconstrued.) We are thankful to be part of the vibrant hospitality industry on Cape Cod and will continue to support the local community and fellow businesses as we have in the past.

Gomes told Boston 25 News that he didn’t believe the intent was for his employees to receive a second job.

“People are allowed to have a second job, they certainly are. Go find one. It shouldn’t come to your work to find you,” he said. “It’s about the ethical way of going about finding employees, and that’s it. And that’s not it.”

Cape Cod’s seasonal employee shortage comes during an absence of foreign workers on J-1 Visas.

At Red Jacket Beach Resorts in Yarmouth, it’s shaping up to be a summer like no other.

“It will most likely be the biggest summer in the history of our resorts,” said Matt Pitta, director of communications for the Davenport Companies, owner of 5 resorts in the area.

Pitta said they have hired about 65% of the seasonal staff they need for peak season.

“This is our bread and butter season here on the Cape so we have to do everything we can to hire people,” he said.

When it comes to customers, Pitta said patience is always appreciated as staff navigates the busy season.

“We were aggressive right from the beginning,” he said. “We’ve been pushing really hard with paid social media, paid local media, […] we’ve been reaching out to colleges, schools and universities around the area, places like Johnson and Wales that obviously have a big culinary program.”

Pitta said the focus is to hire local workers, and added that they are hosting a job fair on Wednesday, May 5 to try and get more workers in the door.

“It’s been very competitive and we knew it was going to be competitive right from the start,” he explained. “We really expect to be in hiring mode throughout the entire summer.”

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