Indeed and OpenTable have formed a partnership in hopes of closing some labor gaps experienced by restaurants nationwide.

With a program called “Interview Days: Restaurant Jobs,” the two companies are launching a month-long U.S. hiring initiative in October. The initiative will provide free hiring tools to help restaurateurs source, screen, and host interviews, and a portal for job-seekers to find open positions and view resources for the restaurant industry.

Indeed is allowing participating employers to access its free suite of hiring tools, including job postings and interviews. Indeed claims those who conduct interviews through its resources hire 20 percent faster than in-person or other virtual interviews. Also, OpenTable created a guide with tips on how to hire and retain employees, and will provide free training and certification for hosts and managers. Employers can post food and beverage jobs during the hiring initiative until October 22. Eligible employers who make successful hires will receive a $200 Sponsored Jobs credit from Indeed.

“Throughout the pandemic, we focused our energy on tech solutions to help our partners survive and navigate changing protocols, but now, we need to bring awareness to the labor shortage,” OpenTable CEO Debby Soo said in a statement. “Staffing is one of the most pressing challenges facing restaurants today – we’re excited to partner with Indeed to help restaurants overcome this latest obstacle on their road to recovery.”

“With this hiring initiative, we want to help employers navigate the current labor market, using our resources to highlight their open roles and to help them hire job seekers interested in careers in the industry,” he continued.

The restaurant industry’s workforce is still 1 million below pre-COVID levels, according to the National Restaurant Association. Additionally, Indeed found that job postings for food preparation and service roles has increased 39.9 percent in the U.S. since February 2020. Meanwhile, OpenTable’s State of the Industry dashboard shows volume of diners has reached as high as 30 percent above September 2019 levels.

In August, the food and drink industry lost 41,500 jobs, marking the first time restaurants saw negative growth since the start of 2021. There were 11.3 million on payroll during the month, which is 1 million shy of February 2020. The U.S. saw a record-breaking 10.9 million job openings on the final day of July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with accommodation and food services accounting for a large portion.

Martha Hoover, who heads multi-concept company Patachou, Inc., is serving as the face of Indeed and OpenTable’s new program. In a blog post on OpenTable’s website, Hoover challenges the idea that restaurants are “merely places to grab meals.”

“Restaurants are much more than that. Restaurants create change in neighborhoods; they create change in cities,” Hoover wrote in the blog. “They are where world-changing ideas happen. They are also places of opportunity for those who work in them. We need employees now – that’s why I was happy to team up with OpenTable and Indeed to bring awareness to the industry’s ongoing labor shortage and help bring staff back to restaurants.”

As part of the hiring effort, Indeed partnered with Goodwill to ensure job seekers are aware of the initiative and have free resources like one-on-one coaching and virtual workshops.

“It has been an extraordinarily hard time for local restaurant and food service businesses,” Raj Mukherjee, senior vice president and general manager of SMB at Indeed, said in a statement. “When the pandemic hit last year, many had to shut down or significantly reduce operations. Now as they reopen and more people want to return to in-person dining, local restaurants and food service employers are struggling to hire enough qualified workers to meet the consumer demand that will help them rebuild.”

Consumer Trends, Employee Management, Story