A Guide to Recruiting Top Talent in the Gaming Industry
According to the experts, the Great Resignation has ended. Resignation rates fell to 2.4% across the United States in April of 2023, very close to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite this, many gaming industry organizations are still feeling its effects and struggling to find staff that’s a good fit for their teams. The reality is, recruiting the best gaming professionals is always a challenge, and the disruptions to the economy and job market over the past few years have only compounded this difficulty. If you have a critical position on your team to fill, here are some tips that can help you find and hire the right person for the job.
Identifying high-quality candidates
The first step to recruiting the best talent for your team is understanding what things you should look for in strong hires. This can be a challenge in the gambling industry. In part, this is because college degrees don’t matter as much as in other fields. In 2023, about half of casino gaming employees hold a bachelor’s degree, but about a third (34%) hold a high school diploma or GED as their highest education. In many cases, a professional certification is a more telling indication of the candidate’s skills than a college degree.
Because of this, a recruiter hiring team members for a casino will need to use a different approach to identify top candidates. Prior work experience in a casino can be a definite advantage, as can any past experience in a customer service or customer-facing role. This includes experience in retail, food service, or similar industries.
A skill-focused application and interview process is going to be the most reliable way to identify the strongest candidates. Among the top skills to look for in casino employees are:
- Communication – Strong communication skills are a must for any customer-facing role. These can be just as important for back-office positions such as marketing, sales, or accounting professionals, who will need to communicate with each other clearly to keep the organization running smoothly.
- Teamwork – The ability to work well with others is crucial in the gaming industry. Even a small casino has a lot of moving parts that need to function together for success, and you want to hire employees who will contribute to this.
- Problem solving skills – Casinos are a dynamic work environment where employees can face a number of unique challenges throughout their day. The best person for that role is someone who can handle these problems thoughtfully and independently.
- Flexibility – Many casinos operate as 24/7 businesses. Employees who are able to adapt their schedule to the needs of the business are particularly valuable for maintaining full staff levels and operations throughout this extended schedule.
- Empathy and emotional intelligence – Customers in a casino aren’t always on their best behavior. Gaming employees need to be able to keep their cool even in high-stress, emotional situations. It’s also beneficial for employees to see where customers are coming from, allowing them to better resolve and diffuse emotional situations to keep the environment fun and welcoming for other guests.
What do top gaming professionals look for in a role?
If you want to attract job seekers to your company, it helps to know exactly what they want from their workplace. There are a few ways to gather this information:
- Employee pulse surveys – Finding out what your current team likes and doesn’t like about your workplace can help you identify and define your value proposition as an employer, which in turn ensures you’re emphasizing the right things in your job postings and employer branding materials.
- Evaluate competitors’ job postings – Even if you can’t match industry leaders on points like salary, perks, or benefits, seeing what types of things they offer employees can give you a sense of what makes an employer competitive in the current landscape.
- Industry reports and data – Recruiting firms, professional organizations, and other groups dedicated to employment or the casino industry often conduct their own surveys and research that can be helpful for getting a big-picture sense of the current job market.
Compensation and salaries in the gaming industry
The typical pay for casino and gaming employees varies based on a lot of factors, including the role, the candidate’s experience and skills, and the location and size of the company. Because of this, even positions with the same job title can offer vastly different salaries. For example, while the median pay for a Casino Shift Manager is $57,316 per year, on an individual level that ranges from around $40,000 on the low end to upwards of $75,000 for the highest-paid professionals.
This wide range of salary levels can make it a challenge for companies to determine the right pay rates for their roles. Offering higher pay than your competitors is one way to get the attention of top candidates in a crowded job market, but that’s not always realistic, especially for smaller casinos trying to compete with large, multinational corporations.
The good news is, compensation isn’t the only thing people consider when they’re deciding where to work. A high salary is just one of many ways to catch the attention of the best candidates. Rather than trying to out-pay the top players in the gaming industry, focus your compensation research on the companies that are your true competition: businesses of around your same size and in your same market. An independent casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City will likely still need to consider what places like Caesars and Harrah’s pay when they’re hiring, but those in smaller markets can match their compensation to the demands of the local talent market, not these broader industry trends.
Work environment and company culture
The increased demand for workplace flexibility is one of the top challenges facing gaming organizations when it comes to hiring. The nature of the casino industry means most employees will need to be on-site, with little room for remote or hybrid workplace models.
Instead, many casinos have looked toward a different type of flexibility to help them overcome staffing shortages. It’s increasingly common for gaming facilities to cross-train employees, creating a workplace where everyone has the ability to fill multiple jobs when the need arises. This doesn’t just help companies to overcome staffing woes but can also be a benefit from an employee standpoint. This kind of cross-training helps employees gain new skills, as well as more knowledge and insights about their field, preparing them for a wider variety of opportunities in the future. For companies that provide this kind of ongoing learning, having recruiters publicize this as part of the hiring process can help attract candidates with a growth mindset and a passion for the industry.
Job seekers today want to work for someone who will support them as individuals and embrace the unique background and perspective they bring to the workplace. Sustained effort in areas like diversity, equity, and inclusion is something most job seekers today want to see in the companies they apply to. For hiring managers, your recruitment efforts should include outlining the steps of your diversity strategy, and what progress you’ve made toward that goal, in your employer branding materials.
Creating a compelling job description
The first step to writing an effective job description is to understand the role you’re filling. This goes back to the earlier point about identifying top candidates. Your job description should highlight those key skills you identified for the job, as well as any niche industry knowledge the role requires. For example, a position as a dealer for table games will call for applicants who understand the rules of that game in-depth, ideally someone with past experience from the dealer’s side of the table.
Along with a description of the job, you should include information about your company. This includes your mission and values as an employer and what kind of work environment and culture the candidate should expect if hired.
Bear in mind, the job description is your first chance to sell yourself as an employer to candidates. It helps the employer and applicant both to include information on the salary, benefits, workplace perks, and advancement opportunities that come along with the position. This gives applicants a better sense of whether the role will fit their needs before they apply. It can also give strong candidates more motivation to apply for your position if they know it’s a place they’ll be valued and compensated fairly.
Finding and attracting applicants
Online job marketplaces have become the go-to source for talent for organizations across industries, and this can be an effective way to find talent for the gaming industry. Posting your position to a job board like LinkedIn or Indeed will reach a wide range of potential applicants, and can deliver results without your hiring team needing to put in much effort.
That benefit of job boards can also be its main drawback, however. Online job boards are accessible to anyone, and there’s no guarantee the people who apply will have the skills for the role. The time your recruiters save in outreach to candidates may be lost in reviewing applications and screening out candidates who are a poor fit.
One option is to post to an industry-specific job board like Casino Careers. These boards often have hundreds of users, rather than the thousands or millions who use larger all-purpose sites. While that can mean fewer applicants, the ones you get are more likely to be a good fit for your search.
Using applicant tracking systems, AI screeners, and other tech tools to filter resumes can also be beneficial. Just make sure that you are thoughtful in how you set the parameters for these programs to avoid introducing bias or eliminating potentially viable candidates.
You don’t need to work to attract candidates if you can get them to come to you. That’s what employer branding can accomplish. In short, employer branding is marketing the employee experience at your company to potential applicants. It’s the same concept as other types of branding, just focusing on your value proposition for workers rather than customers.
Here are some tips to create a more effective employer brand:
- Include first-hand accounts from real employees. Hearing that your company is a great place to work from someone who has this on-the-ground experience will mean more to job seekers than hearing it from the company’s leadership.
- Back up your claims with examples and evidence. If you say you have a diverse and inclusive workplace, you should be able to demonstrate this, ideally with data but at the least anecdotally.
- Make it multimedia. Photos and videos of your day-to-day workplace, especially those that feature current employees, can help job seekers picture themselves working in your company.
Social media recruitment strategies
One place that you want to promote your employer brand once you’ve developed it is on your company’s social media channels. Social media can be a powerful recruitment tool when it’s used correctly.
At the baseline level, you should announce current openings and opportunities on your social media channels when they’re posted. The people who follow your channels are already interested in your company, and some of them may be gaming professionals looking for exactly this type of opportunity. Even if not, they may have friends or colleagues who would be a great fit for the position. The bottom line is, the more ways there are for people to find your job postings, the higher the odds you’ll attract an ideal candidate.
Social media has potential uses beyond your company’s channels, too. Many platforms have groups and communities that can be a great source of strong candidates. For example, search for Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups related to casino workers, or explore the communities on platforms like Reddit and Slack.
Networking with industry professionals
Everybody has a network, whether they think of it that way or not. For a company, this includes current and former employees, as well as other businesses you work with, such as suppliers, vendors, or third-party services. For an individual, it includes their current and former colleagues and employers, as well as other professionals they’ve connected with at industry events or through social media.
Job seekers are often told to activate their network to find opportunities, and businesses can do the same to fill them. One great place to start is by implementing an employee referral system. This encourages employees to activate their networks on your behalf, helping you attract people in their professional circles who may be a great fit for your role.
Professional events can also be an excellent opportunity to find talent through networking. This includes things like job fairs, conferences, trade shows, and similar events that are likely to attract a large number of gaming professionals. Professional gaming organizations often host these events, and can be a good first step to learn about upcoming opportunities. The American Gaming Association is the largest trade group for the casino industry, and a great place to start if you’re looking for these kinds of networking opportunities.
Finding the best talent for your organization
Even in a tight job market, there are always people looking for work. Following the advice in this article can help you overcome your recruiting challenges to find and hire the right people for your roles.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.