By Suvarna Sheth, Hcareers.com
While the luxury hotel industry has been hit by the recession, spending cut backs, and job losses, Marriott International (JOBS) is expanding and hiring. The company announced the opening of a new JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles as a key part of a $2.5 billion entertainment district known as L.A. LIVE on February 15, 2010.
“This hotel epitomizes the best of the JW Marriott brand,” said Javier Cano, general manager, “matched with the energy of L.A. LIVE, it stands to become a landmark hotel in this city.”
The hotel will be a boon for new jobs that are likely to remain in demand due to the hotel’s proximity to downtown L.A.’s entertainment center.
“With everything from restaurants, clubs, to all of the events at STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre, the Grammy Museum, Club Nokia Conga Room, and the Regal Cinema Stadium 14, the JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE will be one of the most sought-after destinations for groups as well as business and leisure travelers,” Cano said.
Meanwhile, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas is seeking to fill 200 additional jobs both full- and part-time. The new jobs are in addition to the 550 positions the resort filled in December 2009.
Marriott International operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names. The company reversed a prior-year loss in the fourth quarter, having benefited from cost controls and better-than-expected occupancy rates.
The Marriott’s hiring needs were affected by the recession, according to Monica Rojas, human resources generalist at the Marriott in Anaheim, Calif. “There were peak times when occupancy was pretty high, we needed extra bodies, yet we weren’t able to hire due to the fact we couldn’t keep them on payroll,” she says, “so definitely, yes the recession has affected hiring.”
Speaking of the Anaheim property, Rojas says hiring has “barely” started to pick up again. “We were at a time when there were a lot of lay-offs and we weren’t posting or replacing those jobs, but I think little by little it is picking-up.”
She says she is starting to see more managers requesting job postings for positions that have been unfilled for a while. She is also finding that managers are transferring to other positions within the company, which is opening up jobs for outside candidates. Rojas is optimistic for the New Year, and says the job outlook at Marriott looks “very” promising.
How to land a job at the Marriott?
Rojas, a human resources expert at the Marriott for the last 14 years, says that ever since Marriott’s jobs went online, the recruitment process has changed significantly.
To view the variety of jobs available to applicants, including management positions, candidates should go to Marriott Careers. For hourly jobs, candidates should go to http://greatjobs.marriott.com or in Spanish, http://tabajos.marriott.com.
Once submitted, the online application will go to the respective hiring manager. A candidate is then called in for an interview, if their background fits with the job requisition.
Rojas says many Marriott properties get walk-ins that continue to come in regularly, so fortunately, she says there has never been a problem filling jobs at her location. In fact, she says jobs get filled pretty quickly. “When they don’t get filled quickly, it’s because of the manager’s lack of movement, or their decision to do without hiring,” she says.
In order to standout from the rest of the applicants, Rojas says it’s very important to follow up on your application “maybe leave a voicemail,” she says, “whatever you do to follow up, it makes a difference; it shows you’re interested in the job,” she advises.
What are they looking for?
Rojas says landing a job at the Marriott is competitive. First, she says your background should show you are really interested in the hospitality industry.
“The Marriott really looks for somebody that’s looking to make their job a career,” Rojas says. “It’s a goal of the company to keep employees and let them grow within the company,” she says. Rojas says it’s not uncommon for an associate to stay with the company over 20 years.
Many times she says employees explore different areas of the hospitality industry. “Whether an employee works in the front of the house, or back of the house, Marriott strives to retain its employees for the long term,” she says.
The top questions a candidate can expect when interviewing are the following according to Rojas:
1.) What is your job history like?
2.) Why did you leave your last job?
3.) How did you handle a bad situation at your last job?
4.) Do you seek guidance from managers, or do you solve problems on their own?
5.) Why did you choose Marriott?
6.) Is it a company you are truly interested in, or just something you just want to give a shot?
Rojas says Marriot interview questions are generally behavior questions to find out how a candidate handles situations and how they react to different types of people. She says how a candidate responds to a question online doesn’t necessarily tell the hiring manager everything about the candidate, and what they will be like in person. Unfortunately, a great part of the selection process takes place with the online application.
Rojas says responding to questions on the three page online application can be tricky. She says sometimes the same questions are repeated, but worded differently. “People will get a completely different concept of what was asked, and they give a completely different answer from the first time,” she says.
For the most part, the Marriott receives an abundant supply of applicants every day. But, Rojas says it depends on the job as well. “If it’s something like a desk-clerk, we get tons and tons of applicants,” she says, “But when it’s more of a specialty, like a baker or an engineer, those are a little bit harder to fill.”
The managers at the Marriott go through an extensive training for our recruiting processes. Rojas only advises them to be more involved and proactive in the selection of applicants, “that way it puts it on their shoulders to really take a look at the applicant and see who they really want, and who can complement the existing team or make it better than it already is.”