If you’ve been working in the hospitality industry for a while and are yearning for something new, you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for people of any age or experience level to make changes to their career path. This could be for any number of reasons such as the need for more flexibility in one’s personal life, boredom or burnout or simply, more opportunity for career advancement.
Regardless of the reason, workers in the hospitality business benefit from a wide array of career opportunities all within the same industry. So making a switch can be a relatively streamlined process.
If you are thinking about taking on a new role in a hotel department where you have no previous experience, consider these 4 tips.
Why Do You Want to Make the Change?
The first question any employer will ask you is why you want to move into a completely different department. So you’ll need to be prepared with a reasonable and persuasive response.
Keep it positive. Unacceptable responses include not getting along with your current boss or certain coworkers and/or disliking aspects of your current job. The desire to earn more also won’t be seen as a justifiable reason. The workforce at large shares this goal and it’s understood.
However, there are personal reasons that are viewed as acceptable such as life changes that require more flexibility. If you want to move to a new department because the hours are more in line with your plans to go back to school or spend more time taking care of your children or elderly family members, good employers should try to work with you to accommodate these needs.
Do You Truly Understand the Department’s Work?
All too often the perception of a job and the reality of the work it involved are quite different. Make sure you have a strong understanding of a department’s work before approaching an employer about moving into it.
If you’re planning to look for a new job at another hotel, this is a good reason to seek out informational interviews with employees of other hotels. Does group sales sound appealing? Reach out to group sales managers or directors at other area hotels and explain that you’re thinking about changing departments and you’d like to know more about what they do.
But if you’re hoping to move into a new department at the hotel where you currently work, ask some of the team members if they would be willing to give you some of their time and tell you about the day-to-day of their jobs. They’ll likely appreciate a gesture like offering to buy them coffee. The effort may also strengthen your colleague network.
In short, you want to learn first hand about the work of another department before asking any employer to give you a fresh opportunity. If you think the work sounds interesting and your perception of it is wrong, you will look foolish in the interview process.
What Value Will You Bring to the New Role?
All employers will want to know how they will benefit from moving you to a department where you have no previous experience. So you’re going to need to sell the experience that you do have.
Think about how your existing skillset is transferable. If you’ve been working in hotel housekeeping and want to move to the front desk, you’ve likely worked with the front desk to make sure rooms are ready on time for guests who are checking in each day. Additionally, you’ve likely gained guest service experience when responding to guest requests for extra towels or specific changes to daily housekeeping procedures like coming a little later.
Highlighting your transferrable skills is also an opportunity to talk about aspects of your current role that you enjoy and how those specific parts of your job lend themselves to making a change. This should always include guest service.
However, if you work in hotel reservations and you’re interested in revenue management, you’ll want to mention how you pay attention to changes in daily rates and understand why this is important to hotel revenue. In other words, rates are higher during the holiday period because there’s more demand for hotel rooms. In turn, the hotel enjoys a high revenue period because they can charge more for rooms.
Another benefit to the employer is an employee who has a broader understanding of how the overall hotel operation works. The knowledge can help drive better efficiencies for the property. Experienced hotel concierge staffers can bring an acute sense of guests’ likes, dislikes, and interests to another hotel position. So if they want to work in hotel food and beverage, they’ll likely already have a strong understanding of the type of dining that most guests are seeking.
Keep an Open Mind
A conversation with your current employer about a possible switch to another department may not generate the results that you’d hoped for. Instead, your employer may listen to your reasoning for the request and, already understanding your strengths, suggest another opportunity. Take the time to listen to what he or she has to say and give it some thought. You may find their professional experience and guidance advantageous to your career moving forward.