How Do I Attract Top Hospitality Talent?
Deb Ward / DECEMBER 07 2020

The hospitality industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic this year (2020). Many employees have been furloughed or laid off and many have had to quit, staying home to support young children in remote schooling. Even before this pandemic hit, the industry traditionally experienced a high turnover rate, even as business was booming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Food and Hospitality Sector, the turnover rate was over 70%.

So, not only is there a constant need to recruit, but a focus on retention is also critical. Satisfied employees are more likely to power a positive guest experience. Also, Millennial talent is on the rise in every industry. If you aren’t actively recruiting them, you’ll soon be in the minority. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of all workers. Given these considerations, here are some tips to attract new and top talent for your company:

  • Company culture and reputation are key: Information about your company is available on all types of platforms these days. Many candidates are searching the internet for clues about your brand and reputation long before they begin the interview process. Hotel, restaurant, and resort leaders need to take these sites seriously and establish social media accounts to promote opportunities and showcase events or programs that support your company culture.
  • Focus on the value of the role in the company: People want their jobs to mean something. Be sure to emphasize the value of this role and how it makes a positive impact on the guest experience. Also, share how it can translate into professional opportunities so the candidate can see long-term career options in their future.
  • Provide mentors and share stories of career success: Share how entry-level employees have risen through the ranks and moved into leadership/management positions. A career success story of “working your way up” is very powerful and shows how someone who started as a front desk agent became a department manager and eventually, a general manager. Show how the company has mentored and supported growth opportunities.
  • E-learning builds careers: Group training that’s flexible is great for helping employees do their jobs better, but is also a reward by making them eligible for promotions. Access via mobile applications appeals to the younger set and demonstrates that you’re investing in them and want them to move up. Make it possible to earn hotel certifications, attend hot-topic webinars, and earn safety badges and more.
  • Offer perks that are relevant to different age groups: Hospitality has one of the largest age differences between young and older employees… so the benefits each is seeking varies greatly. Benefits targeted to Gen-Y and Gen-Z employees should be focused on money (to pay off student loans and pay rent), travel perks, experiences, flexibility etc. Older employees may be looking for stability, job security, health care, and work-life balance.
  • Embrace new technology: Many millennials are tech-savvy and base their impression of a company on job postings and career websites. Social media and video interviews can present you as a tech-savvy brand as well as save time in the recruiting process. It shows your company embraces the future and isn’t stuck in the past.
  • Attracting Millennials: This age group has different priorities from past generations. CEO’s need to understand that Millennials are a generation that does not want what their parents wanted.  The industry has to re-imagine its approach to this talent.

According to a survey conducted by Korn Ferry along with BridgeOver Group (a consulting firm specializing in hospitality and tourism strategy), the results reveal their preferred working environments, motivations, and types of companies they prefer. Here’s what they found:

  • They want to be heard and expect a fast career path with clear direction and expectations.
    • More than previous generations, they require regular feedback and breadth of career experiences.
    • They don’t really value job security as much and are willing to move jobs regularly if there is a more stimulating path to a more senior role with a better work-life balance.
    • They want to work for companies with a conscience, who are innovative and where they can demonstrate and develop their skills.
    • Their “wanderlust” is a perfect attribute for this industry. Offer global exposure to diverse locations and travel opportunities with job swap programs.
    • They don’t really care about annual reviews – you need to set clear targets and provide regular and structured feedback.
    • They value a sense of purpose, quality-of-work culture, and an aspirational brand more than higher compensation.


Leverage referrals from current employees to find quality talent. They tend to perform better than other types of hires and are typically retained longer. Consider an incentive program for employee referrals.  

Go directly to hospitality schools and apprentice programs and show them how they can develop their career at your company. 

Allow each location of your hotel or restaurant chain to create their own guidelines and best practices for recruitment, which is often more effective at the local level… and use social media to showcase why your company is a great place to work.