Top skills hospitality employers are looking for in job candidates in 2018
You’re on point with PowerPoint and can analyze a P&L statement like nobody else. But to rise with staying power in the hospitality world, it takes more than the hard marketing and financial skills you picked up in school or training. The search is on for those with both technical skills and emotional intelligence, or, as they're often referred to "soft skills." Believe it or not, "soft skills" make up the majority of qualities and characteristics it takes to succed in customer service.
“Soft skills have become even more critical. They might be the differentiator for hiring,” says Ayesha Williams, M.S. Ed, director talent & leadership development, Americas Ops, USA, Latin America and the Caribbean for Hilton.
In an industry expected to offer eighty-six million new jobs by 2026, says Williams, "We need to bring on young people and turn talent out at lightspeed.” To this end, “The need for team players, collaborators and those who can solve problems creatively, together are great," says Williams, as is being responsible and delivering against the results.
Going the extra mile with customers and team members, “Could be a game changer for line level positions,” says Williams. “Millennials are always looking for the next career step. They need to look for opportunities to wow the guest. Raise your hand and volunteer for activities within your department.”
Having a leadership mentality as part of your soft skills set is important, even if such a title is not bestowed upon you.
“You have to act like it’s your business – like it’s your guest is waiting in line. You must focus on delivering department goals. Aspire to develop, practice and feel such skills and a supervisor will look at you and know you have something special,” says the industry executive.
The ability to make real-time operational decisions that have significant impact is another key trait sought in employees.
For an example, "A manager with us out of Brazil had a love for developing youth and talked with the General Manager of the property and regional leaders about this passion. The hotel partnered with a local hotel school to open doors for Brazilian youth, and we hired quite a number of those young people, positioning them throughout Brazil in our properties there,” says Williams. “It’s about making those decisions with change initiatives.”
Communicating effectively and inspirationally with all levels of an organization is critically important for mid-level managerial roles, says Williams, as is the ability to continuously engage.
“You have to find ways of adapting your style to those around you, handling different environments and situations effectively,” says Williams. In our multi-generational society, “More millennial managers need to have passion and energy to manage generations above them, have discussions with boomers and show your flexibility and capacity to modify such conversations,” she says.
Today’s up-and-comers need to demonstrate resilience, too.
“If, for example,” says Williams, “You have to get a project off of the ground, but lack a budget. We want to know the ways you went about achieving this goal. Regardless of obstacles you face, how do you creatively problem solve?”
Performance with a sense of urgency is also highly regarded.
“We’ve all been in a restaurant that’s empty and ten servers are standing around, but it takes a half a mile per hour to get to your table to pour the first glass of water. Satisfying the needs of guests within a framework of good judgement is valued now,” says Williams.
Apart from mentorships and apprenticeships, there are other thrifty ways to develop the soft skills desired by hospitality employers today. Networking expands your circle of influence and through the process you learn more about yourself as you unknowingly practice a wide-range of soft skills.
“It can be as simple as introducing yourself to someone in the elevator, having lunch with a different crowd, or intentionally bumping in to the hiring manager in the parking lot and sharing your business card,” she says. “The practice allows you to exercise your verbal and non-verbal skill-sets, your ability to influence and persuade others and other interpersonal skills. These moments can be game-changers so be prepared to succinctly share your interest in a particular project or initiative with someone in a similar line of work. Networking is powerful if it’s organic, so look for your next organic moment.”
Watching how-to, Youtube videos is another trick of the trade.
“There are many great videos on Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Conflict management, Communication and Customer Service. I’d recommend that you ask a few friends, neighbors, or ex-bosses to provide you with some insight on key areas where you may be in need of development, before you go, Youtubing. This way, you’ll be able to identify the right skill to practice,” says Williams.
Finally, maintaining your work/life balance is advisable for putting your best self, and skills forward on the job.
“When you invest time in your well-being, it translates to the ways in which you engage others, drive your performance, and achieve your goals."