6 Rules Every Hospitality Job Seeker Should Know
The famous theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once said, “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” It’s a statement that’s as true in a hospitality job search as it is on a basketball court or football field.
Whether you’re looking for your first housekeeper position or pursuing an opportunity as restaurant manager after years in the industry, consider these six essential rules every hospitality job seeker should know (and play by).
1. Don’t apply without the necessary skills and experience.
You’re smart, you pick new tasks up easily, and you aren’t afraid to take on a challenge. While these are all valuable qualities in the workplace, hotel and restaurant employers tend to hire applicants they believe already have what it takes to do a job well—not plucky go-getters who may still require additional training and assistance. While this doesn’t mean entry-level opportunities requiring minimal experience aren’t available, it does mean you should be able to demonstrate how your background, experience, and skills are relevant to any new job position. If you cannot do so, you may be wasting your time.
2. Accept that skills and experience alone are not enough to guarantee a hospitality job.
You appear to be a perfect fit for the dim sum cook job. You submit your resume, complete what feels like a successful job interview, yet you still receive a rejection letter. Why did this happen? It’s possible the manager didn’t feel you were the best “fit” for their restaurant. Perhaps you expressed goals that were bigger than the position’s potential. Maybe they felt your temperament would be at odds with the rest of the kitchen. It’s even possible that he or she thought you’d do better at an establishment with a different culture. Whatever the reason, accept it and move on. The hiring manager likely did you a favor in the long run.
3. Never submit a resume that is nothing but a rehash of past job descriptions.
If everyone follows rule number one, we can assume that most of the candidates under review for a particular hotel or restaurant job will have fairly similar histories. If you want to land your next position as a hotel bookkeeper or assistant general manager, your resume needs to convince the employer that your prior experience is superior to that of the rest. What’s the simplest way to do this? Ditch the “responsible for” statements and focus on bullet points describing challenges you faced in your previous position, the actions you took to overcome those challenges, and the results of those actions. Throw in concrete data—dollars saved, productivity increased, revenue earned—whenever possible.
4. Pare your resume down to the past 10 to 15 years.
Technology changes, processes evolve, and the software you used as a food and beverage manager back in the ‘80s is likely no longer relevant in today’s workplace. Don’t waste valuable resume space detailing positions you held more than 10 or 15 years ago. Instead, focus on the more recent experiences, skills, and expertise that will benefit your potential employer right now. If you happen to have an extensive job history, it’s always acceptable to include a line at the end of your resume stating something like, “Earlier hospitality employment history available upon request.”
5. Be prepared to answer questions about salary.
No hiring manager wants to waste his or her time pursuing a candidate who expects a higher salary than what the hotel or restaurant employer is prepared to pay. For this reason, you should ready yourself to answer questions about recent compensation and future expectations before your first conversation with him or her. Respond politely and confidently to his or her queries, and then put them at ease by stating that you understand hospitality salaries often vary due to differences in job description, establishment size, geographic location, and other factors.
6. Don’t allow the hospitality job search to destroy your positive attitude.
You may follow all the rules and still receive numerous rejections. This can happen in any industry—and to anyone, regardless of experience, gender, or age—and doesn’t diminish your current value or chances of future success. Don’t take rejections personally. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Don’t look for someone to blame. These actions only sap your energy and impede your job search. Instead, maintain a positive attitude. Believe the right hotel or restaurant job is out there waiting for you—you just have to find it. Then, keep looking.