Hospitality Jobs in 2011: Tips from Experts on How to Stand Out
By Suvarna Sheth, Hcareers
The hospitality industry is on the rebound. As hotels and restaurants, large and small, begin expanding and hiring again, we speak to two career placement experts to find out the latest trends in hospitality recruitment.
According to Simply Hired analysis data, hospitality recruitment trends actually spiked back between April and June 2010. Since then, trends have stabilized and there is steady recruitment across industries. The market is indeed picking up for hotel and restaurant recruitment.
Nimish Thakkar, certified resume writer and career coach with ResumeCorner.com and SaiCareers.com, says hotel, restaurant, catering, travel and tourism industries are all hiring again. The luxury niche is returning also, and as businesses rebound, event management companies are increasing their presence, as well.
“There is a slow but steady and noticeable surge in hiring activity in Q1 2011,” Thakkar states, “it may appear to be a trickle at the moment, but there is a ray of optimism as the economy continues to stabilize.”
According to Thakkar, there are currently several prominent recruitment trends in the hospitality industry. The most visible change is increased proliferation of social medial tools to find, screen, and recruit top talent. Online hospitality groups within the social media circuit are used as “talent sourcing” tools by recruiters. He notes that employee blogs are also viable sourcing channels to find new hires. At the same time, he maintains that niche hospitality job boards such as Hcareers.com continue to be used by recruiters as useful tools to find the right candidate for the job.
Secondly, the recruitment expert claims there is still a heavy, if not increasing reliance on referrals, networks, and connections. “Recruiters often call on their rolodex and candidates within their network to seek referrals and recommendations,” Thakkar explains.
The industry veteran of over 11 years says employment branding is also in vogue. There is a current focus on branding, and much like candidates, recruiters, too, are branding and positioning their clients (employers) to attract the best candidates. And branding themselves properly is exactly how candidates can be better equipped in this competitive market. A candidate’s primary focus should be branding and differentiating him or herself from the competition.
Kelly Dingee, a professional strategic recruiting manager with Staffing Advisors, agrees. She advises job seekers on what they should do to “up the ante” so they are more hirable.
Foremost in branding, Dingee advises candidates to become more findable. “Google yourself right now,” she advises in her article, ‘7 Things Employers Should Tell Job Seekers About How to Get Considered,’ posted at FistFullofTalet.com. “Did your LinkedIn profile come up? No? Build one, make it public,” she states. “If you have a preferred method of contact, note it.” She says candidates should also take advantage of in-mails and use a separate e-mail for their job-seeking ventures.
Even after establishing an online presence, she points out that candidates should make themselves even more findable by posting your resume, or your bio using Posterous, or WordPress. She says part of branding yourself means making sure you build a profile so every keyword applies to you. “I like to say I'm a researcher but my title is Strategic Recruiting Manager,” she states, “if I was anticipating a job hunt and tweaking my profile, I'd make sure every word related to recruiting and research both are enmeshed in my online profile.”
As part of personal-branding, Thakkar says it’s equally important to develop a professional resume that will convey your value proposition. “If you are someone who can thrive in challenging environments and turnaround situations, your resume must absolutely reflect that,” he says.
Another trend Thakkar says job seekers need to be aware of is the increased focus on replacements. Despite volatility in “new hire activity,” he states the replacement cycle remains a viable source of activity within hospitality recruitment.
“The activity may be lesser as compared to prior years, but as professionals and executives transition to newer roles (and many have sought opportunities abroad), the need to replace is still very strong,” he comments.
Thakkar says there is a noticeable preference for advanced degrees and specialty degrees related to hospitality management, especially in senior management roles, and quality of candidates is still the core focus of recruitment efforts. At the same time, higher level opportunities (chefs and management professionals) are becoming available, especially within branded and “corporate-style” operations.
The industry expert says staying abreast with technology is also vital– from smart phone apps to online job boards such as Hcareers.com. “Technology is the hottest sourcing and match-making tool across the board,” Thakkar claims. “Where you are in the technology space is just as important as who you are.” If you are not presented on the “right places,” you could be missing out on valuable opportunities he says. And this holds true for both employers/recruiters and candidates.
The reason it’s important for job seekers to keep up with changes in recruitment is simply because employers these days have a choice. And due to the large increase in unemployment, there are a large number of candidates available per job opening. Employers, after many years, have the opportunity to screen and select—as opposed to “settle,” so it’s more important than ever for job seekers to be on top of their game.
He also notes there is a stronger need for turnaround specialists. “As compared to earlier years, employers are increasingly on the lookout for employees who can turnaround situations,” he says. “Given that the economy is slowly recovering, it is imperative to find managers who can turnaround situations.”
Dingee agrees with Thakkar in that candidates should continue using job boards. “And there will be people looking for you on there,” she writes. But, she says candidates shouldn’t rely on any one strategy alone and should understand that companies are under the gun to save on costs— so it’s often important to go directly to their websites and apply there as well.
She encourages candidates to find someone who works at their targeted company who can pass their resume along, outside of the applicant tracking system (ATS). She warns that job seekers will eventually be dumped in the black hole that is the ATS, but “give yourself a fighting chance and work your network,” she states.
As for maintaining relations, Dingee recommends job seekers respond to recruiters, whether they are third party or corporate. She writes that if you don't want to deal with contingency staffing firms, it’s fine, but at least send a quick note of thank you/no thank you to get removed from their mailing list.
In her article, she advises candidates who are not interested in an opportunity let the recruiter know a particular job wasn’t a good fit, but what you'd really like is X, Y, and Z.
She says recruiters keep that information handy and because they may run across that position shortly, they are likely to call you again and let you know they found it.
Job Search Tips
Thakkar offers job seekers free resume critiques and the following tips:
1. Avoid cookie-cutter resumes that appear like everyone else’s.
2. Demonstrate quantifiable accomplishments through your resume.
3. Manifest your presence at hot recruitment hubs, such as Hcareers.com and hospitality industry blogs and social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter. Don’t hesitate to cold call a potential employer.
4. Be omnipresent at networking events and opportunities.
5. Invest in your professional development and become familiar with cutting-edge trends, technologies, and processes within the hospitality industry.
6. Focus on branding and differentiating yourself
7. Create a solid, punch-driven executive summary on the resume.
8. Demonstrate past accomplishments on the resume. If you have turned-around a failing restaurant, highlight that on the resume as opposed to just saying “I managed a restaurant.” Focus, instead, on punch-driven statements, such as:
* Award-winning restaurant manager who took over a failing restaurant and repositioned it to achieve 210% growth.
* Overhauled and revitalized menus and gourmet offerings, retrained staff to focus on passionate customer service, and renegotiated vendor contracts to achieve 35% cost reduction.