Job Market Outlook for the New Year: A Mixed Bag for Hospitality Industry Jobseekers
By Michelle Vessel
It's no secret that the global economy has hit a rough patch. From the once-sterling financial services industry to the automobile manufacturers that were long the backbone of the North American economy, it seems that no sector will be able to escape the current recession completely unscathed.
Even the most optimistic analyses paint a rather grim picture of the current situation. One recent report issued by economists at UCLA indicates that overall unemployment in the United States alone may peak at a figure as high as 9% in the year to come. In another survey that spanned multiple industries, nearly 70% of companies indicated that they did not plan to hire new staff in the new year, while 33% reported that they may have to consider staff layoffs in order to ease mounting budget concerns.
Hospitality Industry Firms Plan to Scale Back, Shift Gears
In light of the current economic situation, many firms in the hospitality industry have indicated that they too may be facing some tough choices in the year ahead. Now that most consumers are left with less discretionary spending money to use for luxuries like vacations and dinners out on the town, the landscape in the hospitality sector is likely to undergo both short-term and long-term shifts.
What does this mean for hospitality industry jobseekers? Well, there's good news and bad news. On the not-so-great side, the overall rate of planned hiring in the hospitality industry has dwindled to a mere 5%, ranking at the very bottom of all of the industries listed in a recent USA Today survey. In other words, hospitality industry jobs are going to be harder to come by in the year ahead.
How to Beat the Odds and Get Hired
Looking for a silver lining? Experts say that even in the deepest depths of a recession, there are still opportunities out there for qualified jobseekers, especially those who approach the job search process with persistence and ingenuity. Applicants that can tailor their résumés and elevator pitches to fit closely with the qualities that employers are seeking right now are likely to be in greater demand than ever before.
So although it may take a little longer and require a bit more looking than you're used to, it will still be possible to land a hospitality industry job this coming year. If you're the type that doesn't shy away from a challenge, use these tips to help boost your job-search odds in the year ahead.
- Point out your budget-cutting and value-adding accomplishments. These days, hospitality industry employers are keeping a very close watch on the bottom line. If you've helped your previous employers cut costs or boost profits, make sure to put these achievements front and center in your application materials. Whenever possible, use hard numbers and percentages to get your point across.
- Highlight your ability to wear more than one hat. Got cross-functional skills? Be sure to show them off. In tough economic times, employees who can take on multiple responsibilities offer a great value to cost-conscious employers who may otherwise be hesitant to hire.
- Work to expand your network, both inside and outside of the industry. When economic circumstances force firms to tighten their belts and limit hiring, it can pay to create your own opportunities. Networking is a great way to get your name out there and to let it be known that you're on the lookout for a new role. For best results, cast your networking “net” as far and wide as possible -- don't limit yourself to a narrow list of existing contacts and acquaintances.
- Devise ideas to reach out to a new class of customers. Like it or not, the hospitality industry is changing. Even as we speak, the terrain of the industry is shifting under our feet, and hospitality industry firms are brainstorming ways to reach out and connect with new markets and consumers. If you have experience with underserved markets or you're brimming with innovative ideas, be sure to mention it in your application materials.
- Embody excellence, emotional intelligence, and ambition. In these times, each new hire is a significant investment. Employers are looking for applicants who offer loads of future potential – and little risk of on-the-job drama and conflict. You can position yourself as a safe bet by highlighting your passion for excellence, your leadership potential, and your poised, professional, low-maintenance attitude.
It's true that the economic numbers look glum and the hospitality industry's growth has slowed down a bit. But with a bit of persistence and ingenuity and a job search strategy that's attuned to the realities of these tough times, you can still make a smart career move this coming year.