A hospitality employer's job seeker wish list
U.S. hiring is on a continued upswing, and hospitality is near the head of the pack. Data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the nation’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.2 percent in July with the addition of 209,000 jobs. Employment in leisure and hospitality added 375,000 new job positions over the past year, primarily in food services and drinking places—indicating it’s a great time to apply for new employment at hotels and restaurants around the country. If you’re ready to take the next step in your hospitality career, consider these tips to ensure you can satisfy every employer’s job seeker wish list.
1. Know your industry and market—and be ready to talk about it
Your main reason for working may be the paycheck, but employers want to hire hospitality professionals who are passionate about the way in which they earn those dollars. Whether you’re applying for a restaurant greeter job or a parking attended position, spend a few hours reading up on industry news, familiarizing yourself with the latest hotel or restaurant trends, identifying the major players in your local market, and learning everything you can about your potential employer. Commit a dozen or more of the details Google unearths to memory and prepare to dazzle the hiring manager at your next job interview.
2. Polish your application materials
The devil—or in this case, the job offer—is in the details. Submit a copy and paste cover letter or resume with spelling and grammatical errors and you’re only wasting your time. On the other hand, polished application materials indicate you have taken the hospitality job opportunity seriously and are worth a deeper look. Whether you want to further your career as a chef or hotel manager, you must customize your cover letter and resume, proofread it carefully and—for best results—get a second or even third opinion on the effectiveness of your presentation.
3. Understand your big picture role—and be ready to describe it
A line cook job is more than a list of cooking and cleaning tasks. It’s an essential cog in a well-oiled kitchen machine. Whether you’re a housekeeper or a dishwasher, think about the ways in which your daily responsibilities affect the restaurant as a whole. How does the execution of your duties relate to the larger mission of the establishment? Once you have an answer, your response to “What did you do at restaurant X?” will be much more impressive. For example, you’re not just “preparing menu items," you’re “presenting quality dishes that enhance the restaurant’s reputation.”
4. Practice telling the right stories
Behavioral interview questions are increasingly common. While you can’t prepare a response to every “Tell me about a time…” or “What would you do if…” query, you can focus in on those that a hotel or restaurant employer is most likely to ask by considering the job from his or her perspective. What skills are most important in a hostess position? The answer may be good communication and great attention to detail. What situations would indicate a candidate has those skills? You can then prepare stories that address the situations and skills you’ve identified.
5. Above all, be honest
Whether you prefer to not talk about why you left your last position or want to keep your former salary a secret because you fear it will hamper negotiations, any response that is less than truthful—even if not outright dishonest—can come back to hurt you. For example, most hotel and restaurant employers will check in with your past supervisors. They’ll find out why you left, if you gave appropriate notice, and what you earned. If the information you provided does not match that given by your reference, the employer will question your motives for subterfuge. That almost always negatively impacts the hiring decision.