7 biggest mistakes you never want to make when you work in hospitality
Once shredded, it can be nearly impossible to knit your professional reputation back together. If you want to lose your hotel or restaurant job and ensure finding a new one is a herculean task, just make one of these character-destroying mistakes.
1. Back out of a new job
You sent out dozens of resumes, scheduled several interviews, and accepted the first offer you received even though it wasn’t the position of your dreams. Now, your first-choice employer has invited you to join her team. Do you accept? Not if you want to keep your professional reputation intact. Unless there is a very compelling reason to go back on your word, you need to give the first job a chance. Hospitality professionals talk to each other, and a few pennies more per hour isn’t worth the risk.
2. Lie about your qualifications
Whether you claim to be the fastest prep chef in town or that you went to a prestigious hotel management school, falsehoods are always to be avoided. Even if your new employer didn’t confirm your credentials or test your skills before making an offer, the truth is likely to come out eventually, like when you’re holding up the line during the dinner rush at the city’s most popular seafood restaurant because you’ve actually never deboned a fish in your life.
3. Blow off steam on social media
A large table of party-goers just stiffed you on a tip, so you snap a cell phone photo as they walk out the door and post it on social media later along with a tirade of expletives. Your boss won’t let you take your birthday off so you rant online about the horrors you’ve seen behind the scenes at Hotel XYZ. Regardless of your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter privacy settings, it’s never a good idea to post anything negative about your employer, direct supervisor, coworkers or customers on social media. The Internet is full of stories about professionals who did and were subsequently fired. You can bet their posts, tweets and grams permanently damaged their reputation as well.
4. Ignore health department rules
Whether you work in a restaurant, hotel coffee shop or food stand, proper ingredient storage, food prep and hand washing is essential to maintaining the reputation of the establishment as well as your own. No one wants to be the line chef who serves undercooked poultry that later makes a customer ill. Or the prep chef who fails to wash his hands after returning from the bathroom and causes an E. Coli outbreak of unimaginable magnitude. Contributing to health code violations and foodborne illnesses are quick ways to terminally injure your professional reputation in the hospitality world.
5. Overserve alcohol (or serve it to an underaged customer)
While it’s primarily the bartenders’ responsibility to ensure that he or she is only serving customers who are legal drinking age, and not continuing to serve alcohol to patrons who are visibly drunk, everyone who works within a bar or restaurant should have these professionals’ backs. This means watching for customers who appear underage or intoxicated and notifying the appropriate party if they suspect an issue. Serving underage or intoxicated customers usually violates an establishment’s liquor license and may result in fines and loss of said license in addition to damaging your professional reputation.
6. Make excuses for your mistakes
Everyone fumbles from time to time, even the best hotel and restaurant professionals. While the occasional minor mistake, especially if not repeated, is unlikely to destroy your career, refusing to take responsibility for it very well could. Never play the blame game or make excuses. Instead, own up to your errors and do so proactively whenever possible. If you learn from them and strive to improve, you may be able to prevent lasting damage to your reputation.
7. Quit without notice
Whether you work in a quaint, out-of-the-way restaurant or a large hotel in a bustling metropolis, you are part of a well-oiled machine. Quit without warning and the rest of the team, not to mention the establishment’s bottom line, is likely to suffer. This pretty much guarantees your supervisor and former coworkers can be counted on to give you a negative reference the next time a recruiter calls. Instead of leaving without warning, always give your employer as much notice as possible. Stick around to train your replacement and you’ll look like a consummate professional as well.