How to turn a part-time hospitality job into a full-time career
Maybe you’re working part-time at a hotel for extra money, trying out a new career or picking up some new skills and you’ve decided you’d like to move into a full-time position… maybe even management. How do you go from seasonal or part-time to a long-term, successful career at your hotel? Here are some things to consider as you make your way up the ladder.
Tips for Advancement
Hospitality is all about relating to people and providing superb customer service. You need to become a good communicator and develop some excellent interpersonal skills… maybe even learn a new language.
Also, depending on the size of the hotel, you may want to specialize in one main area such as Food/Beverage Management, Marketing/Sales, Housekeeping or Maintenance. Move around and learn about each area as much as you can, gathering skills and developing a broad range of transferable skills. Eventually, as a manager, you’ll need to know about all aspects of the hotel’s operations and the hands-on experience will be invaluable.
Of course, it’s important to focus on developing and reflecting professionalism in your appearance as well as your job performance. Pay attention to your dress/uniform, hair and make-up (understated and neat) and whatever your job, do it to the best of your ability. Be polite and respectful and always truthful with guests and colleagues.
Also, stay informed about the industry in general: What are the current trends? What is your competition doing? Join a professional organization in your community and start building a network. You’ll connect with people in your industry and build relationships with people you can turn to for tips or information when you need it…. or for possible job openings.
Experience vs. Education
There are generally two main paths to advancing your career in hospitality. One is to work your way up, gaining and demonstrating experience, commitment and personal qualities. Some hotels actually prefer this path, since their employees are already steeped in the company’s culture and standards. Be sure you’re keeping your manager informed of your ambition to move up to ensure they consider you for possible future openings. Plenty of companies are happy to promote existing staff who are loyal and knowledgeable about the hotel.
The other path involves getting some education or certifications to learn basic skills and general hotel management. You can distinguish yourself from the competition by taking some classes online or enrolling in courses at a local college. Ask your manager what is required for the next step and make plans to get there. Maybe taking some leadership classes as well as hospitality-specific courses will help you get ahead in the long run. You can get more information about earning certificates through organizations like the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI). Certificates add to your credibility and can help build skills quickly.
Be your own Career Coach
Take charge of your own career and plan for your success. It can be difficult to demonstrate all your capabilities in an interview, so you have to be sure to show how your background and skills relate well to the hospitality position you want. Look carefully at the job description for the specific knowledge, skills and abilities you need to demonstrate and how your experience shows that you have what they need. Even if you’ve never done this particular job before, there are competencies that are similar. Make sure you can position your experience to exactly what the potential job requires.
Once you’ve identified your skills and experiences, be sure you’re looking at jobs and companies that provide opportunities to learn and grow. You’ll need to challenge yourself and find mentors who will help you advance in your career.
Become a leader and a problem-solver. You are more valuable on the job market when you can think on your feet, find solutions and handle difficult situations calmly and effectively. Being a leader is something that is learned and practiced. Look for opportunities to develop and strengthen your leadership skills.
Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are important at all levels of management. That means you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses, be able to maintain self-control, relate to others and be able to motivate your team. Figure out how to strengthen your interactions with you bosses, peers, subordinates and guest. Be open to feedback, ask for advice and develop solid relationships with your manager.
The bottom line: Make yourself indispensable, look for ways to expand your skills/experience and invest time in learning about the industry as well as networking with other professionals.