One Hot Job Skill In Hospitality
Increase your chances of landing a job with one impressive skill.
By Angela Rose for Hcareers.com
Friendliness, efficiency, dedication, and a passion for service… these are all characteristics hotel and restaurant hiring managers look for in job candidates. However, one less obvious talent has rapidly become the hottest job skill in the hospitality industry. Do you know what that skill is? The answer is the ability to speak a second language.
According to a piece in CNNMoney, the U.S. Department of Labor has listed interpreters among the nation’s fastest growing occupations. They expect to see growth of 42 percent in the field between 2010 and 2020 and it’s easy to see why. Census Bureau data shows 58 percent of U.S. residents over the age of five speak a language other than English at home. In 2011, this included Spanish (37.6 million), Chinese (2.9 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), German (1.1 million), and Korean (1.1 million).
Of course, you don’t have to become an interpreter to benefit from foreign language fluency. Bilingualism is a skill many hospitality employers value—particularly in hotel and restaurant management candidates. Consider the following reasons speaking a second language may help you land your next job.
Bilingualism enhances staff communication.
Many states boast large populations of foreign language speaking residents. For example, you’ll find large Japanese populations in Hawaii, California, Washington, and Oregon. Some have limited English proficiency, so interaction with management in their native language is necessary to improve training efficiency, increase employee retention, and eliminate potential safety issues.
Consider the duties of hotel departments such as housekeeping and maintenance, some of which may require safety training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines state that employees must receive such training in a language they can understand. If a department manager is fluent in that language, the hotel won’t need to hire an expensive freelance interpreter to ensure compliance.
Bilingualism enhances customer experience.
There are several ways managers who speak a second language can enhance the experience of hotel and restaurant customers. The first is through coaching limited English employees to perform better on the job. One study found that restaurant employees led by managers who spoke their native language were able to complete recipes with increased accuracy and an average of 7.23 minutes faster than those who did not have the benefit of bilingual instruction. This means their customers spent less time waiting for their meals and were more likely to return to the establishment.
While limited English employees are common in the hospitality industry, so are foreign language customers. International tourism contributes billions of dollars to the world economy each year, and it’s not uncommon to meet visitors from China, France, Japan, Russia, and other developed nations. Hotel and restaurant managers who are able to speak the languages of their guests are better able to make them feel at home.
For example, consider the role of a concierge manager at a hotel near the Russian consulate in a large U.S. city. The concierge manager's staff may encounter many Russian speaking tourists and diplomats. Fluency in the language will better enable him or her to meet their needs, making their stay as enjoyable as possible with restaurant recommendations, directions to popular landmarks, and even a friendly goodbye in their native tongue.
Hotel and restaurant employers are definitely interested in hiring bilingual management candidates. A simple job search on Hcareers will list job postings, some of which require candidates to be fluent in another language. Remember: bilingual means you can speak, read, and write in a second language fluently. If you possess this hot job skill, be sure to highlight it within your cover letter and resume. If your abilities are a little rusty, complete a continuing education language course at your local community college before searching for your next hospitality job.
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About the Author
Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends, and workplace issues for Hcareers.com.
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