Polish your language skills for your dream hotel job
In the competitive hotel and resort employment market, candidates need an edge; a quality that makes their resume jump out from the rest of the pile. In this industry, perhaps more than any other, bi- or multilingualism can easily give you the upper hand over unilingual candidates with similar skills and work history.
International tourism on the rise
International tourism is a huge industry, contributing billions of dollars to the world economy. According to the World Tourism Organization, international travel to North America increased an amazing 5.8% in 2005. The number of visits made to the UK by overseas residents in 2005 was the highest ever recorded – 30.0 million, with visitors spending a record £14.2 billion! International travelers clearly want to get out and see the world.
Hotel and resort companies realize that as this diverse group of guests travels from Greece, France, Japan, Germany and other countries to vacation, they appreciate comforts from home in their hotel and lodging accommodations. Sometimes a friendly “Hello” in their own language is enough to make the hotel stay a positive, memorable experience for a traveler.
Why employers need your language skills
The guests’ experience is enhanced when they have someone to turn to for restaurant recommendations, directions to popular landmarks and advice on using public transit, among other vacation concerns. Employers realize the value of providing these seemingly small, but very important, services to their guests.
According to Dennis McMonigle, director of Human Resources at the Adams Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado, "In our industry, customer service is what it's all about, and the ability to communicate effectively with customers, as well as co-workers in their native language, is a valuable asset in our recruiting strategies."
Bilingual hospitality workers in the United States are in such great demand that in 2005, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced nearly $2.6 million in grants to train hospitality staff, with an emphasis on providing English language training to those fluent in other languages. “The fast-growing hospitality industry is very much in need of skilled workers,” She commented, “Thousands of workers will benefit from the outreach, English literacy and occupational skills… possible through these grants.”
Bilingual hospitality workers promoted more often
Working in the hospitality industry offers employees the chance to travel and see the world while building their career. As a result, hotels are often diverse workplaces and may employ staff from many different countries. Employees who speak other languages and understand the cultures of their coworkers are attractive candidates for management training and promotions, as they are able to communicate effectively with a diverse staff.
Hotel employers often pay multilingual employees a better wage and consider them first for promotions. Bilingual candidates also find it easier to enter the job market and change jobs more easily, says Ghislain Savoie, Chief of the Social Research Group for the Department of Canadian Heritage. In the United Kingdom, the international and culturally diverse workforce, especially in the hotel and resort industry, makes bilingualism in the workplace a huge asset, especially amongst supervisors and managers. 40% of all Chinese women and 33% of Bangladeshi women in the UK work in the hotel and restaurant industries. As a result, the potential for Bengali/English or Chinese/English speakers to receive promotions and move into management is much greater than that of a unilingual speaker who could not communicate effectively with their staff.
Get that job
True bilingualism means that you can speak, read and write fluently in your second language. If you took a few courses in high school but can’t converse as you do in your native language, don’t tell prospective employers that you are bilingual; they will be disappointed if you can’t perform the duties you were hired for.
Most community colleges offer part-time and continuing education language courses. Interacting with others in your language class is a great way to develop and polish your skills. Once you are confident in your new language, don’t stop there! Learning a third language is not as difficult as you might think, especially if the two languages have similarities such as French and Italian.
Highlight your multilingualism on your resume as one of your major skills. You may even have a chance to show off your talent in an interview!