Finding a Job in the Hospitality Field

By Joe Stein

One of the areas in Western New York that has traditionally had the most job opportunities is in the Hospitality field.  This industry is usually defined by hotel and restaurants, but can also include places such as golf courses and ski resorts. 

Whether you are a Hospitality veteran or someone looking to break into this field, there are certain items that you should focus on when looking for a job.  By doing well in these areas, you will significantly improve your chances of landing your desired job. 

Let’s now look at some of the key aspects of a job search in the Hospitality industry.

What to Wear to an Interview:
 There can be some differences in clothing selection between an interview for a hotel position compared to a restaurant.  Typically, conservative dress is your best option for a hotel.  Most hotels still require their non-housekeeping or maintenance staff to adhere to a professional dress code.  It also may be best to limit your jewelry and cover any visible tattoos. The restaurant world can be very specific to not only the role (dishwasher more casual than server), but also the type of establishment it is, (more specifically, the clientele).  A burger/wing joint will most likely be more flexible with dress and overall appearance than fine dining.  Of course, when in doubt, just ask, (better knowing ahead of time than being surprised once you arrive).

Stress Customer Service:
 Everything done in Hospitality ultimately is for the purpose of the customer.  You will want to stress that you know what good customer service is and that you are able to provide (or better yet…exceed) that level.  Share specific examples where you delighted the customer (maybe went that “extra mile”) and perhaps even received a compliment or positive comment card.  Show that you know how to properly address difficult or dissatisfied customers in a professional way that will solve the issue and maintain the relationship.  Even if you are applying for a position that does not directly make contact with the customer (such as a dishwasher or maintenance staff), impress the Hiring Manager by making the connection with this role and providing superior customer service.
 
Emphasize Your Reliability:
 In both your resume or application and in the interview, you will want to emphasize how reliable you are.  In the hospitality world, staff is often limited.  The tardiness or absence of even one member of the team can severely impact the operation of the hotel or restaurant.  If you have ever been in a restaurant and wondered why the wait was so long when they don’t look that busy, it was probably due to someone (or multiple people) who did not come into work.  Similarly, there is not anything that is more frustrating to a customer than waiting in line, especially at a hotel when you may be tired, hungry, and just want your room to recharge.  Assure the Hiring Manager that you understand how important it is to come to work.  Provide examples of how you were reliable at previous jobs - don’t just state that you “always are on time”.  Once you land the position, you will probably be surprised by just how valued you will be by the Manager because he or she can rely on you.

Be Accurate:
 Errors in the Hospitality world can be pretty damaging to the customer relationship.  Examples of this can be in the form of a restaurant check that is inaccurate or hotel charges that don’t belong on a customer’s bill.  Doing any of these is a good way to make sure the individual does not come back your place again.  Show, with your Cover Letter and Resume, that you are accurate by submitting error-free documents. 

Display Strong Communication Skills:
 Unless you are applying at a very casual establishment, you will be expected to have and use professional oral communication.  Display this by being respectful in the interview.  Treat the Manager like your best customer and listen intently without interrupting. Limit or eliminate any use of slang language and maintain eye contact with the Interviewer.  You will want to show an appropriate energy level and enthusiasm for the role.  Just don’t let this aspect overshadow your ability to be professional.
 
The key skills and attributes for a job in the hospitality field are generally common sense but can be difficult to master.  Think about what you like as a customer and then use this model to shape how you will go about writing your Resume and answering interview questions. 


As always, best of luck in your job search!