You Are a Hospitality Brand: Stand Out in a Post-pandemic Job Market

Presented by: Justin Taillon, Ph.D., MBA, Highline College

Staff cuts across the hospitality industry have been fast and deep. Every day generates a staggering new number of unemployment claims. The resilience of the industry ensures that it will return to its place as the world’s largest business. This also means that when the industry begins to re-open – which it has already gradually began this week in some states in the U.S. – there will be an immediate need for hiring back some of those positions. That need will continue to rise once there is an uptick in travel. What will this new job market look like? As a job-seeker, how can you stand out from the crowd?

This was the subject of the afternoon HFTP Hangout on Tuesday, April 28, presented by Justin Taillon, Ph.D., MBA. Taillon, a current HFTP Global Board member, is a professor and department head at Highline College in Seattle, Washington. He has also held various roles for Marriott, Starwood and Hilton prior to joining academia. In his session, Taillon discussed how each person can build and promote themselves as their own hospitality brand. He gave techniques for personal selling including best practices and resume trends being used during the hiring process.

Promoting Yourself in a Post-COVID-19 Marketplace

The pandemic situation is always changing, and that means that yesterday’s data could already be out of date. One thing that remains unchanged is that the numbers are astounding, with approximately 20 percent of hoteliers in the U.S. having been laid off or furloughed; 75 percent of U.S. hoteliers have lost hours; and resort staffing levels are down 90 percent nationwide.

There is a possibility that there will be an indefinite reduction in staff. We may even see something like a 20 percent reduction permanently in some hotel segments like luxury. This means that you must do everything you can to ensure that you are in the top 80 percent to have on staff, not the 20 percent that is made redundant. It will all come down to how hard you work and how you promote yourself during the hiring process, which has changed dramatically in the last two years.

Start with Social Media

An easy starting point is with your social media accounts, including LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn is an ideal platform for presenting yourself as an all-star professional. Check out this resource for improving your LinkedIn profile.

You also want to make sure you keep your Twitter account as professional as possible. You can do this in many ways: Interact primarily with blue checkmark individuals. Retweet professional information and link to professional websites. Share industry news and resources. Taillon stressed the point that you should be treating yourself like a brand – so  from that perspective, he shared this article on Twitter engagement that could apply not just to companies, but to your own personal brand, as well.

Become a Resume All Star

Resumes are no longer being read by human beings. Instead, they are run through resume scanning technologies. You need to make sure your resume looks as good as possible for the applicant tracking system (ATS). This article helps you understand the ATS and what you can do to get past it.

As you apply for several jobs, you can differentiate your resume for each job posting with your objective statement. Look at the hard skills listed in the job description and use those key words to match each unique job posting. When you list your experience, make sure to mention your skills, not your responsibilities, and include evidence-based numbers. Many people also think it looks more professional to submit their resume as a PDF. However, the resume scanners have consistently had issues reading and processing PDF documents. You want to make sure employers do not have trouble reading your resume. Submit it as a Word document instead.

You should also contact their human resources department or hiring person directly to follow up. Even if all they tell you is to wait for an email, that is okay – they are now going to be looking for your name. If you have done everything right, your chances in getting an interview are 20 percent. Keep applying for jobs so that you can get those 1-in-5 interviews.

One widely-used tool used by employers to vet potential employees is a personality test, often the Likert Scale, which measures how you feel about things and asks you to rate your feeling on a linear, 1-5 scale. There is a method to evaluating the results. Employers want front-line individuals to see the world in black and white, so they are looking for individuals to strongly feel one way or the other (they are looking for 1’s and 5’s). On the other hand, employers want managers  to think of things in a more nuanced way (so they are looking for 2’s and 4’s).

Build Your Skills

Now is the perfect time to build up your skills through professional development. During the pandemic, many organizations and companies have stepped up to offer virtual networking opportunities, online webinars and discounted (or free) certificate programs to help hospitality professionals improve their marketability. If you are a hospitality finance professional, consider two brand-new certificates being offered by HFTP: the USALI Theory and Practice Certificates. To learn more about HFTP certifications, please contact HFTP Certification Manager Robin Bogdon at certification@hftp.org.

About HFTP Hangouts

Download Taillon’s Hangout presentation slides for these best practices and additional tips outlined. Then, visit the HFTP website to learn more about HFTP Hangouts.

Briana Gilmore is the HFTP Communications Coordinator. Briana can be reached at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4017.

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About the Author: Briana Gilmore

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