Hospitality & Tourism - A Dynamic Industry
In 2008, I found myself at my first crossroad in life – picking a course of study in Poly. Then, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa were just blueprints, but to an energetic and somewhat clueless teenager at 16, a career that didn't involve being married to an office cubicle was surely my destiny.
3 years later, I begin to attend interviews for hotels and airlines, and one that involved 6 stages held over 2 days turned out to be my first job. How exactly do you get employed in this booming industry? Many people will tell you things that are either vague or painfully obvious. “Oh, be well groomed! Be punctual!”
But here's a list of that will actually help you nail it.
The Low-down On Securing A Job
1. Talk to random people
Making small talk with strangers trains you to be conversational. In this industry, you have to be able to build rapport with people from all walks of life within a matter of minutes. The next time you see a bored passenger or a tourist who looks lost, approach them. From experience, they’re almost always open to conversation.
The worst that can happen? The aunty waves her hands in your face saying “no no, I don’t want to buy!” Even then, you’ll have learned something most people don’t normally get: how to handle rejection gracefully - a skill that you won’t learn in school but is incredibly valuable in the service industry.
2. Brace yourself for the industry’s quirks
Truth is, this industry isn’t the easiest to be in. The hours are long, and there are no such thing as weekends and public holidays. You’re probably going to miss out on many festivities, apologise to friends a lot for missing gatherings, and be on your feet for longer than you think. Yet in spite of these, the industry’s dynamic nature brings different adventures - no two days are the same. During the interview, show that while you know the perils and pains to expect, and that you are adaptable enough to keep up.
3. Be proactive but discerning about experience
Hands-on experience is a fantastic way to supplement your credentials and discover which sector of the industry you like best. But instead of snagging up any opportunity that comes your way, think about what would be most convincing to a prospective employer so that your time would be well-invested! For example, if you’re an aspiring hotelier, experience at full-service restaurants is way more relevant and convincing than that at random froyo kiosks that cater to kids at the mall.
4. Referrals go a long way
Another reason to work at large establishments: the guests you serve are more likely to write legit letters of compliments. There’s a higher chance that your company will write you a letter of recommendation too. These testaments to your abilities will be immensely helpful for future job applications, so even if you gotta be thick-skinned to nudge and bug your ex-supervisor, go for it!
5. Seize opportunities to network
The world brings you to more places with connections. Even if you’re on a temporary gig, don’t hold back from building relationships and exchanging contacts with colleagues and customers - it’ll help open more doors to keep your options open. Also, your boss might know the boss of another organization who might know the boss of your dream company!
I’ll say it - extroverts have it easier when with networking, but introverts needn’t be daunted. Set optimal conditions to socialize by being well-rested, planning conversations and creating pockets of time between each one to recharge.
6. Have a kickass resume
“I actually thought, I haven’t done everything I can...I’ve done the same thing multiple times, but I haven’t tried new approaches.”
said Nina Mufleh, whose resume for Airbnb took the entire internet by storm and made all our Microsoft Word 97 versions look super lame. The point is, yours doesn’t have to be wordy or boring! Revamp it, keep it concise, maybe even create an infographic out of it so it’s more interesting for the HR people to look at.
Also, if your resume is in Comic Sans MS, for the love of all that is good, no.
7. Research extensively before you apply
It’s a no brainer that research has to be done before an interview, but just reading the company’s “About Us” section counts for nearly nothing. Say you applied for a position at Hilton hotel, these are the things you should find out:
- How’s the hotel’s service culture like?
- Any first-hand experience?
- Is it part of any alliance like ACCOR or Starwood?
- Are there plans for any takeovers or mergers?
- How’s their market share like in the industry?
- And what are some of their strongest competitors?
*Yawn* This stuff sounds technical and boring, but they demonstrate depth and knowledge. And it’s better than saying stuff like “I love that you guys recycle.”
8. Treat your interviewer as you will a guest
When applying for hospitality positions, the interview is a preview of how you’ll interact with people on the job. On top of the basic etiquette about firm handshakes and genuine smiles, pay attention to the finer details.
In this industry, you can never be too well-groomed. Even when the conversation is casual, speak perfect English and remember your niceties. Wherever possible, practise kind gestures like holding the door or lift for others. If you look and act the part, you make it easier for the interviewer to visualize you as an employee.
9. Learn how to sell yourself
In the industry, issues gotta be resolved in real time, so you don’t have the luxury of drafting a perfect apology in the comfort of your swivel chair. As such, the industry values teamwork, problem resolution and recovery skills.
Nearly every interview I attended required me to discuss instances where I’ve demonstrated these skills. It helps to tap on your previous experiences and have a couple of stories at the back of your head. Keep them concise to hold attention but substantial enough to show your capabilities. It’s the perfect opportunity to show off!
10. Be qualified
My days of studying Hospitality and Tourism management were the most interesting in my entire academic life. Partly because I finally broke free from science and math, but it mostly had to do with how hands-on and applicable the lessons were.
Some might say that a university degree is no more than “just a piece of paper”. But in a job market that’s ridiculously competitive, experience is no longer enough. It’s only through further education that you can enhance and refine your skills. This adds value to prospective employers and helps you to progress in your career.
PSB academy offers a variety of programs, like Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Marketing and Tourism in partnership with, Edinburgh Napier University, one of the top 100 universities in UK, and Australia's Number One University, The University of Newcastle. Find out more on their website now or fill up the form below to request for brochures!
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