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How to land a job in the hospitality industry

Whether you choose to work in accommodation and food services, health and fitness, or bars, clubs and pubs, there are great employment opportunities available to those who have a passion for people and service.

Hospitality is a people-orientated industry with customer service at its heart. Whether you choose to work in accommodation and food services, health and fitness, or bars, clubs and pubs, there are great employment opportunities available to those who have a passion for people and service.

Academic qualifications vs experience

There are many routes into hospitality jobs and you don't always need qualifications to get them. Some people start with on-the-job training while others complete a graduate scheme, and then go on to gain extra qualifications as they progress.

Ben Bengougam, Vice President of Human Resources for Hilton Worldwide says: 'Academic qualifications have their place, particularly when the degree has included practical time in industry and provides a managerial entry point and fast track to senior roles. However, nothing can ever be better than work experience, time spent learning and doing the job or delivering brand propositions and customer service through all of the jobs that exist in a hotel.'

Ben, who started his own career washing pots in a hotel kitchen, adds: 'Many of our hotel general managers and senior executives started in the kitchens cleaning dishes let alone cooking them, or cleaning rooms, and almost all in very junior positions.'

Jo-mandi Templeton, Operations Manager at Evolve Hospitality, agrees. 'Qualifications are always a fabulous starting point but you can't beat on-the-job experience.'

Evolve Hospitality, which sponsors the National Chef and National Young Chef of the Year, has set up their own Training Centre of Excellence where they conduct daily compulsory training free of charge to new registrations, and skill-test chefs in their mock-up kitchen.

Jo-mandi says: 'We are seeing a huge gap in the chef sector when it comes to entry-level jobs, and having the right skills and experience is key to getting them.'

Simon Parsons, Head of Hospitality & Leisure at Admore Recruitment agrees that experience is important, but points out that those who want to progress to a senior position should plan what qualifications they need to get the job.

'If you're a graduate looking for your first opportunity or a senior director looking for your first COO/MD role, then it may be your qualifications over experience that sets you aside from other candidates,' says Simon.

Transferable skills

What if you're a career changer starting your job search, but don't have experience within the hospitality sector? It's good to know that employers value transferable skills too.

Ben says: 'We consider candidates from all areas and increasingly from outside the industry. Language and customer service skills are universal and therefore always transferable, and there are many roles that can be performed, particularly in the specialist functions that can transfer well too.'

For example, employers may value health and safety knowledge and a background in sustainability, skills in marketing and IT (developing online booking systems or promoting their business via social media) and budget management (purchasing stock and dealing with staff wages).

How to impress at interview

To stand out at interview, you need to sell your personality and outlook, as much as your qualifications, skills and experience.

Most clients ask themselves three things during an interview, according to Simon. First, does the candidate have the correct skills for the role. Secondly, do they have the passion, energy and drive to succeed in the role; and finally, are they a good cultural fit for the team and business.

Simon advises doing your research. 'You need to know what the business is currently up to and what their strategy is moving forward. Try to visit some sites. Though this is not a pre-requisite for your interview, it shows that you are keen and committed, as well as giving you a good insight into the company you are looking to join.'

During the interview, you should be able to talk through your CV confidently with clear examples of not just what you have achieved, but how you have achieved your results, says Simon. It's also important to get your energy and passion across.

Ben agrees that having the right outlook is vital. 'I always say we recruit for attitude and can train the required skills. To achieve your potential in the industry requires a passion for it, flexibility (we work when everyone else plays), positive energy, hard work, and a willingness to take on new opportunities to learn and grow.'

Opportunities in the sector

When it comes to employment opportunities within the industry, the future looks bright.

Simon says: 'There seems to be a real sense of optimism, particularly within the pub sector with the acquisition of Spirit by Greene King, the continued growth of Stonegate and the re-positioning of businesses such as Enterprise and Punch moving into franchised and managed operations.'

Ben is similarly upbeat about careers in hospitality: 'This industry more than most (I can only think of retail as providing similar opportunities) offers the most extraordinary and exciting career opportunities for those that want to succeed.'

Interested in working in hospitality industry? Find Jobs on CareerBuilder.co.uk!

Image Copyright: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock.com