Despite current high unemployment rates, hoteliers looking to hire as well as potential applicants are finding the process frustrating.
Somehow in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was invited to become a member of a Facebook group called Hospitality Family, which currently counts nearly 60,000 hoteliers as members.
It has been both fascinating and insightful to read the many comments posted there daily by hoteliers of all disciplines and experience levels. While Hospitality Family originally served as a sort of support group for those who were furloughed or laid-off, members also share interesting comments and observations on other aspects of the hotel industry.
Lately members are sharing their experiences from throughout the hiring cycle—application, interview, receipt of an offer and eventually onboarding and “first day” experiences. Others share their views from the other side of the equation—recruitment and interviewing.
Hoteliers often complain that despite the unemployment rates they are having a hard time finding qualified applicants, while many applications are frustrated and disappointed with their experiences. Some re-evaluation could help on both accounts. Here are some recommendations:
Mystery shop the application experience
Just as hoteliers use mystery shoppers to evaluate the guest experience, it would be insightful to have friends and other contacts in your professional network mystery shop the experience of applying for a position at your hotel. How easy or hard is it to find out where to apply to your hotel when visiting your website or Facebook page? How easy or frustrating is the entire application and interview process?
Mandatory fields in online applications
Do you frustrate applicants by requiring them to re-enter information too many times, or to enter irrelevant information? Most online applications allow for the resume to be uploaded, but many also require the details for all previous employers to be entered manually. This can be time consuming for those with a longer work history, so consider having your system require applicants to only manually enter the three most recent employers.
Requiring every applicant to complete a pre-employment assessment could throw-up a barrier to candidates who are perfectly qualified but who move on down the list of job postings when they see a required test. If you are using them, consider doing so only once an applicant has been invited to interview, or as a final pre-condition to schedule an interview.
Several posts in the Hospitality Family group relay how impressed applicants have been with how their interview was handled, whether in-person or virtual. They seem to be particularly impressed when a senior manager such as a GM or division head takes time to speak with them, even when the main interviewer was a first level manager.
Avoid 'ghosting' applicants
The biggest complaint I read is how disappointed applicants are when they have been told they are a finalist but they never hear back. Have the courtesy to thank the applicant for their interest and for the time they took to interview. At least send a personalized email, but really you should make a phone call. Not only is this common courtesy, but it also leaves a lasting impression on candidates who may reapply in the future when the labor market is less advantageous to the employers and when the applicant has achieved additional experience and become a more desirable candidate.
The first day is like a first date
Once hired, make an extra effort to welcome newly hired staff with the same spirit of hospitality that you want them to have when they welcome guests. Think back to your last “first day” experience. Chances are that you probably slept lightly in anticipation of the big day, feeling both excitement and trepidation. Chances are that you could not wait to get home and tell a loved one, parent or roommate about your experiences.
Larger hotels may have staff begin in a group orientation class. If so, be sure that the GM and/or other executives stop by early on to welcome them and to discuss the hotel’s mission statement or core values. If the first day does not start with a group orientation, be sure the onboarding supervisor properly introduces the new hire to co-workers and leaders. Remember to cover the “soft skills” of hospitality and guest service excellence first, before you start training on computer systems and processes, to demonstrate that creating personalized guest experiences is always the first priority.
Doug Kennedy is president of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. Contact him at email@example.com.
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