It wasn’t long ago that I found myself living in a new city across the country wondering what my next career move would be. Back in February, I had decided to take the plunge and relocate for a dream job at a renowned luxury hotel company. I had just completed the onboarding and training process when COVID-19 hit. Like so many others, I was challenged beyond measure. I bounced between coasts with uncertainty of where I would land, distanced from my wife for weeks at a time. It was difficult to say the least, but I was able to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m back in the position I want, and I learned a lot along the way.
Those who work in hospitality are accustomed to changing circumstances and using them to their advantage. For hotel leaders navigating the complexities of today’s job market, there’s a great opportunity not only to get re-hired (either by your former employer or a new one) but to come back stronger than ever, offering more in today’s unique business climate. Here are my best suggestions for doing so based on personal experience:
Wake up each morning and get dressed as though you are going to work. Having this routine will boost your morale and inject purpose into your new day-to-day life of looking for jobs.
Never stop networking, even after you’re rehired. Don’t be discouraged if those in your network take time getting back to you. Be patient and remember that everyone is busy trying to navigate these uncertain times. Radio silence can happen, even when people who you recently worked with say they will stay in touch or get back to you. Stay on top of your connections and continue to actively engage.
While it would be ideal to get re-hired for your previous job, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Think about other companies you’d like to work with and engage with their HR team. Visit locations that are within driving distance (following recommended safety guidelines) and deliver a personal gift like a pastry basket saying that you are thinking of them during this time. The calls I received to thank me helped open new doors and show my caring and thoughtful side of doing business.
Use all of your resources. Capitalize on your downtime by investing in career coaching or getting involved in industry associations. I have had contacts from associations I have been engaged with come back to me down the road asking for my expertise or involvement in such things as committees or talk shows, which has opened new doors of opportunity. Be willing to support them and make sure you can deliver on what they expect while looking for your next great move.
Focus on the timing of what companies are in need of. Sometimes you can create a need to learn more of what the resort or hotel is looking for and write down specific pain points. Bring solutions to the table and perhaps this may trigger a conversation now or down the road when they need something you previously mentioned.
Send articles of industry news to contacts that you want to stay in touch with (even better, send them articles that you have contributed to prominent industry publications). This lets them know you are really thinking of them, while at the same time helping keep you top of mind for when they may need something.
Be proactive by offering assistance in areas you’re a subject matter expert in. Give companies a taste of what you bring to the table without expecting anything in return. A little pro bono work can go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions through your network of connections. I have spoken to many senior leaders in this industry and they tell me they would rather hire someone they trust and know over a stranger. This is not always the case, but it helps.
Get recruiters looking for you. Having several sets of eyes hitting the ground makes your efforts easier when in search. Also embrace what recruiters tell you on positioning your resume and social media. They know the market and have clients looking for certain areas of a resume, so go with what they say if you can.
Remember that as a leader or frontline associate, you need to keep an open mind to learning other jobs that may not be directly related to what you were hired for. Continue to learn new jobs. In doing so, you will not only understand what your fellow associates are doing in their roles, but you will value and appreciate that you were given the opportunity to learn a new skill or job.
In the end, it is about delivering that highly sought level of personalized and caring service to guests every day. Having an “Innkeeper” thought process will help you deliver the highest level of luxury service guests expect, and that’s a good thing.
In many ways, this crisis underscores the hotel industry’s resilience. Unemployment may be at an all-time high, but we can count on the work coming back. I don’t say this as an out-of-touch executive. This year has pushed me to my limits, but in doing so I was able to reach new heights. It can do so for you, too.