There are always good jobs for good talent: What to know before transitioning out of hospitality

October 29, 2020
min read

Undeniably, the hospitality industry is facing unprecedented challenges this year. But do the hospitality challenges and opportunities outweigh working in this space?

We heard this question from our Talent, so earlier this year Jitjatjo partnered with AthenaWise, a professional training and coaching company.  Our mission at Jitjatjo is human betterment, and to us, that means encouraging our Talent’s growth in and beyond our industry.  AthenaWise Founder Nancy Medoff is a confidence and influence expert who teaches professionals how to communicate their value when it matters most, and arguably, it’s never mattered more.  With Nancy, Jitjatjo launched career workshops so Talent could focus on professional growth, identifying career goals, persuasive resume writing, and remote interview training to reskill and/or find a new job.

We see this global experience as a time for workers to recenter their hospitality career and find the best path forward, whatever that ultimately means for them.  So, we reconnected with Nancy for some insights on how hospitality workers can find faster promotions, better projects, and even unicorn jobs in a time of COVID and discuss if transitioning out of the hospitality industry may be right for them. Here’s what the 20-year career coaching expert has to say:

What is the biggest challenge hospitality workers face right now?

You can’t underestimate hope. Every time I turn on the news or get a news update, it’s awful.  It’s important to differentiate the propaganda from the facts. You must weed through everything you’re hearing and make your own decision on what the industry outlook is, critically looking at the source and what their self-serving interest may be.  

Factually, the Number One challenge is fairly apparent: there are over 30 million out of work hospitality workers.  Because of that, competition is steep.  One large industry employer recently posted several opportunities, and for one job, there were over 700 applicants.  Exponentially, there are more applicants than there are jobs right now.  

What does that mean for Talent?

In good times as much as in challenging ones, there are jobs for qualified, good people. Recruiters aren’t looking at 700 resumes, so standing out is table stakes.  You cannot simply apply and think you’re going to get selected.  You need to separate from the herd and think about what the audience or the hiring manager needs to know.

How do you recommend making a resume stand out?

Hospitality worker skills are highly transferable, but YOU need to make that connection for the hiring manager, even when applying within the industry.  Depending on who is reading your resume/application, they may not make the connection themselves.  You can’t assume they will make it. For your cover letter, this could be something as blunt as “I’ve been in the hospitality workforce for X years, and my passion is taking care of people, so I would thrive at doing Y in your business.”  This is as true when applying to a staffing company like Jitjatjo as it is for your unicorn job as it is for an application in any industry.    

Your blog, Unmute Yourself, talks about job search self-sabotage.  What does this mean?

The clearer and more specific you are about what you are looking for, the more people can help you. Self-sabotage begins with not being precise. “I’m looking for any job that will put food on the table” may be accurate, but you could better say, “While I will take anything, ideally I am looking for a job where I can use my project management skills or my people skills, or for someone who is a hard worker you can emphasize that you are a hard worker who takes direction well and this will be well received.”

How do you see Jitjatjo being part of the reskilling and restaffing solution?

Jitjatjo has its eye on those transferable skills its Talent naturally possess and is actively going after staffing opportunities in new industries on their behalf.  This is a great opportunity to continue to work until the restaurant, and hotel industry is fully back, test new industries in a low-risk environment, and to tap into new skill sets.  Ride the momentum Jitjatjo is creating.

What should people with hospitality jobs be doing right now?

Your career is not at a standstill because the industry is.  Give yourself permission to have forward-thinking thoughts and then act on them.  If you do have a job and you want to rise within your organization, the challenge is that most people are in survival mode and not thinking about longer than 3-6 months out.  Your boss or manager may not have time or emotional energy to proactively dedicate to making this happen for you.  With that said, just because times are tough right now doesn’t mean you can’t self-advocate.  You can thoughtfully ask for a raise or better shifts.  Something as simple as “I’m really happy here and appreciate the company now more than ever, so I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to support our business.  That’s why I’d like to get some time with you to talk about…. (my future/the possibility of more shifts/a specific position).  The goal here is to just get a conversation started.

Do you have advice on changing careers from the hospitality industry?

Leaving the service industry doesn’t mean you can’t come back.  There are a lot of people I am coaching right now who are leaving with the intent to come back.  They are applying their skills to in-demand industries such as online learning, elder care, retail/grocery, hospitality software, and anything tech or telework support – think about your skillset and what industries are hiring and make the connections.  Look at like industries and demonstrate how those skills are transferable.  Listen when you are out and about- who is telling you they are busy?  Now go talk to them.  It is always good to know what your options are.

If you do decide to leave the industry with the intent of going back, make sure to keep in touch.  The floodgates will open for hospitality, and the competition will be fierce as much then as it is now.  It goes without saying to leave on good terms, but make sure you stay on good terms by checking in every now and then.  

Thanks, Nancy.


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