A Day in the Life of a Hospitality Recruiter

For the last four years I have had the challenge of recruiting for the hospitality industry — trying to fill positions that are for the most part entry-level, low-paying jobs — with people who have outstanding interpersonal “people” skills in an industry that never closes.

Many of the positions I try to fill involve working evenings, weekends, and holidays, which causes me to eliminate close to 35 percent of candidates. If there is a differential for working overnight/graveyard shift or holidays, it is not significant. If I send candidates for post-offer drug tests, some never show. Others test positive.

The most important thing to remember as a recruiter, particularly in hospitality and without a doubt during busy seasons, is to act quickly. There are multiple institutions looking for help, from the same small applicant pool. As a recruiter, if I don’t respond in real time the candidates will lose interest. If an interview/offer is not prompt, the applicant moves on to the next business. Timeliness is key!

Postings on job boards such as Indeed or Glassdoor are a quick and easy way to reach a large audience. I particularly like Glassdoor. As a recruiter I can respond to reviews with positive comments and acknowledge and in some cases misperceptions detailed in reviews.

Face-to-face communication via hiring fairs and other community events is critical. The key to success in hospitality is superior customer service, something you just can’t gauge from reading someone’s resume or social media profile. I can teach someone a point-of-sale system or how to plate a salad. I cannot teach the value of getting to work on time or how to make small talk with the guests.

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Frequently, I visit the competition. No, I do not poach employees. One that can be poached will soon be poached by another organization. However, learning why hospitality employees love where they work can help improve the culture, environment, and morale of your workplace no matter how strong it currently is. Some factors, such as location, are out of the control of a recruiter. Others, such as more comfortable uniforms or a relaxed dress code, are discussion points for strategic planning meetings.

There are so many reasons hospitality is a great industry in which to build a career. My role is to paint that picture for future employees, and potential managers and leaders. I do that through continuous interaction with applicants; keeping up with industry trends, including competitive wages and benefits; clear articulation of job expectations, as well as opportunities for growth.

I continue to work as a hospitality recruiter because it allows you to meet people from all over the world as they experience new places for the first time (how many of us have vacations or tourist destinations on our bucket lists?) or return to a place that has fond memories. It provides schedule flexibility for college students, working mothers, and employees who have multiple jobs. Opportunities to cross train and learn more about the industry (which, by the way, continues to grow) are readily available for those who are interested. I almost feel like a matchmaker, connecting individuals with the drive and personality for this industry with jobs that, for many, will become careers.

Penny Fletcher has been a training professional across industries for almost 30 years.  She had 19 years’ experience as a teacher and administrator before transitioning to human resources, a field she has worked in for the last 14 years.  She holds both PHR and SHRM certifications and is also a certified Lean Leader in the Six Sigma program. Over the course of her human resources career, she has supported a school district, a government contractor, the Fort Worth, Texas Police Department, and a hotel/resort. She is very active in both the state and local SHRM affiliates, currently serving as president of Frontier Human Resources. She is also an industry champion for the Hospitality/Tourism Next Gen Sector Partnership in her area.

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