The shortage of technology workers in the U.S. has been widely publicized. But they’re not the only industry struggling to find qualified workers. PCMA calls it the “perfect storm for the hospitality industry,” as regulators tighten immigration policies and unemployment hovers below 4%. Business Insider reports there are currently one million unfilled jobs in the hospitality industry today.
Finding qualified hospitality workers is incredibly difficult these days, so recruiting for hotels, golf courses, restaurants, spas, cruise ships, and other industries in the field takes perseverance and creativity. What are the challenges and how can you overcome them?
The Challenges of Hospitality Recruitment
More people are traveling than ever before, and hotels, theme parks, bars, and other hospitality businesses often struggle to keep up. Despite the labor shortage, travelers keep vacationing and developers keep building.
Business Insider reports that the number of hotel guest rooms increased to 5.4 million in 2018. Oxford Economics says developers keep building, and more than 2,270 inns, hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts have been added to the U.S. economy in the last three years. The Florida Cruise Ship Association documented that cruise ship occupancy in 2017 surpassed all records, with 25.8 million passengers riding the waves. The number increased in 2018 and is projected to continue to trend upward.
With more than a million unfilled jobs in the hospitality field, there simply aren’t enough workers to keep things running smoothly.
The lower the unemployment rates, the more the hospitality field competes with other fields like food service or retail. Hospitality recruitment is becoming more challenging, as worker pools dry up and as competitors offer more money and benefits to attract experienced workers.
Travelers will feel the labor shortage in longer check-in lines, slower maintenance requests, and fewer on-site dining options. Will hospitality managers have to scale back their amenities? They might if hospitality recruitment doesn’t find new ways to overcome the perception that these jobs are just low-wage, seasonal opportunities and a stepping stone to a “real” career.
How To Recruit Hospitality Staff Hiring Managers in the hospitality field have their work cut out for them, but there are some things they can do to improve the recruiting process:
- Create an environment where employees want to work. Today’s workers want to know they have opportunities to advance, according to HR Dive. If you want to attract top talent, be sure to improve work environment and team camaraderie. Market your positive work environment to show potential employees the opportunities you offer.
- Build your employer brand by increasing your marketing efforts. Today’s recruiting efforts are often more like sales, so market yourself in new ways to attract candidates. Perception is reality, so improving your careers page by making it mobile friendly and including video that will attract millennials is just the beginning.
Create clearly written, fun job ads that talk about your great culture and room for advancement, instead of just focusing on the skills you need. Work with your marketing team beyond attracting guests; use their skills to spiff up your hospitality recruitment efforts.
- Mine your employee relationships. Chances are that many of the candidates you’re trying to hire today are already employed. To reach these candidates, hiring managers should use the power of their social media connections. That means encouraging your current team members to repost ads to get the word out to their networks. You can improve partcipation by incentivizing employee referrals to encourage workers to invite their friends and family to join your team. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to regularly boost your job ads, as well as creating and sharing employee videos on why working at your venue is appealing. We know this technique works well; studies show more than one-third of hospitality workers find jobs through word of mouth – not on job boards.
- Be proactive and target passive candidates. According to Forbes, passive job seekers make up about 70% of the global workforce today. These candidates are not actively looking for a job, but are open to new opportunities. Hospitality recruitment can find solid candidates from this pool by proactively targeting these candidates. Since 81% of Americans have a social media profile, these platforms can be used to proactively reach passive job candidates. Engaging with candidates online is just as important as attending job fairs — and just as effective.
- Seek relevant experience, even if it’s not specifically in hospitality. Today’s tight labor market requires a think-outside-the-box strategy. Consider the candidate’s skill set, not just their experience, when hiring. Even if the candidate doesn’t have the right industry background, do they have crossover skills and are they teachable? Bringing in a diverse group of people to your team with different professional backgrounds can help your business improve. Be open minded about the candidate’s job experience while looking closely at the soft skills that make up the best leaders and customer service teams.
Nobody ever said hospitality recruitment would be easy, but these techniques will help tip the balance in favor of your continuing to hire despite a tight labor pool. Another way to improve the odds you’ll find new talent is by switching out your old technology for tools geared specifically for the challenges of today’s hospitality recruitment efforts.