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5 Tips for Marketing Your Hospitality Skills for the Corporate World

Last year average unemployment rates soared due to restrictions associated with COVID-19, with numbers peaking at nearly 15% in April 2020 — “the highest rate observed since data collection began in 1948” (Congressional Research Service). Accommodation and food services topped the list of the worst-impacted industries, with unemployment reaching 35.4% and 48.9% respectively.

In May of this year, unemployment in food services fell to 9%. While there are now many job openings in the industry, many former servers and back-of-house employees are hesitant to return due to the high-stress work environment and oftentimes limited opportunities for career advancement.

If you’re a former or current hospitality employee who’s hesitant to return or eager for a career change, you’re not alone. The good news is many companies currently need employees for corporate, administrative and clerical jobs, making now an excellent time to consider transferring your hospitality skills to a corporate career.

While employers may not immediately see the connection between your previous roles and their corporate position, you can market your experience strategically during your job search. Doing so can help you stand out to employers and highlight the skills you acquired in your previous role that will transfer to a new industry.

Here are five tips for marketing your existing hospitality-related skills for a different industry.

Emphasize Communication Skills

Communication skills are helpful in any job, but they are essential for operations and administrative roles (e.g., marketing, human resources, office management or procurement) in which employees interact with customers or corporate leadership frequently. Hospitality employees often excel at interpersonal communication and problem solving, and emphasizing these skills can help you stand out during the hiring process. On your resume and during the interview, be sure to highlight your experience in the following areas:

  • Working with a team
  • Communicating with customers
  • Delegating duties to other employees
  • Sharing feedback with coworkers

Before the interview, think about a few scenarios where you effectively used communication or teamwork skills to solve a pressing problem or rectify a customer complaint. Sharing these examples will provide evidence of how your abilities can transfer well to a corporate environment.

Furthermore, demonstrating your communication skills will lend credence to your capabilities. Focus on showcasing the following skills during the interview process to highlight your candidacy to recruiters:

  • Active listening: Pay close attention to the recruiter by asking questions, rephrasing statements to demonstrate understanding and avoiding distractions.
  • Nonverbal communication: Make sure your body language — including your facial expressions, hand movements, eye contact and body position — reflects a calm, yet confident and attentive demeanor.
  • Friendliness: Demonstrate a friendly, open persona to show recruiters how you would interact with customers and coworkers.

Sharing specific examples that highlight your ability to communicate well with customers, coworkers and supervisors will help hiring managers visualize you in their corporate role. And demonstrating those skills in person will help seal the deal, exemplifying the abilities you’ve learned throughout your hospitality career.

Highlight Soft Skills That Transfer to the Corporate World

Hospitality workers often hesitate to apply for corporate roles because they believe they don’t have adequate experience to land these positions. But in reality, many of the soft skills you acquired working in hospitality likely transfer well to a corporate environment, and you can relay these skills as evidence of your capacity to succeed in a new job field.

The hospitality industry develops employees who know how to think on their feet, stay calm in fast-paced environments and recognize the best ways to satisfy hard-to-please customers. All of these skills come into play for a wide range of operations and administrative roles.

Additionally, because the labor market is currently tight, many employers are more willing to hire candidates with transferrable skills, even if they lack direct experience in the corporate industry. Showing that you have desirable soft skills such as multitasking, time management, critical thinking and problem solving will help employers see your potential, even without explicit corporate experience.

Although employers are willing to consider a broader range of candidates for corporate roles, you’ll want to help them make the connection between your experience and the open position by highlighting your transferable skills on your resume and during the interview.

Craft a Compelling Resume

Including transferable skills on your resume can help your application stand out and get you to the next hiring stage where you can discuss your transferable experience in person (or through a virtual interview).

Many companies use computer applications to screen candidates based on keywords that align to the job description. For example, if a specific position requires candidates to have “communication,” “problem-solving” or “leadership” skills, the hiring software will prioritize resumes that include those keywords.

To help your application get past the computer-based vetting process and appeal to recruiters, be sure to emphasize transferable skills that relate to the job description — and make the connection to how they helped solve any business problems.

Here’s an example of how to list transferable skills in your resume:

Wrong: Helped guests check into their assigned hotel rooms

Right: Leveraged verbal communication and customer service skills to assist guests throughout their stay

An eye-catching resume includes job-specific transferable skills — in this case “verbal communication” and “customer service” — which both appeal to operations and administrative recruiters.

Additionally, you may already have some of the exact skills the employer is looking for that you’ve acquired while working in unrelated roles. For example, if you worked as a receptionist, you may have problem-solving skills that recruiters desire for administrative roles. Be sure to include any relevant skills from the job description on your resume as well.

Make Connections During the Interview

Once you reach the interview stage of the hiring process, you’ll have the opportunity to share real-life examples in which you used your transferable skills. Recruiters will likely ask you to discuss specific scenarios in which you demonstrated corporate-relevant skills in your previous job.

For example, hiring managers may ask you to describe situations in which you:

  • Worked with a team to solve a problem
  • Accomplished a significant goal at work
  • Navigated a conflict on the job

But simply describing these situations in your previous hospitality roles may not be enough to convince recruiters of your aptitude for a corporate position. Instead, you should highlight the key transferable skills (e.g., adaptability, teamwork, creativity or attention to detail) that you exhibited in these scenarios.

Showcasing your transferable skills during an interview will help the recruiter understand your compatibility with the new role, even if you lack prior corporate experience.

Stress Your Unique Abilities and Experiences

Even if you don’t have direct experience in the role you’re applying for, your unique experiences and soft skills in the hospitality world could set you apart from other candidates.

Perhaps you organized an event for several hundred guests, trained a team of new cooks or even collaborated with management to create a new menu or promotional event. Recruiters will want to hear about these experiences, especially if you’re able to show how they relate to the job you’re applying for.

Before you head into an interview for a corporate job, consider the distinct skills you’ve picked up in your hospitality job and how they could benefit your new employer. Practice relating your skills and experiences to elements listed in the job description. This can help connect the dots for the recruiter or hiring manager when reviewing your resume or during the interview process.

Your existing skill set might not be directly related, so it’s imperative to share examples of how your experience is relevant and how your skills will benefit the company in the long term.

Be Realistic

As a worker with hospitality experience, you have many skills and abilities that could lead to a successful career in the corporate world. However, you should be realistic about the types of corporate roles you should apply for with your current skill set.

The application process can be time consuming, but it’s worth the effort if you approach it strategically. For example, applying to corporate jobs that require experience well outside your range of expertise might not be fruitful. Instead, you should focus your efforts on jobs where you can make the case that your skills and abilities will transfer.

A few roles to consider include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Customer service
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Sales

Focusing your job search on introductory corporate positions will allow you to maximize your time spent on applications, which will increase your chances of securing a role in a new field.

During your job search, you may notice that many entry-level corporate roles require at least two years of experience in the industry. While you should be realistic about your previous experience, don’t be discouraged from applying for these types of introductory roles. Your transferrable skills from your hospitality role could make up for the two-year experience requirement.

However, if you reach the interview stage and find that a job may be too far outside your wheelhouse, be careful not to overstate your skills to meet recruiters’ demands. Be realistic about your prior experience and existing skill set and focus your efforts on positions where you’ll succeed.

Express Your Willingness to Learn

In addition to highlighting your unique experiences and transferable soft skills, emphasizing your ability and willingness to learn may help convince recruiters of your aptitude for a new industry.

During your interview, be prepared to discuss times when you had to quickly pick up new skills, procedures or technologies (e.g., a new POS system). This will give your recruiter a better understanding of your adaptability. For example, you can talk about the training process you went through to learn your most recent job or how you proactively sought additional responsibilities to grow and expand your role.

As you break into a new industry, you may need extensive training to learn the intricacies of the new job. Showing recruiters that you’re ready and willing to learn will instill confidence that you’ll succeed in the new role.

Being honest with yourself and recruiters about your inexperience in the corporate world, while emphasizing your willingness and interest to learn, will exemplify your ability to transition to a corporate role.

Final Thoughts

Many professionals in the hospitality industry feel reluctant to make a career change due to lack of experience. But given the fact that over 72,000 corporate positions opened up in June 2021 alone, employers are interested in considering a more diverse range of candidates to fill these roles — even those who don’t meet traditional experience requirements. So, making a career change from the hospitality industry to the corporate world may not be as challenging as you think.

You should never underestimate the important skills and abilities you learned in your previous roles. Your transferable skills, unique experiences and commitment to continual learning will help you succeed in a corporate role and start an impactful career in an exciting new industry.

To learn more about how to effectively transition from the hospitality industry to a corporate role, connect with Aston Carter today.