A First Step to a Hospitality Career

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A hospitality career is exciting, challenging and full of opportunities to gain skill and experience in a great variety of jobs. Many aspiring hoteliers get their degrees in hotel management or culinary arts and then want to waltz into a management position with all the perks. Many of those new college graduates find themselves being offered an entry level position in order to gain the experience, training and exposure they need to effectively manage and lead later in their career. Hospitality is one of those industries where starting at the entry level has advantages.

When I was HR Director for a destination Hotel/Resort, it seems we always had job openings for entry-level positions like housekeeper, server and dishwasher. These entry level jobs were not glamorous or highly-paid. They didn’t come with a lot of perks or even a business card. While they are high-profile jobs with regard to customer contact, they were incorrectly labeled lower level, unskilled jobs that required a lot of physical work without a lot of opportunity.

I have often felt that the housekeeper or houseman in a hotel/motel are the most unappreciated and hardest working individuals on the hospitality team. After all, a hotel is in the business of selling rooms, and the appearance, cleanliness and comfort of the rooms are factors that determine repeat business. Depending on the size of the hotel, many housekeepers are required to service 14 to 18 rooms per shift. This requires a tremendous amount of organization, attention to detail, multi-tasking, speed, and accuracy. It also requires a high degree of integrity, honesty, professionalism, diplomacy, tact, problem solving and customer service skill. Notice I didn’t list experience making a bed? You can train the right individual how to make a bed according to specifications, but you can’t train a person to smile or to be honest.

Housekeepers get an upfront view of what guests require and what it takes to meet their expectations. They are essential in obtaining positive feedback from guests, which in turn affects the overall success and profitability of the hotel. Great housekeepers make it easier on the rest of the team, by identifying and solving problems at the point of contact with the guest.

Smart hoteliers require supervisors and managers take a turn working all positions in the hotel, and a month or two in housekeeping helps them appreciate through first-hand experience what services these individuals provide every day. I have seen many excellent housekeepers move up into supervisory and management positions. When they become part of the management team, they become great trainers and have earned the right to set high standards for their teams, since they worked hard to succeed themselves. Every position has its rewards. Doing your best job wherever you are will help you get your foot in the door and on your way.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a workplace consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Hospitalityjobsite.com. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and creating original gift items available on http://www.etsy.spoolhardy.com/. You can read more of her blogs at hospitalityjobsiteblog.com and view additional job postings on Nexxt.

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