Aim higher when hiring: Tips for improving recruitment
Aim higher when hiring: Tips for improving recruitment
23 JANUARY 2018 8:44 AM

There are new trends to consider when it comes to hiring and retaining employees, including utilizing technology to the fullest as well as being more interactive and experiential with recruiting methods. 

At a time when the influence of new technology, the emergence of new hospitality competitors and impact of millennials and younger consumers are combining to spur profound change in the hotel industry, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that hotel professionals are beginning to think about and implement new approaches to recruiting and hiring.

A closer look at some of the new priorities and practices that are changing the way prospective employees are identified, interviewed and integrated into an organization may reveal some important insights into the future of the hotel industry.

For example, how have approaches to recruiting shifted in the last few years, how might they shift in the next several years—and beyond?

New technologies
I firmly believe that over the course of the next 10 years or so we are going to witness a sea change in the hotel labor arena.

One of the biggest factors to monitor is the relative scarcity of quality candidates at a time when the industry is continuing to grow—sometimes at a record pace. As we continue to build hotels, and as the overall labor pool continues to shrink, we are going to see great demands on our human capital. As a result, our ability to fill those jobs is unsurprisingly going to become increasingly strained.

As companies begin to ratchet up their efforts to hire the best and brightest, one of the ways they will be looking to innovate is by becoming more efficient in the way they operate and more effective in the way they communicate.

Given those goals, I expect the hotel industry will increasingly rely on technology to replace humans wherever possible—in the workforce, of course, but also during the hiring process.

The days of paper applications and phone calls are already largely a thing of the past. The primary medium of communication is through the web and through texting and other forms of instant messaging. Social media plays an increasingly important role, too. Prospective employees are looking for and evaluating your online presence, hotels are advertising through job portals and we are even seeing the advent of Uber-like employment models: apps where qualified professionals can register to perform temporary or contract work. Using these platforms, a hotel anticipating a busy weekend or hosting a big event can go to a service, such as Shiftgig here in Chicago, and search through a (pre)qualified pool of candidates to essentially hire a temporary workforce.

Another place we see technology influencing the way candidates are recruited and hired is through Skype and other video communications platforms. These tools are already making a tremendous difference in the workplace. We are one of a growing number of hotels who do a lot of our team activities and group communication via Skype, and it should come as no surprise that video interviews are already a reality. While they are more common in management jobs, I expect to see this trend continuing to expand and become more common in the years ahead.

New demographics
As an industry, we have already recognized that our primary new target market—both as consumers and as potential employees—is the millennials (and younger generations to follow). But the millennials’ value systems are constructed very differently than past generations, and companies need to be aware of and prepared for that change. Millennials famously have a great sense of “me,” so recruiting messaging will need to shift to selling benefits and features just like we sell our products. Instead of talking about your company and its rich history, you are going to have to instead tout the benefits that a candidate will realize when working for your organization.

Happily, the hotel industry has seen an increasing emphasis on diversity in recent years, I expect that to continue to grow in the years ahead; recruiting pitches and practices will need to evolve accordingly. We live in an increasingly diverse world, and an integral part of any company’s success in the future will be based on its ability to provide a workplace that is open and welcoming to people from all walks of life. How do you do that? It starts with a shift in thinking. But you also have to take meaningful and concrete steps to make sure your workplace is a welcoming one. Those might include proven programs to recognize and reward women and minorities.

How, who and where you recruit will also need to change. We are already aggressively recruiting in non-traditional areas and working harder to find non-traditional applicants. We firmly believe that if a candidate has basic attributes like character and commitment, they can be easily trained in skillset specifics. For example, we just began a new project here at FHG with some of our new hotels in Chicago that allow us to reach into neighborhoods that are dealing with higher unemployment to provide people the chance and an opportunity to embrace a hotel career.

New creativity
In addition to new tools and new priorities, hotel owners and operators will need to continue to get more creative to recruit and retain top candidates. At our Hancock hotel property in Findlay, Ohio, for example, a unique new recruiting tool is already in place.

The hotel opened up a street-level “storefront” that we are already using as a way to help recruit: attracting candidates to review available job opportunities, conducting on-site interviews and generating additional positive publicity in the process. This is really just an extension of what we have always tried to do, which is to create a base from which we can recruit locally. This new storefront/model approach simply makes that whole process a little more experiential, which might not sound like a big deal, but the ability to stand out—and to be a little different and more interesting than the next guy—will give you an essential edge in what is already becoming an increasingly competitive job market.

Robert Habeeb is president and CEO of First Hospitality Group, Inc., a national, experienced, and established hospitality management and development company serving the investment and real estate industries. Since 1985, FHG has been an award-winning pioneer in the hospitality industry. FHG has successfully developed, marketed and managed more than 16 brands and 50 properties throughout the Midwest. Visit

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