Ms. Gioia

Human Resources, Recruitment & Training

Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Finding the Talent You Need

By Joyce Gioia, CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc.

Worldwide, the hospitality industry is going through a transformation. In response to workforce shortages, many employers have looked for---and found---ways to reduce staff by using automation. Despite this trend, there are continuing shortages of skilled workers from frontline housekeepers to general managers. Hospitality leaders are looking for and finding innovative ways to find the talent. This article will give you an overview of what's working for general managers and their human resource professionals to find the people they need to staff their properties.

Connect Early

While many hoteliers are participating in programs with high schools and community colleges, far fewer have recognized the value of reaching out to elementary schools and even pre-schools to offer property tours and explanations of the careers that are available to graduates. Hospitals are soliciting pre-school visits; why shouldn't hoteliers be doing it, too?

And when the youngsters come to work with their chaperones, have your own staff describe their jobs in ways that sound fun and engaging. Use your best frontline staff, those employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs. Enthusiasm is contagious; use it to your best advantage. You could even create a video of each of your best employees talking about how much they like their jobs and put that in the careers area on your website. Your employees will love seeing themselves on the screen, and it will help you to recruit others

Reach Out to Schools and Colleges and Let Them Know What Skills You're Looking For

Many employers are frustrated when graduates don't have the skills they are looking for. School, college, and university instructors are not clairvoyant. They do not know what skills you value in your employees, unless you tell them. They might even be able to put those skills into a curriculum. If your need is great enough, you could even reach out to a local vocational high school and ask them to create a certificate program for you in housekeeping or hospitality engineering.

Internships and Apprenticeships (Especially Engineering)

Internships and apprenticeships are commonly for front-of-the-house customer-facing positions, like the Front Desk or the Bell Desk. Consider hiring an apprentice for HR or Engineering? We have seen interns at many properties, but few apprenticeships.

Case Study: The Royal Hawaiian, a Westin/Marriott Property, Honolulu

About a year and a half ago, we were attending a conference at The Royal Hawaiian, a Westin/Marriott Property in Honolulu, Hawaii. There we had the privilege of meeting Woodrow Matthews, a student at Hawaii Pacific University in Hospitality & Tourism Management. While going to school full time, he also held a fulltime position with the hotel as Concierge Ambassador. In that position, his job was and is to host celebrities like John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, who happened to be visiting at the time we were there.

Digging deeper, we discovered that Woodrow was recruited as an intern in his sophomore year and management was so pleased with his performance that they offered him a full-time job, working around his school schedule. He is still with the property, expecting to graduate in 2017.

We see this action on the part of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, as a model for other hotels and resorts. In these times of limited talent availability, we believe that engaging a talented young person like Woodrow is a brilliant move on the part of Westin to begin grooming young talent, while they are still in school.

Though working around Woodrow's class schedule may, at times, present a challenge, we know that the effort is well worth the investment to be able to engage such an intelligent and talented young person and predispose him to working with the brand upon graduation.

Another forward-thinking hotelier is using apprentices to staff their engineering department. The apprentice, who has already graduated from a certificate program, typically shadows the chief engineer for a couple of months, and once he is ready, he is sent out on jobs solo. Sometimes he may need additional help, but when you "grow your own" in this way, young people are typically very grateful.

HR apprentices will begin by handling transactional details of communicating with employees and admin duties, involving low-level tasks. It is wise to let them sit-in on higher-level conversations as soon as possible, if you are grooming them for bigger jobs. Oftentimes, your apprentices will have different and valuable perspectives you may not have seen because you have been in the job for many years.

Add Value for Your Front Line Staff with Education About the Industry

One of the key benefits that young people are looking for today is training and development. You can enhance their employee experiences with your own form of education, simply by explaining to them the nuts and bolts of being a hospitality leader. Show them the dollars and sense of what it takes to run a hotel property. You will soon discover that they are hungry to learn and grow.

Make Sure You Include Career Pathing in Your Interview

Young people who are staring out in a job want to have a sense for their career path with your property or company. These days, most hospitality brands and groups are in an expansion mode; they are building and buying new properties on an ongoing basis. That growth presents excellent opportunities for ambitious young people to move up in the organization. You may not be able to accommodate that growth in your individual property, but chances are, there are positions created, as new properties open their doors.

CASE STUDY: My Marriott Hotel, a game to engage prospects and test job skills

This fun and engaging game not only builds brand awareness, but also associates the brand with positive values and the Marriott culture. It even introduces the Marriott brand to jobseekers who had not considered a job in hospitality.

As we have previously mentioned, the new generations love technology and communicating digitally, so creating an engaging game was a very smart move on the part of the Marriott folks. In the game, players manage a virtual hotel restaurant kitchen, purchase supplies on a budget and lead employees. According to Marriott, the game attracted players from 120 different countries and significantly increased traffic to the company's career site.

Games are enjoyable and appealing, and you don't have to be a deep-pocketed huge brand to create them. With websites like, you can design your own game to attract employees. Visit to learn more.

Use the Current Team to Help You Choose the Right Candidate

Using peer-to-peer and team interviewing really works. Here's why: your current team is much less likely to hire a mistake. They know the job and understand what it takes to do it well; plus, they know your culture and will choose someone who will fit in. And most importantly, when they are part of the hiring process, they have a vested interest in ensuring the success of the new person.

Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Attract Young Candidates

It's no secret that young people find technology very engaging. When we found out about how AI is being tested for use in recruiting, we were fascinated. Using intelligent conversation, Wade and Wendy are artificial intelligence personalities that "grow relationships and facilitate true understanding through chat", thereby engaging with stakeholders to serve their individual needs.

Wade works for jobseekers; acting as a career coach, he opens [jobseekers'] eyes to new professional opportunities. Wendy works for recruiters; she acts as an in-house hiring assistant, understanding the identity of the company and intelligently vetting and delivering candidates who complement the company's mission and culture. Though Wade & Wendy are still in beta-test, you can sign up to learn more at their website

Still Challenged to Find the Talent? Ask for Help.

Presuming you have a good relationship with your employees, asking for their help to find the talent you need is a very good idea. Start with your best people; obviously, you would rather recruit another star, than a "C" or "D" player. People tend to have friends who are like themselves. And be sure to say "thank you" in a tangible way, whether it's money (everybody's first choice) or something else you can offer that has a high perceived value (like time off with pay). When you say "thank you", you are reinforcing the positive behavior that supported your success. When you fail to give a tangible thank you gift, you may find people reluctant to help you the next time.

Try Something New

The definition of insanity is doing the same things that you have always done to attract talent and expecting a different outcome. In this article, we have offered a wide variety of distinctive low- and no-cost ideas you can implement right away to recruit the talent you need today and tomorrow. When you are recruiting, remember that you are not just recruiting for today, but for next month and next year as well. The more time and effort you invest to make the right decision today, the better your long-term outcome will be.

Joyce Gioia is a workforce futurist concentrating on relationship aspects of the future. This arena includes workforce and workplace trends, as well as consumer, education, and business-to-business trends. Ms. Gioia is also CEO of Employer of Choice International, Inc., a distinction earned only by companies whose leadership, culture, and best practices attract, optimize, and hold top talent. Ms. Gioia has co-authored five books that are focused on what employers must do to attract, optimize, and hold onto their best employees. A respected professional speaker and trainer, Ms. Gioia has earned the designations Certified Management Consultant and Certified Speaking Professional. Ms. Gioia can be contacted at 336-210-3548 or Please visit for more information. Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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