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Early Careers – What we learned from industry leaders

21/02/2022 Kieron Bailey Comments Off

We scheduled a four-part webinar series for early careers to understand the industry, how to optimise their CV, prepare for their job interview, where to find a job online, and why to join communities and build your mentor network. Here are the takeaways.

We had the pleasure to co-host these free webinars throughout February with Craig Prentice, founder of talent partner mum. Alongside Craig, Luce Watson, our Marketing Lead and James Lemon, our Founder and CEO, we welcomed talented leaders from the industry, who kindly shared their vision of hospitality and learning based on their experience and backgrounds.

Top CV Tips: Takeaways from our live session on January 27th – 17:00 GMT

In the first episode “Top CV Tips” of our Early Careers series, Craig and special guest Gurjit Sandhu, Group Learning and Development Manager at Maybourne Hotel Group gave students and younger professionals tips to optimise a CV and maximise their chances to get hired in hospitality.

Craig Prentice, Founder of Hospitality Talent Partner mum

“Keep it real. Have a CV that reflects your personality and successes, be relevant to yourself and the industry you want to work in.”

“Your passions are usually what you’ve been starting doing early on in your life. I was already fundraising as a 5 or 6-year-old child – your passions don’t change, they evolve.”

“It’s definitely important for a senior level to have access to a portfolio, especially in creative job positions. It shows your skills and progress within the different projects you’ve been involved with.”

“I’ve never seen people sharing their disability on a CV, so I think it shouldn’t be indicated on your CV as it belongs to the application process.”

“In application processes, I usually struggle going back to people. I think they have to be realistic; planning is key when applying for jobs – treat it like a project, not an obsession.

Gurjit Sandhu, Group Learning and Development Manager at Maybourne Hotel Group

“You hire people in the business, you never know when you need a photographer or a florist, you realise your staff have those skills and suddenly they build their profile within the company. For us, showing these skills set is very important – we want to help people flourish.”

“We rely on people, we have our own recruitment talent team, hands-on, and, unfortunately, we don’t have a log for all those skills but we should build something like that!”

“We received a few video CVs at the Maybourne Hotel Group, and I think it’s quite refreshing! I can see applicants have put lots of effort into it. I think it’s becoming more and more a thing. Anyway, our staff spend time on YouTube and TikTok, and I usually joke with them as they’re on YouTube more than they’re at the bar (laughs)!”

James Lemon, Founder and CEO of Otolo

“I think it’s all about highlighting any side projects and having a self-starter attitude.”

“I prefer traditional CVs versus video CVs. You need a nice and clean CV in Hospitality and a great LinkedIn profile where you showcase your work like blogs, projects that helped charities, etc.”

“I’m not interested in a photo; I don’t know why. I’d rather give a chance to a profile a little more introverted but the person will have the exact skills I’m looking for.”

Luce Watson, Marketing Lead at Otolo

“Showcase your volunteering on your CV, put nice projects or extra skills you learned, for instance, Photoshop editing skills.”

“It’s all about being curious, organised, communicating, wanting to help and support the team you’re about to work with. We’re not expecting to see pages of work, but indeed showing the right attitude is important, and the ability to solve problems.”

“Personally, on a CV I want to see what impact you had in your previous companies or projects. Candidates should always be proud of the work they produced, of their achievements.”

Watch the replay 👇

Best Job Boards and Apps – Takeaways from our live session on February 3rd — 17:00 GMT

In the second episode “Best Job Boards & Apps”, Craig and Naomi Hollas, Founder of Event Grads provided students and younger professionals tips to conduct their job search, and which are the best platforms to source job opportunities.

Craig Prentice, Founder of Hospitality Talent Partner mum

“Don’t obsess with the search, keep track of everything, and spend time connecting with people. Show your individuality, a genuine passion, a desire to connect. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. We’re so obsessed with time, and I think graduates have an amazing opportunity to connect with people in businesses, such as the Otolo community. It’s very exciting. Always be proactive and keep your eyes on job offers because it’s horrible to miss opportunities.”

“Have a spreadsheet, treat your job search like a project. Find out about new openings at your favourite hotel brands. Also, on the flipside of referrals, it’s about connecting with the right recruitment specialist or talent partner: if you’re good at what you do, if you’re a natural fit, good recruiters will make time for you.”

“I think it’s inappropriate to go to an event and open up right away about your job search. Always connect first before mentioning your intentions. Be you, be natural and ask for a card to follow up afterwards!”

“Anyone applying for roles should expect to be acknowledged if it’s one click, but if it’s a relationship, I’d expect to give feedback. Providing feedback for anyone who’s been interviewed doesn’t always happen as things do slip through the net. Candidates should also follow up and ask for feedback.”

Naomi Hollas, Founder of Event Grads

“There are so many titles and roles available out there. Don’t limit yourself when looking for opportunities. You’re not alone. We all came together; we have the same challenges in trying to find a job. There seems to be a lot of jobs but still a disconnect, a lack of confidence at the moment. But it’s exciting to see that roles are coming back in hospitality.”

“One of the things I noticed in the last two jobs: a recruiter found me on LinkedIn and put me in touch with someone else. Always put yourself out there and do that little extra that makes you stand out. At that entry-level stage, you need a bit more to stand out. And remember your spelling and grammar: if you’re going to say Spider-Man is your favourite Marvel character, write it correctly.”

“Make friends. Build relationships. When it comes to recruiters, as a graduate you don’t know how to approach them, how the process works. Always do your research, and don’t waste your time.”

“I remember I was upset I didn’t get feedback from a job I was really hoping to get, it took me a couple of days to get over it. So, I asked them for feedback and received a few paragraphs of very constructive feedback. It helped me so much, it’s the kind of transparency from a recruiter perspective that I needed to learn for the next job interview. I think Gen Z are looking for transparency and honesty, it shows they’ve been valued, especially after the toughest times when we fired so many people.”

James Lemon, Founder and CEO of Otolo

“Put yourself out there. Everyone is hiring at the moment. If you work in restaurants, you almost want candidates to come direct. You know you’re just one of many they could pick. A candidate needs to be nurturing a relationship with a business.”

“When you’re new to an industry, perhaps it’s a little tougher to open the door to a recruiter. Plus, recruiters always create a shortlist, but there’s this one person who ticks all the boxes. Be very careful in tailoring your application. Everyone loves it when they’re flattered but everyone is looking for people right now. If you want to get into marketing, a recruiter should see some examples of that, for instance, that you go to events and blog about it.”

“It’s not rude to ask for feedback after an interview, but consider that the person giving the feedback may be swamped with the other candidates to go back to as well.”

Luce Watson, Marketing Lead at Otolo

“Perseverance stands out. There are groups and communities out there, for instance, if you’re a Chef, use The Staff Canteen or if you specialise in events, use Event Grads. It depends on what you’re looking for. Candidates need to connect with like-minded people and include all the experiences they have to maximise their chances of getting a job interview.”

“Sometimes you can overthink it. Hirers will take transferrable skills, especially now. Always wonder if this aligns or works. You’re not alone. Everyone is very people-focused, so if you are struggling, reach out to someone who works in the company.”

“Dig a little bit deeper and you’ll find more opportunities. You never know how the conversation is gonna go. Get yourself a mentor, it’s very valuable and essentially, create your little bubble, your little network, it’ll help with your job search and your mental health.”

Watch the replay 👇

Interviewing and Culture – Takeaways from our live session on February 10th – 17:00 GMT

In our third session “Interviewing & Culture”, Craig and Trudi Parr, People + Development at Mollie’s, shared their insights into prepping your interview, the questions to ask and not to ask and support to help you get the dream job offer.

Craig Prentice, Founder of Hospitality Talent Partner mum

“There’s a lot of competition out there and a candidate has a choice. Candidates have amazing opportunities to take their time, build a well-informed opinion, and do their research. When I welcome a candidate, I hope he’ll have visited the venue first, to experience it from a guest perspective as you can pick up a lot from the staff.”

“At an interview, I’d expect and ask the candidate for a summary. Unfortunately, lots of people walk recruiters through their entire CV but what I want is to hear from their 5-minute journey. I like to personally get a snapshot of the candidates I’m interviewing.”

“At the end of an interview, don’t ask ‘How did I do?’ but about things like Diversity and Inclusion. If these are really important to the company, ask what initiatives they’re taking behind the scenes. Another thing, if the recruiter asks if you got any questions, don’t say ‘no you answered them all’ – it’s the worst.”

“Best is doing your research, looking at the whole experience from start to finish, be you and if you really want it, show it!”

Trudi Parr, People + Development at Mollie’s

“Everything’s about the prep. Plan your journey, show your interest, have energy (no need to be hyper), be brave to ask these questions that mean a lot to you.”

“As recruiters, we are reviewers, it’s a cultural thing – we review everything. Investigate before knowing where you’re going. Try to understand what the business is. Think about how you want to come across and align to that brand. Ask yourself what are the benefits, is this company culture aligned to your values? Values are so important, they should be brought to life and living through the company. They interact through your team and you want everybody to connect with people, be nice, open. Values work both ways.”

“As a human you want people to do well. If I’ve got your CV in front of me, I want the interview to go well, I’m looking for the right person. I don’t want a candidate to feel stressed about being interviewed. And take a copy of your CV with you for convenience.”

“I’d ask a candidate to walk me through things like… how did you convince that client to use your hotel or your business? I won’t ask a candidate “What’s your weakness” – I hate that question. It’s all about what’s more practical. I’m not a fan either of asking questions like ‘Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?’. It’s better to understand where the applicant sees himself or herself in the role. Plus, how much of that do you want to share at that stage? It’s quite an odd question.”

“I love when candidates ask questions, it shows they are genuinely interested and want to get to the bottom of the business. I like people thinking outside the box and it does help me recruit. Culturally, I’d suggest asking this at the end of an interview: how this company recognises this staff, what do you like about the job, how does the manager set goals? What do you find challenging about the job? etc. And for a summary, keep your mind on what the job is for. You’re here to solve their problems, that’s how you should lead your answer.”

“I’d always do an initial 20-25 minutes phone interview, to gauge the candidate’s interest, personality, and it helps bring you to life in front of a recruiter. Then, conducting a 1-hour screen interview with a candidate helps build a bigger picture, and understand the next steps. It’s very much a communicative approach.”

Luce Watson, Marketing Lead at Otolo

“Culture and values are really important to me, it’s even a top priority. I want to be inspired by the people I’m working with. I usually do a little bit of LinkedIn stalk, and Glassdoor is great for checking company culture and values, interview reviews, etc.”

“Treat an interview as a two-way conversation – we’re all humans after all. It’s not life or death. Be professional. An interview should be an open conversation. It helps determine the fit for you as well. Then the interview becomes naturally easier. When you’re passionate about an industry it helps you be authentic during an interview. I want to interview someone who’s not worried to get stuck in. Would you be happy to clean the toilets (laughs)? The answer will tell you a lot about the candidate.”

“It’s hard to summarise everything you did in your career in 5 minutes, so it has to be relevant to the role. If you had projects you’re really proud of, shout about them.”

“Usually I’d expect for a candidate to walk to an open day and be chatty and open. You have to remember this business is about people. I remember a terrible example from a General Manager who walked in an interview and didn’t even introduce himself. He was even quite rude, it’s all about awareness and respecting people.”

“You’re not gonna tick all the boxes of a job description. But there’s strength in that and you may only need the training to help you improve your skills – it’s all fine. This industry is a lot about attitude and the right dress code. Take a step back, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the job. It’s part of the process.”

James Lemon, Founder and CEO of Otolo

“So many websites feel really generic, especially hotel websites, it’s all about where do you go to get an authentic view of company values.”

“Don’t ask questions like ‘Where are your venues, where are your hotels?’ because the recruiter will have assumed you already know this before the interview.”

“At the end of an interview, give us some really funny stories. We want to hear about it!”

“Confidence is built by prep and research. So do your investigation thoroughly before the interview.”

Watch the replay 👇

Finding your Club & Mentors – Takeaways from our live session on February 17th -17:00 GMT

In this last session “Finding your Club & Mentors”, Craig, Lorraine Copes, Founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality, and Paul Spencer (aka ‘Spence’), Director of Operations at Locke Hotels and edyn group, shared their learnings to understand the benefits of having a mentor and joining communities to help you take ownership of your career development.

Craig Prentice, Founder of Talent Partner mum

“I’ve always craved people’s experience, and after my A-Levels, I started working in toxic environments, learning stuff I didn’t want. Later I found a home of hospitality, where I learned from very good people. I was fortunate to build relationships, and in this industry, it’s all about who you can trust. I’m lucky to have some great people around me and I’m thankful it’s for having met amazing people.”

“The key is to gravitate around people naturally. It should be natural, not forced. I met 3 or 4 mentors in my career, all teaching me naturally and representing my values. I don’t think we should put a label on it. And amid Covid, I started learning again, I’ve been taught some lessons, I met new members.”

“Recruiters have different hats – a whole range of responsibilities and constantly speaking to people, hearing about their experiences, what they’re thinking about. I learned a lot from those people.”

“When your values or what you believe is at the heart of what you do, I think it shows. When you have a purpose, you’re on the right path to success.”

“Join communities. Getting to know people in a natural way, as well as genuineness, have been important to me. Do your research, keep an eye out there. There are companies that are doing amazing things, pushing boundaries, etc. I think people need to gauge what companies will do post-Covid.”

Lorraine Copes MCIPS, Founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality

“I went to university and studied logistics; I joined a venture pub company for my first role. I didn’t enjoy it at all, I thought it’d secure me a stable job, you know, as an immigrant coming from a different country. My journey has all been about the people I learned from. Modern mentorship is all about leaving the ego behind and rapport is everything: you can’t open up with someone who you don’t trust. Many people in the sector have been very supportive, and as a Black woman I had to find my group.”

“Because Be Inclusive Hospitality was incorporated during the lockdown, we created a lot of traction. Lots of progressive individuals and businesses connected. I’d say that your extended network is your network and I created a community that I adore, made of people who want to accelerate change in an industry. I go to industry events and people who are interested often start a conversation more comfortably. Creating a community is all about bringing like-minded peers into an industry.

“Regarding Diversity & Inclusion, there’s a lot to talk about. In finding your community, there’s an element of research you can do independently. To find your mentor, your employer needs to tell you really clearly what you need to achieve your objectives. No business objective moves with a clear vision. I’d advise you to take action instead of speaking, recognize that your journey is your own, create your own path, remember that rapport with everything and if you see someone you don’t share values with, don’t force it.”

Paul Spencer (aka ‘Spence’), Director of Operations at Locke Hotels and edyn

“I found a home in hospitality at age 16, Academia would agree with me. I didn’t settle in school, so at 16 years old, I started to cook, I moved to France where I was an English with no word of French. I’ve been trying to find someone that would guide me. Early on, General Manager Steve introduced me to David. A great mentor allows you to make mistakes without judgement and sees your passion, and I think it was all about finding a friend in the industry that would help me.”

“All of us are mentors and we all have a responsibility in the future of responsibility. As an industry, we pride ourselves on ‘work hard, play hard’. It’s easier to find a culture you can relate to. Who you work for carries more weight. We are still creating a culture of learning: more rewarding, positive, leading with kindness for people to fall in love with the industry. Once you find that culture, you start creating a community around you. It’s like taking the example of that crappy French book not translated into English: hopefully, the industry makes it better for our people!”

“I went from a rebranding to being a General Manager: how was I going to learn, or manage people? Like Craig, I’ve gone through that rebrand. I think you should find who you are as a person. It’s all centred around organic kindness. How articulate and credible we are – don’t make it up. I’ve chosen three jobs that were wrong for me. With a bit of personal brand, stubbornness, career personality, I found my home in hospitality.

“There is a sacrifice to make to work in that industry, that’s why you should be careful in selecting the people you want to work with. You’re gonna get it wrong, and I implore you to get it wrong. My worst mentor is also my best mentor, he’s the reason for the man I am today. He certainly will get referenced in comments like this (laughs). This General Manager didn’t want me to leave but never be afraid to walk away.”

“Ask questions, do something. “Be brave, ask questions, have a conversation! I spend more time getting it wrong than right. The industry is for people, we are in the business to be hospitable, and caring. I’ve been in it 31 years and I still love it today.”

Luce Watson, Head of Marketing Otolo

“You don’t always know where you fit. When I started working in hospitality, I was asking questions and I reached out to like-minded peers in the events space. Early on, no one really guided me. I valued giving back but I didn’t know it was mentoring. I started getting more interested in mentoring so I connected with non-executive directors for mentoring programmes – I was eager to learn these gaps.”

“The industry is very people-driven. Similarly to Spence, I’ve gone into roles that were not right. It took me 6 or 7 years to get comfortable in my career but that’s okay. It took me time to adjust to the workspace, relationships, be a kind leader, help people on their journey, let them know my mistakes.”

“I’ve always been super professional, I didn’t let much of my personality out, but as I got more comfortable with my values, I took ownership of my career development, and I built soft skills.”

“If you’re gonna mess up, take your ego out of it. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.”

Watch the replay 👇