For those in the hospitality industry, it feels like a lifetime; it’s hard to believe that nearly 12 months ago the government told us to stop visiting pubs and restaurants. It goes without saying that it’s been a treacherous year but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Boris has announced a tangible roadmap that the nation is working towards with an optimistic determination. Most hospitality businesses are gearing up to open mid-April if facilities allow, or mid-May, this will mean that many of you will be returning to work or maybe you are taking this opportunity to find a new challenge. This backdrop neatly dovetails with the final part of our employability series – in February’s issue we covered writing a perfect CV, in March we talked about how to nail an interview. This month we will discuss some points to consider when looking for a new role, how to find a job that matches your ambition, and a business that will unlock your full potential. 

It might be that you have been made redundant from your last role or have made the decision to push reset and look for a new job – either way, approaching the job market can be daunting at the best of times. The situation we find ourselves in currently is completely unique; nearly every business will have at least one vacancy, so it is the perfect time to be looking for your perfect job. Or, it may be that you want to return to your existing employment, but feel that something is missing, hopefully, these tips will give you a few ideas that you could suggest are implemented to make your workplace a better place to be. 

Looking for the perfect job?

Many of you will look on the various boards which advertise jobs or on social media for current vacancies – this is a good start. I would recommend looking on the websites of businesses that you admire and aspire to, even contact them directly. Send your CV and a tailored covering letter telling them what you are looking for and why you want to work there. As I mentioned, we find ourselves in the most unique time, where almost all businesses are looking to take on staff, this proactive approach will pay dividends. 

I recommend (of course I do!) registering with a reputable hospitality recruitment company. Here at Tonic, for example, the first questions we ask candidates of any level is “What are they looking for, what are their key drivers and where do they want to be in 10 years’ time” this allows us to ‘start with the end in sight’ and give them employment options which fit their ambitions and future plans, rather than try to fit a square peg in a round hole. 

Evaluating a prospective employer

Career development is the single most important factor when evaluating a business which you are looking to work at or your current role. Will you be pushed to be your best there, will there be structured onboarding, on-going training and will your skills be developed over time? These are all questions to ask when you have your first interview, they show you care about your career. Remember an interview is a two-way process, you are evaluating the employer as much as the employer is evaluating you. The initiative announced by the chancellor to incentivise employers to upskill their new hires, by offering £3,000 per new employee who is onboarded as an apprentice is a brilliant one. The national apprenticeship levy means employers pay only 5% of the cost towards the training with the government picking up the remainder. There are a number of suppliers of these schemes in the marketplace – I personally recommend Umbrella Training (https://www.umbrellatraining.co.uk/) for all FOH & BOH hospitality and Catering apprenticeships. If your employer does not currently offer apprenticeships to their employees, introduce them to the scheme – it will reduce their staff turnover and increase employee engagement and motivation – it really is a win-win. 

You must assess the culture of the business to make sure that it matches your values. It is difficult to do this during a video interview, however, you can ask questions that will give you clues to the principals of the hiring manager and the organisation. Asking someone how structured their role is, how they manage their team or how they are currently managed, how much support they get, how involved in strategic decisions they are etc. will give a great indication of how the business is run and if it is for you. The best opportunity you get to evaluate the culture of a business is at a trial shift, this is when you really road test the corporation and see what it is like to work there day-to-day. Speak to the other employees on shift and try to dig deep into how they feel about the business, is it an enjoyable place to work, do the employees feel valued and looked after, are they supported and are they being trained and developed?

Does your prospective employer look after their team? Employee welfare and support is a paramount concern for the industry, it is imperative that we are all working to change the perceived status quo of yesteryear; long hours, poor working conditions and little concern for employee satisfaction. Forward-thinking businesses are making sure their employees have a good work-life balance and a better working environment. Back in 2015 Sat Baines and his wife Amanda made the move to give their staff 3 days off each week, the couple made the decision to open Wednesday to Saturday after consulting industry leaders, their own team and financial advisors. This resulted in a happier, healthier and more motivated team but importantly didn’t affect their profits. Baines also serves a healthy, balanced staff meal to his team on a daily basis. Having some simple breakfast options available – such as cereal and toast will give them a positive start to the day and the fuel to take them through a busy lunch service. Does your future workplace take advantage of the support available to the industry from bodies such as Hospitality Action (HA) who do incredible work helping those in the trade who suffer with their mental health? If they don’t you should suggest that they look into this. HA’s training solution covers the management and awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, this includes not only supporting those living with mental health problems but assisting all managers and employees to incorporate positive practices in their home and working lives, negating or minimising the impact of stress and anxiety on their wellbeing.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a huge area of thought which contributes greatly to how we perceive our employers and can only be touched upon here. The Government describes CSR as: “The business contribution to our sustainable development goals. Essentially it is about how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates – maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides.” The points in this article would feed into an overall CSR policy – training and development and employee welfare, in addition, employers must think about ethical sourcing and sustainability in order to be employers of choice. UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said “Sustainability is arguably the key issue of our time. It will become more important and hospitality needs to lead efforts to promote sustainability yet further.” 

I hope that this article helps those of you who are looking for a new challenge at the moment, also I am optimistic that those of you who are returning to your employers will use some of the points to improve your overall working environment. Remember, it’s all of our responsibility to improve the industry however we can. Good luck with returning to the workplace in these ‘new normal’ times. 


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