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The Top 3 Hard and Soft Skills That Hospitality Employers Want
Hcareers / NOVEMBER 22 2021

What skills are you bringing to the table?

And are they the skills that will get you the hospitality job of your dreams?

While each position will have its own list of requirements, there are some common requirements that we see on job postings again and again. Here are the top hard skills and soft skills that you’ll need to catch the eye of hospitality hiring managers.

But First: What Are Hard Skills And Soft Skills?

Your hard skills are the technical know-how you bring to the job. Think inventory management, cooking ability, or marketing expertise. These are usually skills that you can be trained for, either on the job or in school. 

Soft skills are a bit harder to pin down. They include traits that we often think of as being inherent in one’s personality, like teamwork or communication ability. Fortunately, we can work to improve our soft skills just like we can train in hard skills. So if you’re missing any of the abilities on this list, don’t worry. You can always improve!

The Top 3 Hard Skills Hospitality Employers Want

It’s difficult to get into the specifics of hard skills for hospitality jobs since they vary from position to position. A cook, a hotel front desk agent, and a catering manager will all need wildly different hard skills.

That being said, there are some general aptitudes that the industry demands, no matter the position. Cite your certifications, education, or experience on your resume to prove that you have the necessary know-how.

1. Computer Proficiency

It doesn’t matter if you’re running the host stand of a small café or managing the finances for a  major hotel brand. Your job is going to require some computer time. It may be a desktop, or it may be the POS or reservation system in a restaurant or hotel. 

Regardless, hospitality employers have to trust you to learn how the system works and do some basic troubleshooting when you hit a snag. 

2. Compliance or Legal Knowledge

Clearly, not all hospitality employees are expected to be legal experts. But most positions in the industry do require some level of compliance knowledge. 

For a bartender, that includes how to identify a valid ID, the number of drinks you can legally serve at a time, and the laws around to-go beverages. For a restaurant or hotel manager, it could include ADA accessibility rules, confidentiality requirements for customer information, and code compliance.

When employees are ignorant of these rules, they can land the company in hot water with local, state, or federal regulatory boards. So employers often require certain baseline knowledge as a condition of hiring.

3. Cleanliness and Sanitation

Whether you’re in a restaurant, hotel, resort, cruise ship, event venue, food truck, catering company, or any other hospitality business, cleanliness and sanitation are absolute requirements—especially in a post-COVID world. 

Chefs and kitchen managers must keep their cooking environments clean and prevent cross-contamination. Hotels and resort staff must know proper disinfection procedures for bathrooms, bed sheets, and all hard surfaces. Catering companies and event venue managers must know how to keep hot food at the appropriate temperature to keep it safe while holding. 

The Top Soft Skills Hospitality Employers Want

Soft skills are a bit harder to demonstrate than hard. As you read through this list, try to think of a time when you used each of these soft skills in your previous work. Note those stories down so you will have them at hand in your interview. 

1. Customer Service

Customer service is really a combination of four separate soft skills. 

First, you must practice active listening. As the customer explains the problem, you must show them that you understand and are invested in finding a solution. This can come through paraphrasing their complaint, or reassuring them that you understand and are on their side. 

Next, you must pick up their nonverbal cues. Are they tearing up? Maybe they have other things going on in their lives, and a little kindness from you will go a long way. Do they seem embarrassed? Bringing the customer to a private corner may make them more comfortable and make it easier to reach a solution. 

Then, you have to take what they’ve told you and solve the problem. Coming up with a fix that makes the customer happy without damaging the company’s bottom line can be a tricky proposition! 

Finally, you have to be a great communicator so you can explain exactly how you’re going to solve the problem and prevent it from happening again.

2. Time Management

Hospitality jobs are always somewhat reactionary. We’re taking care of the people that come through our doors, providing what they ask for, and solving problems. When we get overwhelmed, we don’t have the luxury of spreading out the work. The customers are here now and they have to be served now

This is why time management is so important. A great hospitality employee can find efficiencies in even the simplest of tasks, whether they’re waiting tables or implementing a new marketing plan. 

3. A Positive Attitude

In the hospitality industry, we are problem solvers and “make it happen” magicians. Anyone who plans to make hospitality their career has to cultivate an attitude of “How can I make this work?” 

There is no room for negativity and naysayers! Not when customers are counting on you to ensure their happiness and employers are counting on you to provide a great guest experience.

What Are You Missing?

Is there something here you’re lacking? Maybe a certification course or some reading can help you bridge the gap. Or maybe there’s someone at your current job who excels in one of these skills. Watch them in action and ask them for some pointers!