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How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market
Deb Ward / FEBRUARY 01 2021

Having a good education just isn’t enough in today’s job market. You also need to show you have the right mix of experience and soft skills.  You should also be developing your own personal “brand.” In this article, you’ll find a variety of different strategies that can go a long way toward finding the right job and securing that all-important interview.

If this is your first job out of school, consider getting some relevant work experience. That may mean doing some volunteer work, accepting an internship at a hotel, or taking an entry-level role in a department you may not want to work in long-term, but will give you a foot in the door and some real-world experience.

Having a degree can increase your earning potential, but consider getting a specific certification that will enhance your resume. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has a full listing of hospitality certifications

Don’t forget to network, both virtually and in-person. In a competitive job market, it can play a big role in finding the right opportunity. Stay in touch with colleagues, mentors, and industry leaders and reach out to new contacts via introductions, LinkedIn profiles, and industry news.

Language skills are impressive and having a second language shows you’re interested in the rest of the world and are committed to self-improvement. This goes hand-in-hand with gaining some cross-cultural experience. Whether you’ve worked abroad or simply learned a lot about another culture, it makes you more adaptable and creative and helps you grow as a person. The hospitality industry highly values this ability since guests come from all over the world and appreciate those who understand their culture and norms.

Make sure you customize your resume for every job you apply for. Your resume lists your qualifications, but should also highlight your soft skills and accomplishments backed up with facts. Every time you apply for a new job, make sure you carefully read the job description and use some of the keywords in your resume. In today’s market, resumes are no longer being read by human beings, but are scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Insider tip: Send your resume as a WORD document and not as a .pdf. ATS scanners are notorious for having issues reading and processing .pdf documents.

Build a professional LinkedIn Profile. Regularly update your profile on Twitter and LinkedIn, updating them with a professional headshot and making sure you have included your work history, skills, certifications, organizations, and education. Share the latest industry news as well as any recent projects and accomplishments. Employers almost always do a digital name search on candidates before calling you in for an interview.  Keep it professional!

Join some professional associations. You’ll not only meet others with whom to network, but you’ll demonstrate a commitment to your career development. It will also give you access to the latest information and trends in the industry and likely be a good source of new job openings.

Target the right companies. Especially for higher-level management, the job search is more than just a numbers game. Companies want to find the right fit… it’s a big investment. Network within your chosen sector and grow your network with virtual coffee dates. Check out conferences and use LinkedIn’s messaging features to strike up connections with relevant contacts.

Use job boards, like Hcareers, to find hospitality opportunities. Regardless of where you are in your career, it’s a convenient way to find jobs and apply for them online. 

Remember, your focus should always be on how you can meet the employer’s needs, not yours. Tailor your approach to what the company is looking for and how you can contribute to solving a problem or increasing revenue. Make a strong impression by showing your best qualities and accomplishments and make it easy for the hiring manager to see how you fit into their culture and that you understand what they need.

The bottom line: Zero-in on your expertise and take a strategic approach to your job search. Standing out is going to be more critical, and maybe more difficult, than ever post-pandemic. You don’t want to just make a good impression; you need to make a lasting impression. These tips should ensure that you represent yourself as a candidate that companies need to hire.