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Sun 1 Apr 2007 12:22 PM

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A class in school recruiting

Finding skilled staff is quickly becoming a headache for many hoteliers in the competitive Middle East market, but Jeff Ross has some tips for recruiting, and retaining hospitality graduates.

The Middle East hotel market is booming, but finding hard working, motivated, intelligent, experienced, multi-cultural and multi-lingual personnel is a headache for many hoteliers. Yet the benefits of hiring them are huge: they make the hotel manager's job easier and the guest experience more satisfying. So how can hoteliers find, hire, train and retain such staff? The process can be simplified if hoteliers abide by the following golden rules.

1. Clearly establish the graduate's expectations during the recruitment process.

Be sure that you can deliver on this - and that it meets the needs of your business. For example, is the graduate expected to carry out a normal operational role such as F&B attendant, or is he/she expected to have some supervisory responsibilities? Be clear about this right from the start.

2. Don't overlook available talent.

Some Middle East hospitality employers deliberately snub certain nationalities and genders in the application process. The loss is theirs. There is a huge diversity of talent on the market. Employers need to be more open-minded to ensure they attract the right quality of applicants.

3. Provide a well-defined job description and personnel specifications to the job-seeker.

These should be sent to the applicant during the recruitment process, and should be well thought through and specific to the role. Try to avoid using generic, out of date information.

4. Be honest and open about why you are recruiting a graduate.

Are you looking simply to fill an operational gap, or are you trying to develop an individual into a future manager for your hotel or hotel group?

5. Ensure you have a clear and transparent salary and benefits offer.

The graduate should sign the contract with a full understanding of what he or she shall receive in the pocket - salary, service charge, other benefits, minus taxes. This will avoid surprises on the emplyee's first payday.

6. Ensure the salary is competitive in the market place, and fair for the output you are expecting from him.

You'll give the industry a bad name if you are treating graduate recruitment as cheap labour - so don't. Cheap is short-term thinking; value for money is long-term thinking, and long-term is the key to success.


Make sure the graduate receives a quality induction on their first day.

For example, ensure that the graduate receives in advance a structure of what the induction day will comprise, and is clear on the timings, dress code and preparation required on their part. If the graduate on their first day is working immediately in their contracted department - which is not advisable - then ensure that this first day is similarly structured. Do not abandon any employee on their first day, leaving them with insufficient training or guidance.

8. Ensure that the first day and preferably the first week is seamless for the graduate.

IMI International Hotel Management Institute deputy principal Heather Robsinson said one of the biggest sources of turnover in graduate placements is from a badly managed first week.

Put in the effort and you will reap the rewards.

Graduates and undergraduates typically have a high achievement drive, but they do require more maintenance during recruitment and in the early days of employment. If you don't make the effort, you'll get what's coming - high employee turnover and wasted time and money. If the recruitment process is managed well, your hotel will bristle with motivated, highly productive young staff that will make your job easier and the guest experience more memorable.

Jeff Ross, managing director Hospitality Graduate Recruitment. Contact:


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