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Don't Get Stuck in the Middle: 7 Tips to Stand Out for Mid-Level Management Jobs from a Hotel HR Pro

Danielle Clark Cole, hospitality HR expert
Danielle Clark Cole, hospitality HR expert

While the desperate search for entry-level talent in hospitality is grabbing all the headlines, it is still very competitive to snag mid-level management jobs. Not only are mid-level management positions slower to come back, but there are just fewer of them overall. To help you with your search, we spoke with Danielle Clark Cole, who’s been an HR lead for Marriott and the Grand Wailea in Maui, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. She’s hired thousands of hotel employees at all levels.

Danielle is now Director of Human Resources for the Trillium Brewing Company in Boston, as well as a consultant with the Hospitality Leadership Academy, and her first tip is that if you need a job, definitely go for quantity over quality, “At the mid-management level it is a numbers game at the moment, so the more you apply the better.” But she counters that with ways to be strategic and improve your success rate with each application. Here are Danielle’s top tips, using her years of experience having viewed countless resumes and interviewed thousands of candidates.

  1. Don’t waste time with a cover letter. Everybody is using some kind of ATS (Applicant Tracking System) so it is just less important, most don’t even get read. If you do have a cover letter customize it to the job and the company, and convey some passion for the brand (i.e. you’ve been a customer at the hotel and why you love it). Be specific with a personal connection so your letter is memorable. It actually annoys me when people put a standard letter on, it is a waste of my time.

  2. Use or make a connection. You would be amazed at the sheer volume of resumes that come in for management-level jobs using the ATS, literally hundreds for each post. I have seconds to weed through each candidate using data extrapolated from the ATS in a spreadsheet. If you know someone, even remotely, just ask them to submit the resume for you. If you don’t know someone at the company, find a contact and reach out on LinkedIn, at a minimum use the company generic email. I will always take the time to reply to a resume by email because it shows the candidate put in some extra effort.

  3. Make sure your job titles are consistent with industry standards. I know some brands, like W for example, call housekeeping managers “styling managers” if you are applying within the brand this is fine, otherwise you need to change it on your resume so that the ATS doesn’t discount you. Quirky names are fun and on-brand, but not when you are applying outside.

  4. Put some type of metrics in your resume. When I look at your resume I want to know what you were successful at? Did you decrease costs, win awards or improve customer service scores? Anything you can do to quantify results is helpful. What I don’t need is a summary of the position, I know that. A good starting point is to look at your annual goals and then write out what you achieved.

  5. Follow-up is very important. Firstly, SEND A THANK YOU NOTE. I notice if I don’t receive one, this is just base-level courtesy. Not sending a note signals immaturity and a lack of professionalism. Secondly, if you don’t get the position, don’t feel bad, there can be a million reasons why. Use this as a networking opportunity to set yourself up for something better down the line. Be thoughtful about how you can work the connection you just made, ask for feedback and suggestions. I had an applicant that followed up with me from a marketing job, when I gave him feedback and said all his examples were from operations, he actually hadn’t realized that he preferred ops. He went on to get an operations job in another company and wrote to thank me for suggesting to shift his search, which was super cool. When I have people that handle the rejection well, I keep them in mind for the next job, or I suggest them to another organization.

  6. Come prepared with stories about yourself. Many organizations do behavioral interviewing, where they ask personal examples of things you have accomplished in your past. Come up with 5 - 10 stories of things you are really proud of in your career. Practice telling the stories, make sure they demonstrate things you want the interviewer to know you are capable of achieving. You really stand out if you have some memorable examples to share, which can be hard to come up with on the spot. If they don’t ask you for examples, be sure to use these at the end of the interview when they offer the chance to “add anything” or if there was “something they didn’t ask.” Good types of stories include: handling stressful situations, going above and beyond for guests, and if you were a manager I want to hear about how you handled employee challenges, anything related to goal setting or time management are also winners!

  7. Research the company’s mission and core values. This should go without saying, but read the “about us” page on the website and make sure your values match with the company where you are interviewing.

Any final thoughts Danielle? "Good luck with your search, you've got this!"


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