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The ultimate career guide to working in hospitality (2022)

The ultimate career guide to working in hospitality (2022)

Considering a career in hospitality? Well, you’re in luck. Hospitality is a booming industry that offers a little something for everyone. In fact, hospitality and tourism employs around 8% of the UK. And although the industry came to a halt during the pandemic, it’s well on its way to recovery. Phew!

So in today’s guide, we’re sharing the ins and outs of this popular industry. We want to help you decide if it’s right for you. And if so, leave it to us to tell you exactly how to find a job in hospitality.

What is the hospitality industry?

The Hospitality industry includes sectors like food and drink, events and catering. Hospitality exists to create a welcoming and unforgettable experience for guests, customers and visitors.

Hospitality sectors:

  • Food and drinks
  • Events
  • Accommodation
  • Travel and tourism
  • Recreation

Food and drinks

Food and drinks is the biggest sector in hospitality. It comes in different shapes and sizes. This ranges from fine dining to good old fashioned pub grub. Standard food restaurants generally provide more job vacancies, and require less skill. Whereas the more upmarket restaurants will have fewer opportunities. But they look for more skill, experience and qualifications (and they tend to pay more too!).

Events

Events is a popular choice for many people wanting to work in hospitality. That’s mainly because it offers a lot of variety. Most companies will host some sort of event at one point or another. Some companies have an entire in-house team dedicated to events. Events range from concerts, conferences, weddings, exhibitions, charity events and more.

Accommodation

What would hospitality be without accommodation? Accommodation plays a huge role in the hospitality industry. It caters to families, backpackers and businesspeople. Essentially, anyone who needs a place to sleep! Accommodation comes in the form of hotels, hostels, campsites, and airbnb’s.

Travel and tourism

Travel and tourism is part of the hospitality industry. It’s where companies make money by encouraging people to visit new places or go on holiday. In the UK, summer is the main season for travel and tourism. This is when job opportunities are at their highest.

Recreation

Recreation is any activity people do to kick back, rest, and have a good time. This could be a theme park, cinema, spa or even a theatre. These activities can be seasonal (like theme parks). But there are also plenty of recreational activities that run all year round.

Benefits of working in hospitality

  • It’s a lot of fun. Working in hospitality isn’t like working in an office job. You get to interact with people who want to have a good time.
  • It’s flexible. Most hospitality jobs offer flexible hours and shift patterns. If you prefer to work nights, there are plenty of night shift hospitality jobs available. 
  • Tipping culture. Depending on the type of role you go into, you could have the opportunity to earn a lot of tips! Especially if you work in front-of-house!
  • Fast career progression. You don’t have to wait years before gaining a promotion. If you have the right skills and work ethic, you’ll soon earn yourself a promotion.
  • Lots of training. 70% of hospitality and tourism companies offer training. This means you get to upskill and improve your CV on the job.
  • Plenty of job opportunities. Hospitality jobs aren’t hard to come by. So if you’re not enjoying one, you always have the option to find something better.
  • You have the chance to travel. Hospitality is one of the few industries that can provide travel. You could find a job abroad. Or maybe you’ll land a job that needs you to travel.
  • No experience necessary. You don’t need to gain a qualification to start a career in hospitality. Most employers will hire you without qualifications so long as you show the right qualities.

Disadvantages of working in hospitality

Every job has its downsides. So it’s important to weigh up the pros as well as the cons. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

  • Unsociable hours. Unfortunately, hospitality doesn’t follow regular 9-5 hours. You can sometimes work weekends and late into the night.
  • It’s tiring. In hospitality, you’re usually up on your feet throughout the shift.
  • Dealing with complaints. Hospitality isn’t always a good time. And sometimes you need to deal with customers when they’re not happy.
  • Seasonal work can dry up. Some jobs don’t run all year round (especially in travel and tourism). So you may need to plan your work based on the seasons.
  • High pressure. Busy periods need you to work hard and think on your feet. Be prepared to feel the heat!

11 common hospitality jobs and salaries

Whether you want a junior position or are looking at hospitality management jobs, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from. Take a look at our list of hospitality careers.

Hotels

Porter – £18,579 average salary

Hotel porters manage the luggage of guests. They may need to take luggage up to rooms, or park guest cars. It can be physically demanding but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door of the hospitality industry. 

Key skills

  • Reliable
  • Customer service
  • Strong work ethic
  • Communication skills

Front desk – £21,000 average salary

Hotel front desk workers have varied roles. They’re responsible for taking bookings, answering enquiries and checking guests in. They’re also on hand to resolve any problems the guests may have.

Key skills

  • Communication
  • IT
  • Reliability
  • Customer service

Hotel manager – £27,000 average salary

Hotel managers have a lot of responsibility. They ensure all aspects of the hotel run smoothly. Hotel managers will manage staff rotas, resolve problems, and find the best suppliers for the hotel. They’re also responsible for making sure the hotel is as profitable as possible.

Key skills

  • Organisation
  • Delegation
  • Leadership
  • Business strategy
  • Problem-solving
  • Working under pressure

Events

Event coordinator – £25,000 average salary

As an event coordinator, you bring events to life for promotional, business and social events. This includes funerals, parties, launches, conferences and more. You have a lot of plates spinning as you take care of catering, venues, decor and invitations. It’s your job to pull off the event to a deadline, and within budget!

Key skills

  • Organisation
  • Multi-tasking
  • Negotiation
  • Communication
  • Working under pressure

Event manager £30,133 average salary

An event manager is a step up from a coordinator. As an event manager, you may deal with larger scale events, or manage the entire event operation. You may also manage staff members like coordinators. You may need to be in multiple places at one time – so don’t expect your feet to touch the ground!

  • Delegation
  • Management
  • Organisation
  • Communication
  • Multi-tasking
  • Prioritisation
  • Negotiation

Restaurants

Waiter/waitress – £21,000 average salary

Becoming a waiter/waitress is one of the easiest ways to get started in the hospitality industry. Most venues will hire you even if you don’t have experience, so long as you have the right qualities. As a waiter/waitress, you could be working in a restaurant, pub, hotel or at events.

Key skills

  • Communication
  • Customer service
  • Food hygiene
  • Numeracy
  • Working under pressure

Restaurant manager – £27,000 average salary

A restaurant manager oversees the day to day running of the restaurant. This is a varied role. It involves things like monitoring stock and budget control. You may also need to find suppliers, create menus and manage staff.

  • Organisation
  • Delegation
  • Working under pressure
  • Strategic thinking
  • Leadership

Chef – £25,979 average salary

To become a successful chef, you need to have a passion for food. It’s a high-pressure job so you need to be able to keep your cool and the temperature rises.

  • Following instructions
  • Working under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • Food hygiene
  • Health and safety

Chef de partie – £26,653 average salary

Once you’ve earned your stripes as a chef, you can progress into a chef de partie position. This means you’ll be responsible for handling a particular section of the chef’s kitchen. You may also manage a small team of your own. You’ll usually report to a senior chef, like the sous-chef.

  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Attention to detail
  • Working under pressure

Sous-chef – £27,000 average salary

A sous-chef is one step away from a head chef. Sous-chefs are the second-in-command to the head chef. You help the head chef design menus and dishes. And you also help in supervising other kitchen staff members and making sure standards stay high.

  • Organisation
  • Efficiency
  • Working under pressure
  • Food hygiene
  • Health and safety
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication

Head chef – £34,697 average salary

Becoming a head chef is the pinnacle for many chefs. If you work in a high-end restaurant (like a Michelin star), you have the opportunity to earn a high salary. Head chefs have the ultimate responsibility for the menu and food service. This includes managing the catering team! You also need to communicate clearly while maintaining your cool during service.

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Attention to detail
  • Food hygiene
  • Health and safety
  • Formal culinary training / qualifications

Top skills to include on your CV

There are certain skills that hospitality employers love. We suggest including a handful of these skills in your CV to bag an interview:

Customer service – this skill is a no brainer for your hospitality CV. Since you’re dealing with the public, customer service is a must.

Communication – to be successful in hospitality, you need to be a good communicator and know how to build rapport.

Working under pressure – the hospitality industry can be busy. So you need to prove you can keep calm when the pressure rises.

Dealing with unhappy customers – complaints are a natural part of hospitality. Hirers want to know you’re skilled enough to handle tough situations.

Teamwork – hospitality jobs usually involve a lot of teamwork. It’s important to show you’re experienced in working as part of a team.

Reliability – the hospitality industry can’t thrive without reliable staff. Can hirers depend on you to be on time and work hard? 

Problem-solving – problems arise all the time in hospitality. So can you show employers you have the initiative to solve them on the spot?

Numeracy – depending on the role, you may need to do a little maths. This is especially true for restaurant jobs or jobs that deal with cash.

Important CV tips

Give examples

Don’t just list skills in your CV – make sure you back them up with examples. For example, if you work well under pressure, explain how. What situations have you worked under pressure? Maybe you served in a busy restaurant with over 200 customers. Or perhaps you’ve worked to tight deadlines. These are all great examples that make your CV more powerful.

Include a personal statement

Employers LOVE to read your personal statements. This should be 2-4 sentences at the top of your CV that describe who you are, your experience, and what you’re looking for

Here’s an example of a personal statement for a job as a waiter:

“I’m an outgoing person with 2 years’ experience working in customer-facing roles. I enjoy working in fast-paced roles creating unforgettable experiences for people. I’m seeking a full-time position in a busy restaurant. Available immediately.”

Use bullet points

Your CV experience should only use 2-4 bullet points per job. Don’t use paragraphs to describe your jobs. Large chunks of text are off putting for hiring managers. If you do this, your CV will probably end up in the bin. Always keep it short, bullet pointed and easy to read!

Attach a cover letter

Cover letters are a great way to get noticed. They give you the chance to tell the employer more about yourself. It’s not always possible to fit everything into your CV. So you can add more details to your cover letter.

How to prepare for your interview

When’s the best time to start preparing for an interview in the hospitality industry? As soon as you decide to start a career in it! Don’t wait until you get invited to an interview before you start preparations. Start early so you’ll be ready if you’re invited into an interview at short-notice.

Look presentable

In the world of hospitality, your appearance is important. You’ll need to look presentable when you turn up for work. So be sure to wear your best interview outfit.

Prepare interview answers

Make sure you always prepare your interview answers before going for a hospitality interview. Don’t worry about memorising a script. Just have a good idea of what you’d like to say when answering the most common interview questions.

Use examples

When preparing your interview answers, think of as many examples as possible. Examples are the best way of validating your experience. Don’t just tell employers you work well under pressure. Instead, tell them all about a time where you had to work under pressure and what you did to overcome the problem.

Use the STAR interview method

The STAR interview method is a great way to answer interview questions. It gives you a structure to your answers so you don’t miss the point of the question. 

Situation – describe the situation at the time. Where were you working? What was your role?

Task – talk about the problem or target you needed to hit. What was particularly challenging about the task?

Action – explain what steps you took to resolve the issue. 

Result – finally, tell the interviewer about the outcome. What did you achieve? Can you use any figures (like sales targets or timelines) to help put things into context?

Build rapport

Building rapport with customers is a huge part of hospitality. So be sure to build rapport with your interviewer. You can do this by making small talk about the weather or complimenting them in some way. It’s always good if you can use a light bit of humour too!

9 common hospitality interview questions WITH answers

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How do you work under pressure?
  • Tell me about a time where you gave excellent customer service
  • How would you deal with an unhappy customer?
  • Why do you want to work in hospitality?
  • How do you feel about working late?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  • Describe a time where you worked as part of a team
  • What are your weaknesses?

1. Why do you want to work for us?

This is a common interview question in the hospitality industry. There’s a lot of competition between companies. So interviewers want to know if you really want to work for them specifically. In your answer, compare this company with one of their competitors to show you’ve done your research. Talk about specific details related to the company. This will show the interviewer you actually want to work for them.

Ideas to mention in your answer:

  • The company reputation / awards
  • The size of the company
  • The services / menu
  • The training
  • The company values / ethos
  • A testimonial you’ve heard from a friend who works there

Example answer

“Having been a customer in your restaurant several times, I’ve always found the customer service to be really strong. So I know you train your staff well and work to a high standard. I’m also not surprised you won Restaurant of the Year in 2021. I’ve done some research into one of your main competitors, Burger Joint. But I feel their branding doesn’t bring as much personality and warmth as your company. So overall, I just feel you take a lot more pride in your work and presentation compared to a lot of your competitors. And that’s why I’d love to work for yourselves.”

2. How do you work under pressure?

Many hospitality roles come with large amounts of pressure. That’s because you’re mostly interacting with the public. And often, hospitality can get very busy. So you need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you can keep your cool in high pressure situations.

Example answer

“My last job as a call centre associate was high pressure. We would constantly have customers in the queue. And we had to make sure all queries were dealt with in under 10 minutes whilst hitting our sales targets. But the last thing I wanted was for the customer to feel my pressure. The most important thing was to stay focused and remain calm.”

3. Tell me about a time where you gave excellent customer service

Customer service is a MUST in hospitality. This question (or something similar) will absolutely make an appearance in your interview. Think of a time where you went above and beyond for a customer.

Example answer

“I used to work as a sales assistant in a kids’ clothing shop. One day, a man came in asking me to help him find an outfit for his toddler. So I asked him a few questions to understand his needs like, ‘was it for a particular event?’, and ‘does it need to be practical?’. I then picked out two outfit options so he had a choice. He ended up buying both outfits and also told my supervisor how helpful I’d been!”

4. How would you deal with an unhappy customer?

Complaints are a standard part of hospitality. So it’s important you know how to deal with them properly. These are the most important points to cover in your interview answer:

  • Step 1: listening to the customer and making sure they feel heard.
  • Step 2: remaining calm. Customers can get upset and angry. But you must never lose your cool.
  • Step 3: correcting the situation. Talk about how you resolved the issue and transformed the customer’s experience.

Example answer

“When I was working as a waitress, a customer complained about the food and said they didn’t want to pay the bill. The customer was pretty angry. But I made sure to listen patiently and show I understood her point of view. I apologised that the food wasn’t up to standard and explained how important quality is to us. As a result, we didn’t charge her for her meal and we offered her a free replacement, as well as a free drink for the whole table. I also engaged in small talk and built rapport with her. By the end of the meal, she thanked me for my service and said she’d be back again”.

5. Why do you want to work in hospitality?

When answering this question, make sure you bring BAGS of passion. You need to show the interviewer you genuinely want to work in the industry. Talk about your love for customer service and fast-paced environments.

Example answer

“Firstly, I absolutely love working with people. I enjoy creating unforgettable experiences and hospitality is the perfect place to do that. I also like to be up on my feet in a busy environment. I don’t want to sit behind a desk for my entire shift. I like to be in vibrant, busy atmospheres and hospitality is the perfect place for this.”

6. How do you feel about working late?

One of the downsides to working in hospitality is that you may have to work late. Sometimes problems arise that need resolving. So you can’t go home until it’s fixed. Or sometimes customers don’t leave the venue until late. Again, you need to be prepared to work late until the job gets done.

Example answer

“I understand working late and weekend work is a standard part of the hospitality industry. I’m not the type of person who will expect to clock out when there’s still work to be done. I stay as late as necessary with my team to ensure the job gets done. This is just a part of hospitality.”

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

When answering this question, it’s important to show the hiring manager that you’re in hospitality for the long-run. Talk about wanting to progress in your role and develop your skills. Be honest about where you’re headed, but don’t run before you can walk. Acknowledge that you need to develop your base skills before progressing.

Example answer

“I’m very ambitious and keen to develop myself. So I would hope to be in a more senior position in 5 years time. Perhaps working in some form of management role. I know you have a fantastic career progression structure so that’s great. But I also appreciate that I’m new to the industry and have a lot to learn. So the main thing for now is to build a solid foundation and learn as much as I can.”

8. Describe a time where you worked as part of a team.

In hospitality, you’ll always need to work as part of a team. So it’s important to show you’re a team player. Talk about any roles where you’ve worked as part of a team. If you’ve not had a job before, you can talk about any teamwork you’ve done in sports teams or in group projects at college/university.

Example answer

“Teamwork was a huge part of my university experience. We had many group projects where we had to work with different people. For example, in my final year project I had to work as part of a team of 6 to create a play. It was important to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And also to offer support to each other where possible. I really enjoyed this experience because everyone brought something unique to the table. In the end, we achieved top marks for our play – it was a huge success!”.

9. What are your weaknesses?

Most people get scared when they hear this interview question. That’s because they don’t want their weaknesses to ruin their chances of getting the job. But there’s no need to be afraid! The interviewer knows you have weaknesses – everyone does! The important thing is that you have enough self awareness to admit you have weaknesses. And they also want to hear what you do to rectify your weak points.

Example answer

“One of my biggest weaknesses has been forgetfulness. When I worked as an admin assistant, I kept forgetting to do small tasks because I was so busy. Thankfully, I realised this about myself. And I learnt to write everything down in the form of checklists. I’ll updaet my list 3 times a day (morning, midday and end of day). Using lists has completely transformed the way I work.”

Questions to ask the interviewer

Always prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview!

  • What training is provided?
  • What career progression opportunities are there?
  • What’s the most challenging part of the role?
  • What do you love about the company?
  • What benefits do you offer?
  • What are the next steps?

What training is provided?

By asking about training, you’re showing you have a keen interest in the role and developing your skills. Every hiring manager will be happy to hear this question!

What career progression opportunities are there?

Employers love to hire people who want a long-term career opportunity. They don’t want to spend time training employees who end up leaving after 6 months. So by asking this question, you’re showing the hiring manager you want to stay and progress within the company.

What’s the most challenging part of the role?

Every job has its challenges. And it’s important not to overlook these points. This question will help you paint a realistic picture of the role. If you really don’t like the sound of the challenges, this may not be the job for you! But this is better to find out during the interview rather than on the job.

What do you love about the company?

This question gives the interviewer the opportunity to rave about the company and tell you about their personal experience. If the interviewer answers with enthusiasm, you’re onto a winner. But if they’re reluctant to answer, this could be a red flag.

What benefits do you offer?

Let this be the least important question you ask. It’s good to know what the benefits are. But you don’t want to seem like you’re only going for the job because of the benefits. So leave this question as one of the last ones you ask.

What are the next steps?

Always make sure you’re clear on what the next steps are. You want to know how long it will take until you hear back from the hiring manager and how they’ll contact you. Or perhaps you can ask how many other interviews they have to carry out. 

How to find a job in hospitality

It’s important to try different techniques to find the right job in hospitality. Here are 4 ways you can find a hospitality job:

Drop off your CV

Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. If you know of local companies in the hospitality industry, you can always go there in person. This is a great way to introduce yourself and stand out from the crowd. Just be sure to look presentable and take a copy of your CV. 

Apply direct

Got a few companies in mind that you’d like to work for? Go directly to their website to check out what vacancies they have.

Use job boards

Using job boards is the most common way of applying for jobs in the hospitality industry. Just upload your CV and set alerts so you get notified when new jobs become available.

Apply from your phone on SonicJobs

Applying from your phone with the SonicJobs app is one of the quickest ways to find a job in hospitality. SonicJobs has the UK’s largest database of jobs – and you can apply for all our jobs with just one tap of a button.

Endless opportunities

Hospitality is a vibrant industry and is the land of opportunity. You pick up many transferable skills that can be used across many roles. So if you’re an outgoing person with a passion for creating amazing experiences, you could thrive in this industry. The best part is you don’t need experience to get started. And it won’t be long before you earn your first promotion. As long as you work hard, you could find yourself in a hospitality management role in no time!

Download the SonicJobs app today to start your career in hospitality!

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