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Hospitality students still symbolize the bullseye on hotels’ dartboards at college recruiting events while business fields continue growing more desirable to hoteliers on campuses, the result of better communication of how a hotel career transgresses a post at the front desk.
The past few years saw finance, information technology (IT) and other business disciplines cross hotels’ radars more so than before the recession, as students who weren’t considering hospitality business careers saw opportunities in the sector, say recruiting departments at Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham.
“In prior years, we would spend a lot of time explaining to a finance or IT major that hospitality has career opportunities beyond the hotel front desk,” said Patricia Lee, a spokesperson for Wyndham’s human resources department. “Today, regardless of if we are at a school with a hospitality program or not, more students already view hospitality as an industry where they can build a career.”
“We partner with all types of colleges and universities, particularly schools with strong programs in areas like finance and technology where our business is always looking for great new talent.”
Hotels’ dogma of employees working their way up from front desks to managerial staff hasn’t subsided at recruiting events because of interest from business students expecting big pay days, instead some recruiting teams say they’ve changed how they convey this theme to their college audiences.
Hilton moved away from the one-way communication approach of conventional career fair presentations in favor of ongoing dialogue between campuses and hotels as the company seeks to attract the new ideas and energy of young people, says Rodney Moses, vice president of recruitment for Hilton. Seeing other fields as competition while recruiting also isn’t as troubling to some brands like Hyatt.
“[Hyatt] is not competing with other industries for talent and we’re getting bright and diverse students into entry level management positions who have studied and experienced our industry specifically and want a career in hospitality,” said Doug Patrick, senior vice president of human resources at Hyatt.
Hiring is a top priority at these recruiting events and time isn’t wasted bringing new talent in the door. Lee said Wyndham’s hires 50% of its interns as full time staff.
“When it comes to a college audience, we view them as not only potential hires, but also current and future customers,” said Lee.
Hyatt hires between 125 to 150 students on average per year from US colleges and universities and makes more than 50 campus visits per year in addition to international student recruiting and hiring, said Patrick.
“Our Hyatt college recruiters in the US are joined by associates who don’t work in human resources,” said Patrick. “We find that our associates are our best recruiters because they can provide a first-hand description of life at Hyatt. We also find that our associates’ expectations of qualified candidates nearly always exceed those of our recruiters.”
As a hospitality talent gap promises to threaten the GDPs of the U.S. and other countries, forewarnings already hint at the selective nature of hotel hiring during the next decade with hotels meeting difficulty finding enough qualified and educated employees. Hyatt, for example, received more than 490,000 job applications in North America in 2013 for 16,500 positions.