Originally featured on Hotel Executive –https://www.hotelexecutive.com/business_review/5708/how-large-hotel-brands-can-overcome-recruiting-challenges

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While it may seem counterintuitive, many of the largest hotel brands suffer the biggest struggles when it comes to recruiting top-tier talent. The strongest candidates often believe that they’ll be able to make a bigger impact, or earn promotions, more quickly at smaller and regional properties. Many candidates also believe that working at a major chain will require them to lose many of their personality traits.

While many of these issues are myths, many chains must overcome a number of concerns, ranging from reputation to upward mobility, in order to attract the types of candidates they desire. Below are four challenges large hotels must overcome, along with tips that can help them be more successful.

Reputation Management

As with most things today, candidates tend to start their search for new opportunity online, often visiting a variety of websites and resources that help them gain an understanding of what working at a property will be like. For large hotels, those with a robust online presence (both owned and consumer generated), it can be difficult to gain any sort of control over what a candidate finds in their search. Sites like Glassdoor can be incredibly valuable for job seekers, but may do a poor job of highlighting the work environment at a particular property, vs what life at the corporate headquarters might be. This can create unrealistic expectations, in terms of salary, benefits, and even overall impression.

Furthermore, candidates who find a number of negative reviews about a property may end up having second thoughts about applying. Sites like RipOffReport have gained tremendous traffic; a strong candidate that searches for a hotel and finds complaints there may be less inclined to apply.

In the interview process, many of these issues can be overcome. Perhaps the guest who complained on a forum really was in the wrong. Or maybe there has been a change in management. Interviewers should keep a running cheat sheet of talking points to address anything negative a candidate may find online, either about the property specifically or the overall corporate reputation. For concerns about an individual property, the local manager will have a good idea of what’s happened and how it has been addressed. They may also have insight that isn’t public; perhaps the property won some sort of internal recognition for customer service or top billing in a region. This information can be used to quickly ease concerns for a candidate. On the corporate side, however, it may be tough for a local manager to be aware of all that’s happening. In this instance, he or she can incorporate various corporate social responsibility initiatives that highlight the organization as a good corporate citizen. They can also consider any awards that the corporate brands have won.

Getting strong candidates to the interview process, however, can be a bit trickier. Every major chain has their own approach to dealing with reputational concerns. Some have chosen to address all issues, some have guidelines on what they will or won’t address. In the instance where a local property has been singled out, it’s important for the local team to have an understanding of what happened but also how it’s being addressed. In fact, it’s a best practice for major chains to connect with property managers when negative feedback has been posted online. This gives the team handling social media and online feedback both sides of the story.

Online feedback is becoming more prevalent. A recent study by TrustYou found that a majority of guests have left feedback about their stay, more than 90% of which is positive. Overcoming the lesser common negative feedback can be difficult, but is achievable. For large chains, the best way to show guests, and prospective employees, that you value their feedback is to respond to it.

There are a number of tools available that allow hotel leaders to perform a sort of online audit, to gain an understanding of what a property or brand reputation looks like online. It’s important to continually stay aware of what is being posted, and the new sites that pop up regularly to solicit feedback.

Corporate Overlords

For many of the larger hotel brands, it’s possible that centralized operations can help on the overall online reputation management side, but also be a hindrance on the offline and localized components of the candidate experience. This issue can become prevalent in a number of ways, from recruitment ads placed in places that won’t be seen by quality candidates to “corporate speak” taking over an ad and losing the local flavor and dialect. Oftentimes, this is because the corporate marketing and recruiting team are in charge of budgets, but it can also be a lack of communication between the well-intentioned team at headquarters and the team on the front lines actually doing the hiring.

To be clear, it isn’t always bad when a corporate headhunter is the first point of contact, or in charge of the situation. It can actually be helpful for certain types of candidates to feel as though there is a more structured approach to the hiring process, as this leads to a belief on a more structured environment in the property. It’s a fine line to balance, but one that can easily cause the type of cognitive dissonance that makes strong prospective employees turn down offers to continue their search.

Communication and transparency are critical to overcoming these issues. Corporate teams must be willing to cede some control over messaging and ad placement to the “feet on the street.” This isn’t always an easy ask, as many folks in corporate culture are protective about their role and responsibilities

A World of Opportunity

There is a common misperception about major chains having to do with lack of upward mobility. Many candidates believe that the opportunity for growth is significantly limited at large chains.This can be for a number of reasons. Major chains are often in the news because of layoffs or missed earnings projections. It’s sad to say, but TV news is far more likely to report on bad news than something neutral like a hotel chain that fell within their expected income.

More often than not, the major chains can offer more opportunity to employees than their smaller counterparts.Major chains that have implemented global property management systems are typically more likely to promote from within, knowing that the learning curve for a new hire will be steeper than for someone who already understands how a system works. In addition, larger chains are typically able to offer stronger benefits packages, stock options, transfer and relocation options and more.

For recruiters, it’s important to highlight all of the benefits of working at a hotel on the company’s career site, as well as any other places candidates may learn about a property. This can mean spotlighting initiatives on LinkedIn, or working with PR teams to get articles written about good works done on a corporate, or local level. It might mean clarifying misinformation on Glassdoor or other job rating sites. It can also mean sharing origin stories of executives who’ve grown with the company. Offering candidates a line of sight into growth opportunities can sway them into considering applying to actually sending in a resume.

A Presidential Issue

Regardless of your political affiliation, the Trump presidency has had wide reaching impact on the reputation of the hotel industry. This can be positive or negative, but is something hotel leaders should consider. Trump isn’t the first hotelier to gain fame and notoriety, remember that Paris and Nikki Hilton also come from hotel backgrounds.

In addressing this, it’s important for major chains to separate themselves from hype, and present candidates with a real view of what a role entails, as opposed to jumping off their fame and perhaps unrealistic expectations that can come with celebrity.

At the end of the day, it’s important for leadership at individual properties in a major brand and the team at the corporate headquarters to be aligned throughout the hiring process. There are a number of software products that can help facilitate, and even automate, parts of the recruiting and hiring process. The use of external recruiters for major roles at local or regional properties is also strongly encouraged, as the collaboration required can be easily moved along through the use of a third party.

Major brands of hotels can offer candidates unique opportunities that go beyond the scope of a smaller property or chain. From benefits to growth opportunities, large chains should have an inside track on recruiting quality candidates. However, due to a number of perceptions in the market, some valid and some not, the largest chains can struggle to bring in the top prospective clients. Many of the challenges can, however, be overcome, through communication, transparency and reputation management.

Originally featured on Hotel Executive – https://www.hotelexecutive.com/business_review/5708/how-large-hotel-brands-can-overcome-recruiting-challenges

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