Because hoteliers and military personnel share a culture of service and teamwork, veterans are uniquely positioned for a successful career in hospitality. The leading hotel chains have each developed programs and initiatives to recruit and hire military veterans, a community faced with high unemployment rates. However, a hospitality career may not immediately occur to those fresh out of active military service when considering their next steps.
As part of their recruitment efforts, hotels must communicate how military roles translate to the hospitality space. Matt Welsh, vice president of recruitment at Hilton Worldwide, says that the company works to educate the military community and create pathways to careers. Certainly veterans’ cultural and leadership skills are valued at hotel companies, but so too are technical skills, Welsh says. “We provide visibility into where there are connections so people can see themselves moving into a hospitality role that they wouldn’t think of otherwise,” he explains.
On the other side of the coin, employers and hiring managers must be able to read a military resume to understand a veteran’s application and how certain skills transfer to the job position. “We had to educate our hotel population about military lingo and how to ask the right questions,” Welsh explains.
Most hotel organizations also recognize the need to serve military families beyond providing job opportunities to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Military spouses face a unique set of challenges when it comes to securing employment. Because spouses move frequently as their partners’ assignments change, their resumes often show absences in work history and shifts in their career that potential employers may unwittingly view as red flags.
John Bradley, director of talent acquisition at G6 Hospitality and spokesperson for the company’s Operation Next Step, says that military spouses are a good fit for hospitality because they often hold values similar to their partners’—honor, integrity, and a heart for service. “What a spouse brings to the table as well is adaptability and flexibility,” Bradley explains. “They are picking up and moving along with their spouse, and having that flexibility helps them perform well.”
Securing a job in hospitality is just half the battle for military veterans. Transitioning to civilian life after service remains a difficult challenge for U.S. military veterans. Hotel companies have responded with efforts to aid employees in the process. Choice Hotels encourages its employees to participate in networks and resource groups that provide career development, support, and mentoring, such as VALOR (Veterans Are Loyal Organization Resources), and Wyndham Worldwide holds development events specifically designed for associates who are veterans. Bradley adds that at G6 Hospitality, peer networks provide an invaluable system of support to help former veterans adjust to a new environment.
Efforts to recruit and retain military family and veterans not only lead to rewarding careers for those who have served their country, but ultimately enhance the hospitality community as a whole with highly trained, skilled, and dedicated employees.