What Skills Can Graduate Talent Bring to Augment Service Quality in the Hotel Industry?

By Bernadette Scott Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Business Management, Glasgow School for Business & Society/Glasgow Caledonian University | March 01, 2015

What Skills Can I Expect From Graduates?

Graduates bring with them a set of both enabling and translation level attributes according to Hughes and Barrie (2010). The enabled graduate having been honed by the degree of learning and immersion in scholarship is then able to translate according to context using their own skills sets, including cognitive ability and personal attributes to help achieve effective global citizenship. The 21st Century graduate needs to be in tune with all the requirements of the growing knowledge economy and this means that their translation abilities must cover ethics, social and professional understanding, as well as high levels of communication and informational literacy.

There is a difference between the skills sets of under and post graduate talent. According to the QAA (2009) undergraduates are expected to bring critical understanding to a situation, with a knowledge bank which is frequently updated. This awareness of the fluidity involved in knowledge change is important in the new era due to rapid movements across markets. They must also be able to identify, analyze, inquire, formulate, assess, evaluate, argue and apply critically, providing creative solutions which are evidence based within the complexities of changing social, cultural and economic environments, in professional and ethical ways.

Masterís status, according to the QAA expects demonstration of all of this, plus the added dimensions of originality, application of advanced knowledge, as well as the ability to deal with complexities and incomplete data in reaching effective solutions. Graduate status is therefore a serious commodity for an organization to weave into its cultural fabric and it can really boost the availability of talent within the pipeline for deployment as required. Organizations often complain that graduates do not arrive with the exact skills fit that they require. The fact is that most now recruit from open graduate pools, which are not discipline specific. They state that they are looking for creativity and graduate level ability, rather than sector experience or subject specific knowledge.

Graduates begin to hone their professional identity (which includes their graduate status) during their programs of study, but this is by no means complete at the point of graduation. The role of the employer is crucial in continuing this development and forms part of the organizational investment in its graduate talent pipeline (Scott, 2014). If the context of the graduate position is new to the individual graduate, they not only have to grapple with a new organization and all of the challenging aspects of the psychological contract, but having been selected on the basis of their graduate status and not subject specific knowledge, organizations must be especially aware of the need to invest strategically in graduate talent across the first 18 months, to allow space to make the cultural fit as they translate into the new role expectations. Employers should consider how proactive they can be in making the transition from student to employee more effective for both organization and graduate talent. They must be clear about the skills they are looking for from graduates (general and technical) and consider potential proactive partnerships (including work experience opportunities and master class provision) with Higher Education Institutions. This should engage graduates at an early stage with a view to influencing and honing talent requirements for their own pipelines and also unlocking a powerful potential source for promotion of their employer brand.

Why Are Graduates Important in Strategic Talent Management?

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.