When to (and Not to) Use a Hotel Recruiter

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | February 10, 2019

Finding talent for a property, hotel chain or travel tech company is expensive. From screener interviews, to the time team members need to spend interviewing candidates, to the lost costs of a role going unfilled, dollars and time add up as companies look to bring in new talent, a process that usually takes nearly a month an a half.

Many of these cost centers can be mitigated through a partnership with a recruiter. These individuals can largely eliminate the screening process for hotels and tech companies, shake loose passive candidates who might be better qualified for a role than someone who's on the market, and even help with little things like creating job descriptions that will accurately represent the role.

That's not to say every company should always be engaged with a recruiter for every hire. Below are a series of green and red flags companies should consider (green for 'hire a recruiter' and red for 'holding off') before enlisting the help of a hiring professional.

Green Flag: There is flexibility in the role

Oftentimes, when a role opens up, the responsibilities have changed from the job's original description. Perhaps this is because technology has evolved, or maybe it's because a standout employee took on more than was expected. It can also be because a company wants to add someone who fits the description, but thinks there is an opportunity to add elements to the role.

Regardless of the reason, finding the right fit for what is essentially a moving target can be incredibly difficult for in-house hiring managers, and this is where recruiters can shine. Generally speaking, recruiters have amassed a wide range of current and passive candidates that offer an extensive range of possible fits.

However, this green flag comes with a caveat. Hiring managers must be open to feedback from recruiters as they are trying to create the job description and interviewing candidates. Overall, recruiters go out into the current market and find candidates that match the opportunity, the hotel company and are an all-around good fit. These candidates will not always look like the candidates the hiring managers originally pictured, and this can be exacerbated when the role has flexibility.

Green Flag: There is funding available for the role

An employer should have the ability to fund the salary of the new employee for a year. It makes no sense to bring on a highly qualified candidate if there are questions about whether the company will be able to afford them in just a few months. This disruption to their life that comes with starting a new role shouldn't be overlooked. Many of the candidates a recruiter will bring into the mix are passive, that is, not aggressively looking. To have a candidate start a new role only to be relieved of duties within a couple months is bound to leave a bad taste in their mouth. The hospitality community is quite small and interconnected. Being unable to afford a new hire can lead to less qualified candidates being interested over time, to say nothing of sites like Glassdoor, where reviews can be damaging in the short and long-term.

This network effect is also true of recruiters, though not necessarily in the same way that job board reviews are obvious. Generally speaking, most recruiters have a network of colleagues they work with, partner with, or at least help out. This can be basics like asking colleagues if they have anyone in their network they'd recommend with a particular programming skill, or asking around to see if a particular company or hotel chain has a reputation for being late with payment. Again, finding the right candidate can be difficult. Amazing candidates that could not be found any other way other than by using a recruiter might go unseen without a recruiter involved. Just like hotels ask guests to pay for the rooms they stay in, recruiting fees should be considered part of the expense of hiring.

Red Flag: The funding is questionable

If there are questions about being able to fully fund a role (and/or recruiter fee), hotel leaders should avoid bringing in the hire (or recruiter). This isn't to say that the role should (or needs) to go unfilled. There are a number of options hotels and tech companies can consider to fill roles while working on a budget. These include:

- Making the role part-time - depending on the role, it is possible to hire a part-time employee while funding changes over a few months. Temp-to-perm roles are quite common, and can give employers what is essentially a long-term interview opportunity. Hiring managers can take their time to decide if a hire is the right fit. The only downside here is that many candidates looking for full-time roles won't consider this offering, meaning it's unlikely a property will end up with their perfect hire.

- Making the decision to train - Another option is to hire someone who can grow into the role. For instance, a hotel tech company may not be comfortable with the salary requirements of a senior marketing professional, but may be able to bring on a junior marketer with the idea of training them up through in-house, and external training. There is, of course, a formula that hotel leaders should figure out if they go this approach. Costs of internal training + external training should be less than the cost of a more senior hire. There is also an element of patience required with this approach… junior candidates aren't going to take on every element of a role on day one.

- Hiring a freelancer - Depending on the role, it's possible to find a specialist (or group of specialists) that can meet specific needs. Augmenting a staff with freelance support can provide coverage for immediate responsibilities for a role (i.e. a bookkeeper to help with taxes), with no long term commitment. However, there is the concern that freelancers won't be available for future engagements, assuming they've found other projects.

Regardless of the approach, there is one thing hiring managers should keep in mind. Hiring the least expensive employee is never the best way to get the most bang for the buck. They will almost always cost more in the long run.

Red Flag: There's already a perfect candidate

While some organizations require posting of new opportunities, they don't require reaching out to a recruiting service or recruiter. For leaders looking to make an internal hire (or promotion), it's important to take the first step with that candidate; interview them. If they're right, make the hire, and then go on to finding their replacement. There is no need to hire a recruiter for internal hires.

Green Flag: The existing team has the ability to train

This is an important consideration. When internal teams are spread too thin, they can neglect the soft skills of their role. When it comes to proper onboarding, this is a massive issue. Ineffective onboarding can cause qualified (or spectacular) new hires to reconsider the position they accepted. If they are great candidates, there's a chance their previous employer will welcome them back.

One way to ensure that this won't be an issue is to have the new employee's direct manager connect with the recruiter in advance of the hiring. Recruiters can help to level-set the expectation on what will, and won't, be available as far as early onboarding.

Red Flag: Hiring manager doesn't see the value in recruiters

For hiring managers, recruiters offer a wider pool of talent than they would typically be able to find through established networks, partnerships, and access to passive candidates. That doesn't mean everyone is a believer in the power of recruiters. If a hiring manager is dead set against using external resources for finding the right candidate, there is no sense in forcing the issue.

Red Flag: Multiple hiring managers with multiple requests

There is a difference between a role having flexibility, and role being designed differently by different stakeholders. When there are multiple managers that an employee will be reporting to, and they can not agree on what the role should be, or worse, the type of employee they want to hire, it's better to take a step back and resolve the issue before bringing on a recruiter and hoping they can magically fix the issue.

Red Flag: The environment is toxic

If management is in the process of correcting what has become a toxic environment, hiring managers should be put on hold for hiring. In these instances, temp/part-time workers or freelancers can stem the tide to enable a company to get things right before bringing in talent that they hope lasts long term.

Green Flag: Leadership is open to change

Sometimes managers visualize a similar candidate to their current employees, but the market and skill set availability change, budget may not match skill set and the property may not align with the dream candidate, meaning a manager must be open to change. This is OK. Every new hire will change the organization in some way. That's part of bringing in new talent and growing.

Recruiters can help hiring managers understand the dynamics in the market, and for the reason, offer a tremendous value to hiring managers looking to bring on the right talent (into the right situation).

There are a lot of red flags here, which is a little weird, considering the background of the author. However, it's important to note that many recruiters look to build ongoing relationships with hotels and travel tech companies. There is no harm in trying to establish a relationship with a recruiter so that they're on hand when a role opens up with nothing but green flags. This isn't to say every role should be filled by a recruiter… just that having one available can offer tremendous value.

Ms. Connolly Zoe Connolly is the co-founder and managing director for Hospitality Spotlight, a full service executive search firm for the hospitality and travel industries. For more than a decade, she's pioneered innovative and proactive recruiting efforts, connecting the best talent with the best companies, across all levels of organizations. Currently, through working with clients like Starwood, Viceroy and Pacifica Hotels, Hospitality Spotlight has emerged as one of the go-to firms for senior level talent in the hotel and travel technology space. A refreshing combination of an expansive network and brutal honesty continues to push Ms. Connolly and her clients, both companies and candidates into a bright spotlight. Zoe Connolly can be contacted at 858-230-8501 or zoe@hospitalityspotlight.com Please visit www.hospitalityspotlight.com for more information. Extended Biography

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Human Resources: An Era of Transition

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