Building a skillset – guarantee that all-important job

There is no doubt that you will be asked at interview level what skills you can offer. You may have come across the term 'transferable skill', and even if you have never worked in hospitality jobs before, it is vital that you know exactly what this phrase means and how you can use it to your advantage.

Remember: transferable skills are not specialised or technical. They can be learnt in any field and they will be very valuable when you are making your applications.

So what are these skills? Well beyond the basic literacy and numeracy abilities that you acquire through primary and secondary education, there is a basic skillset that employers will be looking for. This includes your commitment to the field and the ability to make decisions quickly. However, the most important one in the hospitality industry is your ability to communicate. Not only will you be talking to your fellow colleagues on a daily basis, but it will also be your job to interact with customers. Furthermore, not only should you be able to take orders, but if you want to climb the career ladder, you should also be able to dish them out.

Some of these will naturally be more important in certain sub-sectors than others. For example, you will be talking to customers regularly in hotel or restaurant jobs, while chef vacancies may require you to spend most of your time behind the scenes.

Generally, like any job, bosses will look to see if you are punctual, organised, have a willingness to accept responsibility and have attention to detail. All of these skills should be obvious in your interview, so pay attention to these carefully.

If you feel like you are not ticking these boxes, you need to consider developing your work experience and CV. Look at what the job description requires and work on the pre-requisites that you may not have achieved yet. It is crucial that you tailor your CV individually to each job vacancy, so ensure that it has a focus on the key skills. However, be careful not to oversell yourself. It is natural that you would want to include everything you have achieved in your life, but if it is not relevant to the job position, it will be useless and simply bore the employer. That's how your job application ends up in the bin.

These transferable skills are very attractive, but remember to prioritise your hospitality-specific ones first. Give full detail to past experience in the sector and then your transferable and more generic skills should follow. If a vacancy has asked for a specific qualification or experience, never lie your way in. You may secure the job, but at one point you will be found out.

There is a reason why governments focus so much on skill academies. Get the tools under your belt and your trip on the unemployment path should not be too long.

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you with hospitality careers.

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