A Hiring Manager’s Secrets to Landing the Job

This guest post was written by Mike Rutter, a Food & Beverage Director for one of the largest hotel chains in the world.

I am not a Military Veteran. My life wasn’t spent hopping between training commands, combat tours, and overseas deployments. However, I recognize the sacrifice you’ve given, I’m not sure I could have done it. I have a great deal of respect for your service. So much so that I’m tired of hearing about unemployed Veterans, and want to help do something about it.

Like most of you, I attended Junior College but eventually decided that it just wasn’t for me. I was hired as a bouncer in a large night club about 25 years ago. I was really good at it, and not just because I’m the size of most NFL linemen. Despite what you saw on Roadhouse (which every bouncer has memorized) bouncing is more about using your head, your eyes, and your people skills than using your muscles.

One fateful night the owner of the bar came to me and asked me if I wanted to learn how to bartend, and I did, and I found I was good at that too! I was hired away by a resort hotel as a bartender, and they taught me about food service. Skip ahead 10 years, I was given a chance to become the Director of Food and Beverage 700 miles away in beautiful Northern Michigan. Today, I am the Director of Food and Beverage at one of the largest hotels in the state of Minnesota.

So, after my college experiment, I found a job that didn’t need a formal education, and poured my heart and soul into it. I’ve relocated my family several times, and we come home to visit as often as we can afford to. I work weekends, holidays, and double shifts and longer hours than most people without additional pay or recognition. Sound familiar?

One of the most important parts of my position is hiring entry-level employees, and training them to do jobs in my industry. Basically, I provide careers to people.

My hotel employs roughly 150 people, and of them, maybe 12 have a college education. In the Hospitality industry, we hire people more for the qualities we see in them than the education they possess. The neat thing in our industry is that opportunities open up all the time and we seek out those employees who show promise in what they do, a willingness to learn something new, and their ability to do something extra to move up the ladder when opportunities present themselves.

Right now and often throughout the years, the pool to hire new staff has dried up. I have actually been forced to reach out to a placement specialist who provides foreign staff who need the experience. Honestly, I’d rather hire a Veteran.

Which finally brings me to the point. If you want a job, here are some hints to help the process. You are probably not looking for an entry-level position, but it’s not very often your military specialty is an exact fit for what we employers are looking for.

It’s OK if you don’t have very many skills making you relevant. First, you have to get a job. Here is exactly what I am looking for.

Dress Like You Are Trying To Land A Job. You don’t need a suit for most of these jobs, but you need to be clean and pressed. Slacks and a shirt that are crisp and ironed show that you’ve taken the time to try to look good. We know Uncle Sam taught you how to iron, so if you don’t look pressed we know you blow things off. I suggest not wearing jeans, and I always appreciate seeing a pair of dress shoes. It would be nice if you didn’t wear tennis shoes, but DO NOT wear sandals, flip-flops or shorts even if it’s a job in Key West.

Be Early. 10-15 minutes early is respectful, 1 minute late is disrespectful. The person interviewing you values your time and theirs. Respect it, don’t waste it.

Be Prepared. Bring a pen that works, and at least 3 references with phone numbers, addresses, and a name of someone able to speak well on your behalf. You’ll need these to fill out the application and it shows you came prepared. It helps if they’re people you’ve worked for before; we can talk to your mom but we’re pretty sure she’ll say nice things about you.

Smile and Make Eye Contact. The service industry revolves around the customer. You are selling yourself from the moment you walk through the door. Be engaging and respectful. Turn the ringer off on your phone and put it in your pocket. How you interact with me is a great indication of how you’ll interact with our guests. But you will likely be judged by the first employee you see and they will tell me how they feel about you as soon as we’re done.

Prepare Your Thoughts. Do a little research on the company you are applying to, and have a couple of questions prepared for me. . I will ask you some tough questions. You can be guaranteed these will be among them:

  • What is your greatest asset?
  • What is your greatest weakness or something about yourself you would like to change?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What kind of goals do you have for yourself?

Be Honest. Those of us who interview a lot of people can read body language. Your eyes don’t lie. We can tell when you are stretching the truth and when you are making things up. If you don’t know something or haven’t had experience in any area, just be honest but express your desire to learn! Not having the perfect answer might lose you the job, but lying about yourself will ruin the interview. Guaranteed.

Be Willing to do Whatever is Needed. Being at the bottom won’t last long if you express interest in moving up and prove you can do it.

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