What's Happening on the Hospitality Jobs Front? Hospitality Talent Scouts - May 2009

May 2009

There is certainly a lot happening in the Hospitality Industry job market right now, and we are getting numerous questions from everyone from Front Line Managers to Corporate Executives , asking us what we are seeing and feeling out there. Since we can't possibly begin to keep up with all these calls and inquiries, we decided to share what we see going on with our friends in the industry in a quick email. Keep in mind this is only from our vantage point.

Let's start with the number one question: What's the job market like? Well, my response to that question has always been that if you are good at what you, do the job market is always good. While I truly believe this, as always, there are exceptions to the rules, and are we seeing some of those exceptions!

Daily-and particularly over the past four months-the number of telephone calls and resumes sent to our office from individuals looking for positions has nearly tripled from normal levels. We can hardly keep up with all the inquiries. We apologize if you are one of those people we have been unable to contact. These inquires are not just from people who are unemployed but also people looking to make changes from their current positions. You might ask why people would want to leave a seemingly good job in this environment. The answer is very simple:

Individuals are feeling the squeeze at all levels.

Revenues are down, and many hotels that were purchased in the period from 2003 to 2007 were purchased at the peak of the market based on some very aggressive pro forma statements. Many of those statements would have been difficult to achieve in a good economy, let alone the unprecedented and uncharted territory we have seen in recent months.

It is my understanding that over 20 billion dollars of hotel loans will come up for refinancing in the next six to nine months. If credit remains at some of the tight levels that still exist today, many of these owners will not be able to refinance. On the other hand, there are many companies positioned very well on the sidelines, ready to pick up these assets at what they hope will be attractive prices. If you are associated with a property that is in one of these situations, you are feeling the pain.

On the corporate level, we have witnessed numerous positions being eliminated. In many cases, corporate people are taking over property-level positions, and the property-level positions are being eliminated. For example, Vice Presidents of Operations with many organizations have been asked to assume a General Manager's role while still having regional responsibilities, leaving a GM without a job and the VPs with more than a full plate.

What we saw in the fourth quarter of 2008 was very different from what we saw in the first quarter of 2009.

The fourth quarter of 2008 was the busiest since I started H.T.S. in 2005 and it centered around two disciplines?General Managers and Directors of Sales. We had an unprecedented number of confidential searches. What that means is that the employer wants to make a change once an alternate candidate is secured and is searching without the knowledge of the current person in place. While we believe everyone is under added pressure, what has become very clear to us is that the buck stops with the GM and DOS. These two position classes are really feeling the stress. So if you're a VPO reading this, go out and give your GM a hug; and if you are a GM, go out and give your DOS a hug.

The first quarter of 2009, from our perspective, appears to be different in that many organizations have taken even more drastic steps to cut costs. We also saw what we thought were more babies being thrown out with the bath water than ever before. I'm talking about very good, stable organizations. It was as if there was a need to find somebody to blame, and if you were the poor person in the wrong place at the wrong time, you experienced the result of some unpleasant decisions. Right or wrong, this can be brewed over forever. Our advice if you have been caught up in such a situation is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the ring.

The Good News! To quote an old boss of mine, "I've seen this movie before. I've been in this movie and played a star role in this movie, and I know how it ends." For those of you who know me, I'll let you guess what boss that was. I got a lot of good sayings from him. Yes, the good news is that this is cyclical, and every downturn will be followed by an upturn. I turned 50 years old last week, and can truly say I've seen this movie before, have been in this movie, and played a star role. Although I do hear people say, ". . . but not as bad as this time." Personally, I think people have short memories. Bottom line is we will come out of this, and certainly right now, some of the bears are even conceding that the worst could be over.

Whether you are currently temporarily out of work or tremendously feeling the stress of your current job, I will leave you with these words spoken by someone much smarter than I:

"Press On: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Calvin Coolidge

Remember, every sea captain knows his next port of call, and even though they cannot see their actual destination for fully 99 percent of the voyage, they know what it is, where it is, and that, barring an unforeseen catastrophe, they will surely reach it if they keep doing certain things a certain way each day.

Keep the Faith! Stay the Course!

And don't forget that your friends at Hospitality Talent Scouts are here. Stay in touch and call us if you are trying to strengthen your team while trying to navigate through these troubled waters.

Best wishes,
Frank Speranza