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6 Ways to Position Yourself for Career Success in Hospitality & Tourism

Businessmen sitting around a table

February 17, 2017

By: Brad Gessner

Differentiation is undoubtedly crucial in today’s competitive workforce. But, setting yourself apart doesn’t always require you to do something big or novel. In sports, you’ll hear coaches talk about their team doing “the little things.” They spend hours practicing every element of the game, not just to make corrections and address weaknesses, but simply to get in the habit of doing “the little things,” the right way.

The same concept applies in hospitality and tourism. It’s not always about making an immediate impact; the path to senior leadership is built on patience, perspective, and sustained motivation. Here are six of the most powerful “little things” you can do to succeed in one of the most exciting and rewarding industries out there.

1. Get Your Foot in the Door

This might seem too simple to be helpful, but many people miss the point of many opportunities. They want an express ride to the top, which can cause them to sabotage their own success by writing off a seemingly “small” job. If you can get in with a great organization, don’t be afraid to take a relatively humble starting role. There are plenty of leaders in this business, including myself, who were willing to start at the bottom and work their way up.

2. Embrace Every Step on the Ladder

Pursuing a goal is every bit as fulfilling as achieving that goal. Don’t be in a hurry to climb the ladder. Ascension is an inexact science, and there’s a fine line between being patient and being content, but everything you learn along the way will help you become a better colleague, friend, leader, and mentor. Oftentimes, someone who catapults to the top runs a higher risk of failure and will damage their reputation before they ever hit their prime. Remember, you’re not just building your career; you’re building your reputation.

3. Have a Vision

A mentor of mine once told me to enter every job with a vision of staying with the company for at least five years—a dramatically different school of thought than that of most millennials! That doesn’t mean you have to stay for five years, but it will help you develop a plan by which you can evaluate your progress over a longer haul. “Job hopping” might be shedding its negative connotations these days, but it’s not conducive to maximizing the opportunities within a given organization.

4. Be Honest

Being a “people person” is a necessity for excelling in any sector relating to hospitality and tourism. It’s a relatively subjective term, but a people person is essentially someone who shows honesty and integrity in everything they do. Hospitality is all about taking care of other people. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to not only take care of guests, but also empower your staff and bring value to stakeholders. Doing so ties back to being genuinely committed and invested in delivering a great experience across the board.

5. Be the Volunteer

Are you a go-getter? One of the best ways to be noticed by decision makers is to be the volunteer in the room when someone asks who wants to take on a project. Fellow Hospitality & Tourism (HTM) Master’s alum, Tracy Judge, said it perfectly:

“No one likes an attention seeker, but a big part of getting a promotion is making it known that you have the desire to advance your career. There are plenty of people who are perfectly fine in a lifetime role; you don’t want to be mistaken for one of them. Making yourself visible isn’t a matter of outwardly stating you want a promotion or placing individual recognition ahead of team objectives. It’s more about putting your skills and enthusiasm on full display. Take pride in your work, and others will soon begin to notice.”

Read Tracy’s full article on ways to make yourself more promotable here.

6. Invest in Education

In an age where you can Google anything and get a thousand results instantly, it’s all too easy to try and dive right into a new endeavor. When it comes to your career, though, you need more than a general understanding. The HTM Master’s Program at San Diego State University is one of the most unique programs of its kind, providing an entirely hands-on curriculum that can be completed mostly online, on your own schedule. More than a master’s program, it’s an investment in your future. Click here to learn more.

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