The hospitality industry is well known as a great place to work if you want to travel the world and experience lots of different places and people. Any employer will appreciate the sheer variety of experience you’ve picked up from working in six different properties over the last 2 years right?
Well maybe, and maybe not. If your CV shows a pattern of you taking permanent jobs then moving on after a couple of months, this is going to start looking worrying to potential employers: if you want a serious career, you need to stick at your jobs.
Why employers hate job-hoppers…
Loyalty – one of the most important qualities in any employee. If you are moving job every few months, you’re not demonstrating much of it.
Stability – every time someone leaves it destabilises the team. The “domino effect” of one departure prompting others to look for pastures new is very real.
Investment in training - whatever job you go into, even if you aren’t sent on formal training courses, other staff will spend time showing you the ropes and getting you up to speed; there is a cost to this. Also, when you are new you won’t be as efficient as someone who’s been in the job for a while, so if you leave before you’ve really got into the job, that’s hugely expensive for an employer.
Recruitment Costs – whether an employer uses an external agency or has an in-house recruitment department, recruitment is expensive! No one wants to have to start the process again after a few months.
You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? If you only last a few months in each of your jobs it starts to look like you do a really good interview, but just can’t cut it when you actually start work.
So for how long should I aim to stay in a job?
This depends on how senior you are. For junior roles like Chef de Partie, Commis, Chef de Rang, six months is an absolute minimum. As you get more senior it will take you longer to really become effective in a new job so employers expect at least a year. For management roles, 2 years plus is really what you need to actually show an employer what you can do. Even better still, if you can get yourself promoted during your time with an employer then that’s a huge bonus.
But what if I really hate my new job?
If you start a new job and feel instantly that you have made a mistake you have 2 choices: either hand in your notice and get out asap, or settle down and tough it out.
Remember, first impressions aren’t always right. When I (Clare) took my first job in recruitment I spent most evenings for the first month crying into my wine: the boss was an evil witch, my colleagues were bitchy backstabbers and as for the customers..! Four years later I loved the job, had been promoted several times and many of those bitchy colleagues had become close friends (the boss really was an evil witch, but she got sacked :)!). The moral of the stoy is, if you stick with it sometimes a difficult start turns into one of the best moves you ever make.
But if you really think you’ve made a mistake and you can’t stick with it the best thing you can do is get out as quickly as possible. This way at least the employer hasn’t spent time and money training you, and maybe candidates who came a close second to you will still be available and can fill the job.
So is it ever OK to job-hop?
It is indeed. Getting a variety of experience is a great idea and there are any number of legitimate ways to do this.
Seasonal Work – signing up for a ski season, a summer season or a stint on a cruise ship offers you a fixed term contract. You may choose to stay on longer or go back the following year, but no one is going to hold it against you if you don’t.
Agency work – signing up with a temporary recruitment agency gives you the opportunity to gain experience with a variety of different employers and also the flexibility to work as much or as little as you choose.
Stages – getting yourself a stage (or stagiaire) in a top hotel or restaurant can really help you take your skills to the next level, often without having to even leave your existing job.
Events work – working for a few days at large scale events, whether it’s sporting events, festivals, weddings or banquets can be a great experience and again something you can probably achieve without having to leave your main job.
So, remember, the hospitality industry can certainly offer you an exciting varied career with lots of opportunities to travel and experience different types of work.
But if you sign up for a permanent job, remember you are making a commitment and be prepared to be in it for the long haul!