Surviving the Hospitality Talent Crisis


Surviving the Hospitality Talent Crisis

As the economy recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting and hiring top talent for your hotel has never been harder. Here’s how to get it right.


Few industries were hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than hospitality. Social distancing restrictions forced people to stay home, which meant less travel and significantly fewer hotel stays. While other industries could adapt and operate virtually, you couldn’t. You had to lay off and furlough workers in order to survive.

But as folks get vaccinated, we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Restrictions are easing and people are traveling again after more than a year in isolation. This is great for business in the hotel space — people want to get out and spend. The problem is that you’re struggling to get your hotel staff back to full capacity. You can’t find people to fill your open roles, which in turn impacts your ability to provide the best possible guest experience and ultimately maximize revenue. Simply put, you’re facing an unprecedented talent crisis.

In this eBook, we’re going to unpack the root causes of this crisis and define some actionable steps you can take now to get in front of job seekers, staff up to the numbers you’d like to, and win as we quickly return to pre-pandemic normal.

Unpacking the Crisis

Let’s start with some of the numbers that represent the foundation of this crisis. In March of 2020, America reached Great Depression-era levels of unemployment and about 40% of the jobs lost during this were in the leisure and hospitality space. Fast forward to July of 2021. The economy is recovering quickly and employers add hundreds of thousands of jobs back into the economy every month. And in June of 2020, a quarter of those jobs created were in the hospitality space alone.

Accelerated job growth is certainly a good sign for the economic recovery — it means businesses are opening, people are spending and the economy is back on track. Ideally, employers in the space could re-hire the folks who were let go at the onset of the pandemic, but it hasn’t been that easy. The problem lies with the workforce participation rate, or the percentage of working-aged Americans either working or actively looking for work. This number has remained stagnant around 61.6%, which is down from the pre-pandemic number of more than 63%. 

In other words, we keep pouring new jobs into the economy (particularly in the hospitality space) but there just aren’t enough people out there who are looking to take those jobs despite the unemployment rate lingering at twice the pre-pandemic number. And those who did lose their jobs at the start of the pandemic have so many options that they have the upper hand and can be choosy about which roles they do pursue. In fact, a recent Joblist survey found that 50% of workers in the hospitality space who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic say they’re not considering returning to the industry. 

This has created a situation where you’re forced to compete with more and more employers every month for a somewhat small talent pool that just isn’t growing at the same rate job creation is. And many of the employers you’re competing with are big-name organizations like Amazon or Starbucks that are able to offer perks and pay that you’re just not able to match. 

As a result, you’re struggling to provide the top-notch experience your customers expect. Your people are ultimately the foundation of your guest experience and if you don’t have enough people — or the wrong people — on staff, the guest experience is significantly impacted. And when guests have a poor experience, they leave poor reviews, which ultimately affects revenue and your ability to drive long-term loyalty. 

Winning in this crisis starts with an understanding of what’s causing it. Unfortunately, the answer is convoluted. Some of the contributing factors are out of your control — such as retiring baby boomers and decades of lower birth rates leading to fewer people available to work. Others, such as a lack of childcare and health concerns, should clear up as we continue to recover from the pandemic. 

But there is one factor that you can address — the emerging misalignment between what employers are offering and what job seekers today want. Folks who previously worked in the hospitality space have had a year to reassess what they expect from their careers — they’ve considered factors like pay, benefits, working conditions, flexibility, culture and more. Many have decided that they aren’t going to stay in the industry if it doesn’t meet these needs. 

38% of job seekers who last worked in the leisure and hospitality industry say they are now looking for work in a different industry. (Source: Joblist)

There is no denying that hiring is hard right now. And it may seem impossible to attract talent, staff up and win in a climate like this. But we’re here to tell you that it’s possible. There are things you can do now to position yourself to get in front of top job seekers as the economy recovers.

Embrace Recruitment Marketing

In an applicant-driven economy, attracting more applicants requires increased effort on your part. You can’t passively sit back and expect job seekers to be knocking on your door. You need to market to them just like you would customers. Here’s how:

Update Your Career Site

The foundation of great recruitment marketing is a solid career site. A career site is a dedicated section of your website completely focused on applicant messaging — it is the hub of your employer brand. It should highlight any perk that makes you unique — your benefits, culture, flexibility and more. Use videos and images to highlight these uniques and include testimonials from current employees to add a personal touch. When building your career site, always remember: if an applicant has several offers for similar roles with similar pay, what would make them choose you?

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Of course many hotels are part of a larger management group, meaning you might not have the luxury of creating and owning a dedicated career site. If this is the case, you can use social media to serve the same purpose. Post videos and images that show off your culture and other perks and highlight existing employees to show that you truly value your people. If you want more social media recruitment tips, check out our guide here. 

Revamp Your Job Descriptions

Another important aspect of a good recruitment marketing strategy is your job descriptions. It’s critical that your descriptions clearly and succinctly outline what the job entails. At a time when job seekers have plenty of options, they aren’t going to take the time to apply to a role if they aren’t sure it’s for them. Additionally, you want to make sure job seekers actually see your open roles. The easiest way to do this is by optimizing your job descriptions for search so that they show up in Google, job board or Facebook searches. 

SEO best practices for job descriptions include:

  • Keep the job titles short and concise (between 1 and 3 words)
  • Break up the text with subheadings
  • Write between 300-800 words
  • Use bullet points for scannability

Diversify Your Sources

If you’re still relying on job boards alone to source applicants for your open roles, you’re missing out on an entire population of job seekers — folks who are qualified and eager to work. And as the talent crisis rages on, missing out on portions of the talent pool is only going to continue to set you back from your competitors. Plus, job boards can get expensive fast and in some cases can result in a really low return on investment. Here are three additional channels you need to add to your sourcing strategy to get in front of a wider pool of talent:

  • Social media: 72% of U.S. adults are active on at least one social media site, making it a really easy and free way to expand your reach to more people. Jobs on Facebook in particular is one of the fastest growing social media sites for job seekers today.
  • Employee referrals: Your best employees have a large network of people who are just like them — because good people know good people. And folks referred by your existing teammates are more likely to be a better fit for your organization. Among Hireology customers, one in 10 employee referrals eventually become hires (compared to 2% of non-referrals). Create a program that makes it easy for employees to refer their peers to your open roles and rewards them for doing so.
  • Career site: While a career site typically serves as the hub for your employer brand, it can be its own source of applicants too — because job seekers who are most interested in working for you know about you as an organization already and will go to your website directly. Make sure your career site clearly highlights the perks of working for you and that it’s easy for folks to navigate.

Among Hireology customers, one in 10 employee referrals eventually become hires (compared to 2% of non-referrals)

Make it Easy

A recent Hireology study found that nearly half of today’s job seekers (45%) have applied to more than 11 jobs throughout their search. In other words, applicants have plenty of options. So they aren’t going to take time to apply to your roles if you make it difficult for them to do so. Similarly, you risk losing candidates if your hiring and screening process is too long and convoluted. 

45% of today’s job seekers say they applied to more than 11 jobs throughout their most recent search. (Source: Hireology State of Hiring)

Here are some easy things you can do to lower the barrier for people to apply and keep them engaged throughout the process:

Shorten Your Applications

The days of job applications that require folks to complete dozens of fields are over. Your applications should ask for the bare minimum: name, contact information and resume. Your recruiters can get more information from the candidates later — much like your sales team would do with new leads. 

Make Applications Mobile Friendly

In addition to keeping your job applications as short as possible, they also need to be mobile friendly. People use their smartphones to search for and apply to jobs more than ever before, and if you make it really tough for them to go do (think: they have to zoom in to complete fields or wait for the application to load) they’re going to move onto other opportunities. 

Embrace Candidate Texting

Job seekers are also using their smartphones as a primary method of communication with recruiters. So don’t make them search through cluttered email inboxes on their smartphones to find your messages or schedule interviews. Cut through the noise and reach them directly through text messages instead. Hireology customers who text candidates are actually able to shave an average of eight days off the hiring process.

Candidate texting best practices include:

  • Keep messages short and sweet
  • Personalize your messages — candidates don’t want to feel like they’re receiving a mass text 
  • Send more texts on Sundays and Thursdays — Hireology data shows that these days garner the best response rates
  • Be professional and polite

Don’t Overcomplicate Interviewing

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: job seekers have plenty of options. And on top of that, they’re busy. If you make them come in person multiple times to interview, they’re going to lose interest and move onto competitors that make it easier. Allow for some of the interviews in the process to be conducted virtually. And when you do interview them in person, include multiple stakeholders in the interview so that everyone can speak to the candidate at once.

Ehance Your Processes

The same Hireology study also found that 43% of job seekers today complete the entire hiring process — from the initial discovery through accepting an offer — in two weeks or less. So if you’re taking longer than that to move top talent through the process, you risk losing them to competitors. The biggest factor causing you to move slow? Outdated and archaic processes. 

43% of job seekers today complete the entire hiring process — from the initial discovery through accepting an offer — in two weeks or less. (Source: Hireology State of Hiring)

Here’s how to enhance your workflows to move faster:

Mandate Faster Response Times

A simple and easy change you can make right now is to mandate faster initial responses from your hiring managers. Don’t let your team sit on applications for a few days. By then, the most qualified folks have already moved onto the interview stage with your competitors. And remember: for mandates like these to be most effective, they need to come from the top.

Use Automated Screening Tools

Manually screening resumes to weed out unqualified applicants can be a major time suck. Automating steps like pre-screen surveys will save you time and help you get to top candidates sooner. Pre-screen surveys require candidates to complete a brief series of true/false questions about their experience, availability and motivations. Surveys are scored automatically and added to their records, allowing recruiters to connect with those most likely to be great fits faster.

Look for Bottlenecks

Certain aspects of your hiring process are likely acting as a bottleneck. Take a step back and analyze your process in order to identify what might be slowing you down. For example, maybe it’s taking you too long to schedule interviews with your hiring managers and it’s dragging the process out. Of course this doesn’t mean you should cut corners. Running objective interviews, giving skills tests, and conducting background checks will always be necessary. But it’s important to keep an eye on which steps are taking the most time and identify ways to operate more efficiently.

Go Mobile

Folks on your team are so busy that they rarely have time to sit at their desks to communicate with candidates, which ultimately slows you down. But if you give your recruiters and hiring managers the option to work from their mobile devices, they can complete critical steps like scheduling interviews or initiating skills tests while they’re on-the-go between meetings or even during their commute. Among Hireology users, we’ve seen that customers who use our app alongside our desktop experience are able to hire in one-third of the time it takes those relying on desktop alone.

Among Hireology users, we’ve seen that customers who use our app alongside our desktop experience are able to hire in one-third of the time it takes those relying on desktop alone. 

Get Started Today

If all of this seems like a lot to do on your own, that’s because it is. And if you’re working with archaic tools and disparate systems, it’s even harder to add steps like candidate texting or automated screeners to your process. You are forced to learn multiple complex new tools that likely don’t talk to one another, which wastes time and puts you at risk for errors.

This is where Hireology comes in. Designed for decentralized businesses, Hireology brings together everything you need to attract, hire and onboard hotel talent — fast. Here’s a closer look at the value Hireology can bring to your hotel:

Easy and Simple to Use

We know you don’t have time to learn new complicated tools — not to mention training your team on them too. That’s why we’ve made Hireology as simple and intuitive to use as possible.


With Hireology, everything you need to attract, hire and onboard new talent is located all in a single platform. This saves you time and reduces the risk of error.

Tailored Customer Support

Unlike other providers in the HR tech space, Hireology comes with top-notch customer support. We have a team of folks who are dedicated to serving your needs and are experts in what it takes to attract and hire in the hotel space specifically.

Better Hiring Outcomes

By enhancing the hiring process and improving their recruitment marketing efforts, Hireology customers in the hospitality space are able to:

  • Attract more qualified candidates
  • Keep candidates engaged throughout the hiring process
  • Connect with and hire candidates faster
  • Bring on more qualified folks who can ultimately help you provide a better guest experience


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