Can a job candidate with exceptional analytical skills set him/her apart from the sea of applicants? Furthermore, will good analytical skills be able to help people advance their career?
According to Julie Martin, the Controller and Director of Operations at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center¹:
Analytical skills are very important. Sometimes, it equals to “smart” even though there are smart people who might not have good analytical skills. … People with good analytical skills will be able to present their arguments with numbers and facts, which makes their statements more convincing. … Besides “numbers,” analytical skills can also be referred to a person’s ability of analyzing a complex issue and identifying the possible solutions to the problem(s).
Julie’s words remind me a qualitative study of mine in 2011, in which I asked a group of hospitality recruiters: “What intellectual skills are important in hiring a hospitality senior? Why are they important?” Analytical skills and problem solving skills were mentioned by a few recruiters. They expected college graduates must understand numbers and are able to solve business issues on their own.
I agree. Analytical skills are extremely important, no matter if we are working in a business or a not-for-profit organization. The bottom line is every organization must operate in a budget. Without the ability of generating incomes and controlling expenses, no operations can sustain. As a result, if we want to be a leader of some sort, we must understand how to make informed decisions with supporting data and rational reasons.
Have you ever worked with someone who possesses above-average analytical skills? Does this person look smart to you? Do you prefer to work with this person over others with below-average analytical skills? Why or why not? To think deeper, how can a person develop his/her analytical skills?
1. I invited Julie Martin to speak in my Hotel and Resort Operations class last week. I interpret our conversation based on my notes; Julie might not have said those sentences word by word.
There are millions of unemployed workers who are eager to find a job. Yet, there are companies still finding it difficult to fill vacancies. What is going on? Is it possible that we are not educating or training the labor force with the right skill sets that meet the society’s needs? Is it because employers are finding it challenging to screen the enormous amount of applicants for every vacant position?
According to this Wall Street Journal interview with Peter Cappelli, a Wharton School professor, there might be another possibility — employers now have a different level of expectations. In my interpretation, employers are probably expecting too much from job candidates.
Some employers, for example, no longer want to invest in new hires. In the old times, employers were usually willing to hire candidates with good attitude and great leadership potential. Then, they would train new hires the technical skills needed at work and even let them spend time adjusting to the new organizational culture. Now, employers would rather let others do the training for them by hiring a well-established candidate who has had substantial experience in the field. They want to hire someone who can plug in and do the job immediately. In addition, employers also expect new hires to do more by adding new requirements and responsibilities, making few candidates qualified for the position. If a position is not filled, the work can be done by other employees and thus, save more labor costs.
While this new hiring practice may help employers save money in the short term, I argue that it may cost more in the long term for a company and the society as a whole. I believe that job searching and hiring-selection is a fair game. While employers are selecting the best fit candidate, job seekers are also looking for the best fit boss. If an employer does not want to invest in new hires, why would any new hire want to invest in the employer or even feel committed to the job? Furthermore, if we look at the big picture (e.g. in the industrial level), since no one is willing to train or develop new hires, companies will end up fighting with each other for the same group of talent who has already felt less committed to their employers. One company’s gain becomes another company’s lost. Retention management and external recruits will become more expensive and difficult, which would eventually offset the training and development cost being saved.
What do you think? Is it a good strategy for a company to hire a candidate who is already doing the job in another company, or to hire someone with the right background and potential and then develop the new hires?
For job seekers, of course, it is important to understand employers’ new expectations. In addition, they may need to spend more effort and time on job search.
The cartoon was downloaded from CartoonStock.com
I Heard Professionalism, Maturity, Passion, and Leadership in My Interview with Ms. Britney Bubrowski
Last Thursday, I invited Ms. Britney Bubrowski to speak in my HR class. Britney graduated from college in 2008. She started her career as a HR Coordinator for a hotel before she moved up to the HR Manager and Director of HR position. Very recently, she accepted an offer from The Widewaters Group and became the company’s Corporate HR Manager of Hospitality. Britney has such an impressive career path. I wonder: what are her secrets for success?
Coincidentally, Britney pointed out two important factors: professionalism and maturity. Accordingly to Britney, it is important to maintain a professional relationship with the co-workers at work and have the level of maturity when dealing with work-related issues. I remember that not long ago in my other guest speaker sessions, the Director of HR at the Sheraton Syracuse University suggested that “maturity,” “flexibility,” and “personal branding” could be vital to a person’s career; another HR professional working in a soft-drink and beverage company emphasized the importance of “professionalism” at work. Is it just so happened that everyone echoes each other? Or is it a testimonial that professionalism and maturity are crucial in the work place? I believe they are critical for anyone’s success. Do you agree?
Being a corporate HR manager, Britney is heavily involved in the recruiting and selection process for hotel executives. She mentioned that she received many applications and that many candidates seemed well-qualified for the positions based on what was written on their resumes. I then asked her what makes a candidate stand out from the crowd. She told me that she would look for “passion” and “leadership” in the interviewing process, i.e. the passion for the hospitality industry, the passion for what s/he is doing, being able to motivate others, and being able to motivate him/herself. Once again, I agree with her 100% because I also “coincidentally” discussed the importance of leadership skills and passion before.
The class and I truly enjoyed our conversation with Ms. Britney Bubrowski. As always, she presented some very useful information. Do you find today’s discussion helpful? According to your experience, what factors can contribute to a person’s success? What advice will you give for those who are preparing for a professional career?
Last month, I shared a Fox News video, in which Tim Zagat, the Co-Founder & CEO of Zagat Survey, discussed why it is not a good time to open a restaurant. Today’s discussion is also inspired by an interview of Tim Zagat. In this ABC News video, Tim once again informed us how difficult it is to run a restaurant business; today’s discussion, however, will focus on the “traits” of the “30 under 30” — what makes these 30 young entrepreneurs/professionals succeed in restaurant business?
According to Zagat, years of work experience in the restaurant industry contributes the most to their success. They are top because they know what they are doing and they can do things well. Many of them started working in restaurants even when they were teens.
I must agree with Zagat that relevant work experience is crucial to a hospitality career. I conducted a qualitative study and a quantitative study about the important factors affecting a hospitality student’s employability upon graduation. My research findings reveal basically the same results. In addition to relevant work experience, what other skills a successful restaurant entrepreneur must have?
If you are a “food” person and enjoy cooking, have you ever considered pursuing a culinary career in K-12 schools? Over the years, foodservice operations in K-12 schools have changed dramatically. Even before the $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act” was announced, I already felt very impressed by the foodservice operations in Dallas and Austin school districts when I toured the managed services accounts there in 2007. Managing a K-12 account is challenging, demanding, and rewarding.
Foodservice managers in K-12 segment are required to follow applicable nutritional restrictions and provide healthy food with low fat, low sodium, and fresh ingredients. On top of that, cost control is extremely important. As suggested in this New York Times video, K-12 schools in New York City must serve a lunch under the cost of $2.67 (meal + labor). Managers are expected to design a non-repeatable menu with eye-appealing and tasty food because kids can also be very demanding.
If you are a hospitality student or professional with an F&B background, will you consider working in the K-12 segment? Why or why not? If you are a recruiter for a managed services company, what are the challenges do you experience when recruiting candidates for the K-12 segment? What are your strategies in attracting young talents?
To watch the New York Times video, you may visit the following hyperlink: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/03/05/nyregion/100000000700483/city-critic-school-lunches.html