IT'S A TOUGH GAME OUT THERE RIGHT NOW...
Welcome Reception, Hotel Riggs DC
I am pretty sure this post might get me some enemies…
I know many people will be in agreement, and will maybe even be glad that there are more of us thinking the same way and bringing up the topic; however I also know some other people might not be happy to read what’s coming and might have different feelings about it.
Just like on one or two more topics that I have on the bench - I have been debating whether or not I should publish this post, just because of the controversy it might create and the mixed responses it will most likely get.
As I have already said, however, the main purpose of my blog is for me to share my humble opinion, and therefore I think I should go ahead and voice it.
The second main purpose of my blog is for people to share ideas, feelings and frustrations back with me and with the other readers, and as such I have to accept any kind of contribution, also the ones that will be in disagreement with mine. Therefore I encourage you to read it, and should you not agree with it please go ahead and share your feedback. There might as well be a good explanation on why things are going this way, that we don’t know about and to be honest I really hope there is.
The situation during Covid-19 has been the most unexpected, tough, and uncertain I have personally experienced.
Many of us are out of a job right now, and we have absolutely no idea when our industry will recover, or what it will look like when it does.
We are online everyday scrolling through job posting after job posting on Linkedin, indeed, hcareers, glassdoor… you name it.
We are touching up our resume and cover letter, wondering if that will make a difference, brushing up all of our old contacts and desperately trying to make new ones, looking for support anywhere possible.
Hotels are closed, the few that are open are sitting on extremely low occupancy, and there are very little - if none at all - prospects for the rest of the year. We might not recover until sometime next year; until the “new normal”, there will be no groups, no conventions, no weddings, no flying, no going long distance. No guests. Which obviously means no jobs.
If you are one of us, you can agree that it is a super tough game out there, and it’s scary just as much.
The way I see it, it’s tough and scary because there are a lot of uncertainties, but also because the entire pandemic has been handled quite poorly in many aspects. This is not the space to talk about governments, health systems, bureaucracy, or any of the other poorly managed components of this global failure; I simply want to talk about what affects me and my circle directly.
If you are one of us, you will probably relate when you read some of my friends’ and colleagues’ stories below, and join me in thinking “Why is this happening?”
A few weeks ago, I caught up with my good friend who has been working in London for many years, and who also just lost her job. She told me she had been applying for many positions, however she was basically ready to give up as she was not getting a response from anyone. She then saw a posting for exactly what she was looking for, great job, great hotel, great company. And she knew someone quite big within the company who could have given her application a little push, so after applying she contacted him and asked if he could help her get the job. She was very grateful for the recommendation, and quite excited about it. Only to later find out that the recruitment for that position was completely frozen, there was no intention to fill it until who knew when, even though the listing was out and many other people were applying for it.
Also a few weeks ago, my husband (who is in the hotel business as well), experienced a very similar situation. He applied for a job that he could have done with his eyes closed: the position he had held twice before, the type of hotel was exactly like most of the hotels he has worked at in his career, and the city he had worked in already and therefore knew quite well. In normal circumstances, he would have probably been the top candidate.
Few days later, my good friend and former Director of HR, mentioned that she knew quite well who was doing the recruitment for the position and she would be happy to reach out on his behalf, and so she did. Nothing happened for many days. After hearing we had had no news whatsoever, she reached out again. Still nothing. A couple of weeks later he finally got an email. The email was a generic rejection letter from an automatic response system.
Last month, one of my ex-colleagues, also applying for jobs all over the place, got an interview for a position he was very excited about because he thought very highly about this specific company. The interview came only after one of his former colleagues (who used to work at that company) reached out to recommend him. It was with the HR Director, and it went very well. The conversation ended with the implication that there would be a second interview with the General Manager. The next day, as common practice, he sent her an email to thank her for her time, and to let her know he was very much looking forward to the next step. No response. A week later, another system generated rejection email came. Not from her, not with a personal explanation on why the famous second interview never happened, just a generic TBNT email from “the HR team”. But the story does not end. He forwarded the rejection email to the HR Director, and asked for clarification since he was supposed to have a second round - number 1, and number 2 he asked for feedback on his interview, to figure out what he could do better in the future. After almost a month, he is still waiting for her reply.
I don’t have the space to tell more stories, but I could, because I have heard so many in the past few weeks from different people and places, it’s alarming and disheartening to hear what’s happening.
Now, this is probably where some HR people and some companies might have something to say, perhaps that we do not know what is going on within the organizations, how busy they are and what they are going through, and that we should not come to conclusions without knowing.
And this is where I go back to my point above, and strongly encourage them to please tell us.
I understand worrying about reopening with all the appropriate measures to make guests and staff feel safe is very time consuming and stressful. I was part of the post-pandemic reopening plan, so I know what that entails.
I understand companies are more concerned about bringing back their current employees than investing time and energy in new ones, I would do the same.
I understand HR departments are probably receiving hundreds of resumes per position posted and it's impossible to get back to everyone.
I get it, it is a completely new situation and as for every new, it will take some time and experience to understand, adapt and handle effectively.
But have companies thought about the other side?
We are also swimming in worries and uncertainties every day. We try to stay positive, patient and faithful. But we are the ones with no work, no income, no way to pay our bills, and no prospect for our future.
Are companies aware of what we are dealing with? Let’s see..
A big percentage of the jobs that are online, are not real vacancies, in the sense that they have been posted months ago and were never taken down, or they have been filled already but they are still visible, or they were posted with the idea of being filled, but now companies have decided to freeze them. Fair enough, so why are they still online, available for people to apply, creating false hope?
When we apply for a position, we do not hear back. No email with acknowledgment of our application, no contact of any kind for many days or weeks, no personal touch whatsoever, just generic TBNT responses after ridiculously long waits. Too little too late.
For every job that is actually available, there are too many applicants, and with so many talented and qualified people out of a job, the competition pool is so huge we don’t even know who could actually be considered a suitable candidate.
If we don’t have a contact, it’s basically impossible to get an interview (or a response for that matter), and even when we do, the process is long, frustrating and humiliating.
If we miraculously manage to get to talk to someone, what comes next is again false hope, lack of follow up, lack of personal touch to the exchange.
Even if there are reasons beyond our knowledge and comprehension, companies should understand that the common perception is that they are handling recruitment extremely poorly during all this; the situation is already hard enough as it is, and the last thing we need is recruitment teams to create false hope, spread humiliation and anxiety, discount what we are worth, cause low self esteem, build frustration, and destroy our faith.
We don’t know what the future of hospitality is going to look like, if our roles will continue to exist or will be redundant and disappear, we don’t know when this will all be over, if and when we will be able to get back to that job we are so passionate about.
We are haunted by the unknown, and what we need is for the people who are lucky enough to still be working, to handle the situation in a more professional and compassionate way.
So what can you do as a company to be more compassionate and help us restore our self confidence and the confidence in our industry?
Please help us understand, because if we don’t get through this together, we never will.