reception team at luxury hotel front desk There’s a coming shortage of workers in the United States as more baby boomers retire. It could have a strong impact in the hospitality industry when it comes to recruitment.

Writing at, Susan Tinnish, Dean, School of Hospitality Management, Kendall College in Chicago, Illinois, said, “The recent economic downturn has lulled many organizations into forgetting that the United States will face a talent shortage as baby boomers approach retirement. This large cohort of employees has started or will be exiting organizations over the next few years. The birth rates of the younger generations means that companies must manage both a loss of organizational memory and implicit knowledge and also find ways to attract new workers.”

She adds, “Over the next ten years, all organizations must rethink strategies to attract talent. Thinking through the interrelated process of attracting, cultivating and configuring positive job and career experiences for Millennials will be the difference between success and failure.”

Tinnish says the hospitality industry needs to focus on three things when it comes to recruitment:

  • Attracting
  • Cultivating
  • Configuring

In terms of attracting, Tinnish says, recruiters must ensure Millennials (people born between 1982 to 2002) understand the hospitality industry; pique their interest with well-written job descriptions; brand their organization; attract them outside of recruitment; and offer content and value.

Having them understand the hospitality industry, according to Tinnish means, “Organizations must position jobs as interesting, requiring smart and talented people, opening up a world of travel, blending business skills with the ability to work with people, and offering challenging and variety work.”

A lot has been written on how to brand organizations. In the hospitality industry, from Tinnish’s perspective, that means, “Recruiting should not be viewed as only filling an open position. In today’s networked, social-media world, companies have the opportunity to create a world of followers who may someday become employees.”

She follows up that with the view that recruiting is an ongoing process, even when your company isn’t hiring. Tinnish says using various social media like Facebook and Pinterest can be a boon. “Hospitality is a sensory-rich industry; use photos, images, color to attract new potential employees by giving them an opportunity to easily get to know your company, your locations, your amenities and other enticing details,” she advises.

Cultivating means awakening the Millennials’ interest in the job. “Sell candidates on why they should join what the Millennial’s career progression will be, and most importantly, translate how the Millennial will make an impact on not just the company, but the world,” Tinnish says.

Two steps that must be taken with Millennials is a quick response to their applications and follow ups after interviews (because they were raised on instant feedback) and inviting them to spend time in the environment where they will be working if hired. “This technique offers them a realistic view of the opportunity. It sends a message of transparency, which is important to this group of young people,” Tinnish explains.

Configuring, even though third on Tinnish’s list, can be the most important of three facets. She says, “[W]hen jobs are configured in an appealing way for Millennials, organizations will have tangible, real ways to attract and cultivate Millennials.”

These young recruits, many of whom have little work experience, seek a work environment that is less hierarchical and less focused on enforcing policy. Tinnish observes, “While they want access to decision-makers, they blossom in environments which foster freedom and empowerment. This also requires that managers do not rely on their own experience as a point of reference of how to manage and develop Millennials.”

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