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Growing Your Hospitality Career Up - Part 1

By Kathleen Hogan, MBA
November 1, 2010

Remember your eagerness at the start of your hospitality career to “make your mark”?  Your enthusiasm for working in your chosen field was high along with your confidence in all the possibilities of the future.  Your drive to succeed was strong.  That enthusiasm, confidence and drive were and still are your internal motivators. 
It is likely that you will or have already felt those high levels of enthusiasm, confidence and drive diminish with time and circumstances.  There are steps you can take to reset those internal motivators and grow your career with upward mobility.  The first step is recognizing your responsibility in building your career.  Rather than leaving your career path to chance, take control by becoming proactive in setting its course.  Take constructive action steps to rekindle those internal motivators and jump start your career.
The September 2010 issue of the Chief Learning Officer magazine had an article, Real Leadership:  The Meaning Behind Motivation by Graham Jones, that addressed the need for motivating yourself inside and out with a wonderful story. The story illuminates the importance of motivational balance.
If you feel you may have lost your edge, recognize the value in continuous learning.  Learning, like your career, is a life-long journey, compelling each of us to learn more, adjust our thinking, refresh our passion, and update our skill sets in order to grow, thrive and contribute value. 
Make it a habit to read 1 book about people in hospitality and/or business who have become successful in the area of your choice.  Do this for each of the next 6 months and note how your horizons have expanded.  Use many different sources and venues (books, magazines, social media, online services, etc.) when gathering information to limit biased perspectives.
Seek out additional training opportunities to build upon or enhance your existing skill sets.
Learn new skills.
There are many hospitality industry certificates and certifications available to those who want to build upon their knowledge base, CV expertise and career experience.  Which certifications should be pursued is dependent on your area of focus and career goals.
Certificates are very good stepping stones at the start of your career and may be earned much faster than certifications, which often require 2 to 5 years tenure in the same position. 
For example, the Educational Institutes of the AH&LA (American Hotel & Lodging Association) and the National Restaurant Association offer certifications for administrators, educators, operators and suppliers in the hospitality industry.  Search and find other sources of advanced certificates and certifications as part of advancing your career. Many hospitality professionals hold more than one certification.
There are certain exercises you can do to be better prepared and keep your career on track.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis annually
  • Set short and long range goals
  • Identify your Motivational DNA
SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Performing a  SWOT analysis is a standard tool used in business for measuring where a company is in relation to its business goals, competition, and future direction.  The individual can effectively use the same tool in both their personal and career life.
Perform your own SWOT Analysis to establish a baseline measure of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as of today. This exercise brings into focus areas that may need more work, require additional education, certifications or skills, and those areas of strength that may afford you an advantage to build upon.

One way to identify your strengths is through the Strengths Finder bookby Tom Rath and  its  accompanying online test, which lists and prioritizes your strengths.  Knowing your strengths may reveal more possibilities for positions not previously considered, and the type of work environment most suitable for you.  This knowledge may alter the direction you take in choosing who and where to work, doing what.             
When you repeat the SWOT analysis annually, a career tracking and timeline begins to appear, which helps define your accomplishments and set (or reset) the future direction of your career path.  Performing a SWOT analysis lends itself to setting career goals.
Part two will provide continued action steps in setting goals and identifying motivators to advance your career.

Kathleen Hogan, MBA is Co-Founder and Publisher of  She has a background in management, banking, and finance with a Master’s Degree concentration in Human Resources Management.  In addition, Kathleen is a hospice volunteer in Phoenix, Arizona, where she currently resides.


 Kathleen Hogan, MBA

Also See: From the Chalkboard to the Front Line - Blending Academics with Hospitality Internship Programs / Kathleen Hogan / October 2010

Luxury Hotels on Italy's Lake Como Provide Intensive 3 Month Internships for Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management Students / January 2007

Test Driving” New Co-Workers Through Internships / Denise Moretti and Kathryn Phelps / February 2006

The University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management Provides Students with Intership Opportunities All Over the World; Gives Students Advantage When it Comes to Competing for Industry Jobs / August 2007


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