Break into the hospitality industry

It’s Hospitality Month in Washington! Here’s some great advice from our partners at

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Whether you’re looking for accounting jobs or event-planning jobs, there’s a place for you in the hospitality industry.

“People looking to break into the hospitality industry need to know there are two sides of it, one is the operational side — which is really front-line work — and the other side is corporate,” says Jonathan Galaviz, chief economist for Galaviz & Company, a Las Vegas-based travel and leisure consulting firm. Though most of us think of food service, meeting/event planning and guest services when we think of hospitality jobs, there’s plenty of opportunity on the business side, too. “On the corporate side, there are tremendous opportunities to get involved with international expansion, market analysis and strategy work,” Galaviz says.

No matter what side of the industry interests you, here are some expert tips for breaking into hospitality.

Sell Yourself

“The mentality of hiring managers is that everyone is or can be competent at entry-level tasks,” says Brian Meissner, owner/operator of El Diablo Tranquilo, a boutique hostel and restaurant in Punta Diablo, Uruguay, that recruits internationally to fill 24 seasonal internships and rotating management positions. “Sell yourself. Know what sets you apart, what makes you worth bringing into the fold. People who describe their travels with fire, people who are foodies and remember a special dish — those are people whose own experiences resonate.

” You’ll also stand out if you have a vision for your hospitality career. “The biggest mistake candidates make is that they don’t clearly define what their long-term objectives are,” Galaviz says. “For some reason, many new professionals enter the hospitality industry because they think it will be fun, but in reality, it’s a very serious business behind the scenes. A long-term strategic plan for what they want to be and how to get there is critical.”

Understand the Ladder

Most people who rise to top hospitality management positions started out in entry-level jobs like dishwashing, technical support or accounts payable. “These entry-level positions are important because they build character and give you an opportunity to see the business from the ground up,” says Lara Weiss, global director of sales for K Hotels International, a Los Angeles-based marketing and sales organization for independent hotels and inns worldwide.

Megan Arellano entered the industry as a guest-services coordinator at the Houstonian hotel in Houston. Within six months, she was promoted to group sales supervisor. Today, she’s the assistant manager of Trellis, the hotel’s spa. Each step gave her the experience to reach the management level. “For any position, always know that there is more to a job than what you see on the surface,” she says.

If you’re short on experience, you’re not necessarily out of the running for hospitality jobs, Weiss says. “Prior experience is dependent upon what type of work and division you want to go into,” she says. “Hotels, in particular larger brands, will spend the time necessary to get you trained and set you on a path, mainly because of the large infrastructure. If you are joining a smaller boutique-type organization, having experience is really important. Because it is smaller, you may be thrown in and expected to do a number of tasks and wear a lot of hats.”

So why not get started on your hospitality career? Employment in the sector is doing well and most companies are hiring for many positions.


Hospitality Careers Overview

Hospitality careers are for those who enjoy playing the host. Food service and lodging managers are responsible for making sure guests at restaurants and hotels have a satisfying experience with their meal or their accommodations. Both types of hospitality careers are responsible for managing the daily operations of the establishment including overseeing staff, reviewing budgets and ensuring guests’ comfort and satisfaction. The hours can be long; hotels are essentially 24-hour businesses and restaurants are often open long hours and on weekends, so don’t plan on a nine to five, 40-hour work week.

Hospitality Education

Hospitality jobs typically require at least a high school diploma and extensive on-the-job experience. Larger restaurants and hotels may require their managers to have a bachelor’s degree in business management, and some restaurants may prefer that their managers have post-secondary training in the culinary field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hospitality management is now offered by many universities.

Hospitality Job Market

Although population growth is expected to increase the demand for food and lodging services, companies are consolidating supervisor and managerial positions, streamlining hospitality jobs to keep budgets under control. That’s why hospitality careers are projected to see slow growth in comparison to other jobs over the next 10 years. Food service managers are expected to only go up two percent, from 321,400 in 2012 to 326,500 by 2022, and the 50,400 lodging manager jobs reported in 2012 may only see a one percent increase to 51,100 by 2022.

Hospitality Salaries

[Nationwide] salaries in the hospitality industry are fairly good, right in the neighborhood of the upper $40,000 range. Lodging managers average $46,810 annually for their full-time work. Food service managers make just a bit more with a $47,960 median annual salary, although the BLS notes that special food services managers earn $54,210 on the average.

Content for this article can be found at

Join us for the 2016 Olympia Economic Symposium: Washington’s Gig Economy

Experts in business and economics will share their perspectives about Washington’s workforce needs in today’s labor market at the Employment Security Department’s annual economic symposium.

Designed for researchers, economists, policymakers, education professionals, workforce development experts, employers and those who use high-level data to make informed decisions, this half-day symposium will feature a special keynote on the gig economy.

The gig economy—also known as the on-demand economy— is an environment where temporary employees or freelancers offer paid services to individuals or organizations. A recent study by Intuit predicts 43 percent of the workforce will be engaged in this type of work by 2020.

Keynote Speaker: Washington’s Gig Economy
Dr. Michael Horrigan, Ph.D., Associate Commissioner
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment and Unemployment Programs

State of the state’s labor market

  • Western Washington:
    Scott Bailey, Regional Labor Market Economist
    Labor Market and Performance Analysis
  • Eastern Washington:
    Doug Tweedy, Regional Labor Market Economist
    Labor Market and Performance Analysis

New and improved labor market information website
Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Regional Labor Market Economist
Labor Market and Performance Analysis

Agenda and other details in the symposium brochure.

When: 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. The event is free. Seating is limited so register by Oct. 26, 2016 to reserve your seat!

Where:  Department of Labor and Industries Central Office Building, 7273 Linderson Way SW, Tumwater, Washington 98501. Our brochure has directions, map and parking information.

To register:    Ann Leal, registration coordinator,; 360-407-4541.


ESD has new labor market web information and tools, including a video tutorial to showcase popular information and data.

Contact a regional economist:

County profiles:

Synergy at WorkSource Central Basin helps homeless veterans

By Luis Torres, WorkSource Central Basin

Within minutes and fewer than 20 footsteps, veterans seeking help at WorkSource Central Basin can receive life-changing support.


Jennifer Semanko and Luis Torres surround brothers Yancarlo and Alex, taking a moment to enjoy their success at getting these veterans into stable housing.

On any given day, you can visit this WorkSource office and find Jennifer Semanko and me speaking over cubicle walls, strategizing about customers who need our support. We have become a formidable team, battling homelessness among veterans. Our goal is to achieve “functional zero” in Grant and Adams counties, which is as close as you can get to eliminating homelessness. We’re accomplishing it by embracing the “housing first” philosophy, which maintains that having stable housing is a prerequisite for getting a job.

Jennifer works for HopeSource, a WorkSource partner organization. She specializes in housing veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. I work for the Employment Security Department (ESD) as a Disabled Veterans Outreach Program case manager, helping veterans with significant barriers to employment to become job ready.

Since September 2015, Jennifer and I have helped 47 veterans come out of homelessness, move into their own house or apartment, or helped them keep their current housing. Eighteen of the 47 also received case management services to overcome their barriers and return to work.

Brothers Yancarlo and Alex Figueroa are two combat veterans who came to WorkSource for help in their job search. After I spent some time with them, I determined that these two young men needed housing.

“I could live in the woods if I had to,” said Yancarlo, and Alex said, “I could dig a foxhole if needed.” True, their training had prepared them for either. But I told them HopeSource and Employment Security could help them, and we did. Twenty-two days after stepping into WorkSource Central Basin, the brothers now share an apartment and are aggressively looking for work!

We’re not always that fast. Currently, Jennifer can enroll and find housing for a veteran in approximately 54 days.  But Yancarlo and Alex are good examples of how we help our customers by working together. Our proximity and collaboration allows us to assess our customers, then guide and deliver the veteran to the other. The veterans build a strong rapport with us as we provide access to housing and support from other partner organizations.

HopeSource works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Administration (HUD-VA) Supportive Housing Program, which is a joint effort between HUD and the VA to move veterans and their families out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

HopeSource also helps with emergency housing and money for rent, deposits, utilities, child care, rental arrears, vehicle repairs, clothing, tools for work and basic household items. Where Jennifer’s program drops off, others pick up. The Grant County Housing Authority helps find landlords willing to rent to our target population. The Grant County Veterans Coalition provides support with food, gas, utilities and other services.

Once our customers are housed, we start helping them overcome other barriers, such as substance abuse. Once again, we work within the case management system and the network of organizations developed though community outreach.

The ultimate goal is to prepare veterans for employment — like Employment Security’s vision statement says — “the right job for each person, every time.” I believe our work is an example of “being the bridge” — the phrase ESD’s Commissioner Dale Peinecke uses to describe our work connecting job seekers to jobs and training.

Author Luis Torres works at WorkSource Central Basin in Moses Lake.


Local Area Monthly Summary: January 2016

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

Ajsa Suljic, Regional Labor Economist
Tel: 509-734-5928 or Email:

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added 4,600 new nonfarm jobs, on a preliminary, not seasonally adjusted basis, from January 2015 to January 2016. The local unemployment rate, at 8.4 percent, increased from a December 2015 revised rate of 7.8 percent and decreased from a January 2015 revised rate of 9.0 percent by six-tenths of a percent each, respectively, according to the estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS).

The Benton County unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, while the Franklin County unemployment rate was 10.1 percent in January 2016.

The state’s unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent, the same as revised employment rate for December 2015 and the same as one year ago in January 2015. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.9 percent for January 2016.

The labor force expanded in January for Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metro and across Washington state. The resident labor force rose from 127,714 people in January 2015 to nearly 131,621 in January 2016, which is a 3.1 percent increase over-the-year. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland MSA’s unemployed workforce increased to 10,994 in January 2016. The Employment Security Department paid unemployment insurance benefits to 4,842 unemployed residents in amount of $5.5 million.

The two-county area nonfarm employment has increased year-over-year for 34 consecutive months. January’s nonfarm growth was higher by 4.5 percent or 4,600 jobs when compared to the same time in 2015.

New job growth was driven by industries across the spectrum including: administrative and support services, food services, retail trade, private education and healthcare services, manufacturing, and financial activities.

When we look at the cluster of industries in trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities, we can see growth of 1,000 jobs over-the-year. However, the majority of that growth was coming from retail trade, which grew by 600 new jobs. Most of this growth reflects the continuous expansion of retail trade offerings throughout the many cities in this two county area.

Other industries that had job expansions over the year include:

  • Administrative and Support Services (800);
  • Food Services (600);
  • Government (600);
  • Manufacturing (400);
  • Private Education and Healthcare Services (400);
  • Accommodation Services (200);
  • Financial Services (200); and
  • Professional and Technical Services (100).

The construction industry job offerings were unchanged over-the-year in January 2016.

For more details you can call 509-734-5928 or email at



Tidbits and beignets: Unemployment benefits vary (a lot!) across the nation

By Chad Pearson, Employment Security Department Communications Office

Beignets and jazz are traditional in Louisiana culture, but if you want to overdose on either of them and you’re receiving unemployment benefits, you’d be better off buying them in Boston than in New Orleans. That’s because Massachusetts provides up to four times the amount of weekly benefits than Louisiana.

dataThose who like to nerd out with lots of statistics and information might enjoy the newest comparison report of unemployment agencies released by the U.S. Department of Labor this week. In all, the report compares unemployment data from 53 agencies from all the states, Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. I was surprised at how differently each agency handles unemployment benefits.

  • Tidbit 1: If you are going to be unemployed, hope that you worked in the northeast part of the U.S.

    Massachusetts weekly benefits are almost five times larger than Louisiana’s: $1,047 vs. $284, and the two states represent the highest and lowest benefits in the country. In Washington, the weekly benefit maximum in 2014 was $637. (Currently it’s $664.)

  • Tidbit 2: Short-time compensation programs, such as Washington’s Shared Work Program, can be used only sparingly in some states.

    Wisconsin allows employers to use the program only for six months in any five-year period. This makes Wisconsin the most difficult state in which to use program if an employer has an extended layoff. Some states, including Washington, have no restrictions on how often it is used.

  • Tidbit 3: Federal unemployment benefits were extended for the longest time ever during the Great Recession.
    Unemployment compensation was 100 percent federally financed for a record 67 months ending in January 2014 — almost twice as long as the previous record of 36 months ending in 1978.

    Plus, it surprised me that since the inception of the Special Federal Extension program in 1958, now named Emergency Unemployment Compensation, funds have been available more than a third of the years between 1958 and 2015.

Since all the agencies that administer unemployment insurance programs are independent and subject to changes by local lawmakers, they vary hugely across America. Read the report to see how Washington is helping the unemployed and what it’s like to be out of work in the other parts of the nation.

chad-pearsonAuthor Chad Pearson is the Shared Work marketing manager in the Communications Office.