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Hospitality Opportunities for Older Workers

Hospitality Opportunities for Older Workers

If you're an older worker seeking an industry that values your work and life experience while offering flexible hours, perks and an abundance of opportunities, give some serious thought to working in hospitality.

The AARP proposes that positions as tour guides and greeters are well-suited for older workers. Take a look at the following advantages of working in hospitality as an older worker to see if this might be an option for you.

Senior-Friendly Workplaces

In an atmosphere filled with senior travelers, it makes sense for employers to bring older workers onto their teams. Some companies, including Disney, McDonald's and Marriott, are doing just that with initiatives to help mature workers find gainful employment.

For example, Experience Works, a national, nonprofit organization that provides training and employment services for older workers, recognized Marriott Guest Services as an outstanding employer for older workers in 2003. The company increased the percentage of workers 50 years and older to nearly 9 percent of its workforce. Marriott is also actively involved in its Salt Lake City headquarters' local Senior Employment Council, which connects businesses and older workers. The company's recruiting team conducts mock interviews for older workers and helps them with the job search process.

Experience Wanted

If you have customer-service experience, you may already have an advantage over your competitors. Lynne Newton, director of food and beverage for the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel in Waltham, Massachusetts, tries to hire the most experienced personnel she can find. "I look for people who are able to deal with difficult customers," she says. Employees develop strong customer-service skills as they gain experience and maturity, she adds.

Nontraditional Work Hours

Whether you're a night owl or an early riser, you're likely to find a job that fits your schedule. Shirley Fitzpatrick, director of human resources for Doubletree, hires personnel for shifts that start as early as 6:30 a.m., as well as for shifts that end at midnight. Overnights and weekend work are also available in this business.

Perks

You may not get rich working in this industry, but you won't go home hungry. DeMicco says many restaurants provide meals for employees. "And on the lodging side, the perks may include reduced rates on brand hotels, which is a plus for those looking to travel," he says.

Tips for Breaking In

DeMicco advises older job seekers to do their homework before applying at a restaurant or hotel. Follow these guidelines:

  • Ask potential employers about the physical demands of positions you are considering. Many jobs entail standing on your feet for long hours or heavy lifting. 
     
  • Visit the potential workplace to get a sense of how the employers treat their workers. "If the restaurant or hotel has not fostered an age-friendly environment, some managers may hold stereotypes towards older workers," warns DeMicco. "But laws mandate against age discrimination, and HR is training in this area." 
     
  • Dine or stay at the restaurants or lodging establishments you are considering to work for and size them up firsthand, suggests DeMicco. If your experience is good, you are more likely to enjoy working there.
     
  • "Go to career and job fairs in the communities, or where colleges and universities have career fairs and meet with hospitality recruiters," he says. This will help you get a better understanding of who is hiring, and will also help you determine which environment may be right for you.

Nothing's Perfect

Going for a position in hospitality as an older worker may have its downsides. For instance, you may have to take direction from people who aren't experienced with dealing with seasoned personnel. Furthermore, you may not receive the same opportunities as younger coworkers, because many employers wrongfully assume older workers are nearing retirement and are not interested in taking on new projects.

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