Career Change from Hospitality in 7 Practical Steps

39% of hospitality front of house staff leave within the first 90 days. The process of transitioning career can be overwhelming, but it can be a positive experience with the appropriate information. There are numerous career choices accessible to you as a professional with experience in the Hospitality industry. However, you might be asking what steps you need to take to change careers.

To change careers from hospitality, you will need to get qualified in your newly chosen path after examining alternate careers for hospitality professionals. Consider speaking to professionals with a similar background. Then, build foundational knowledge to gain breadth in your chosen profession. Take inventory of transferable skills, acquire new work experience and update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Employees rate the hospitality industry as one of the worst for work-life balance, according to data collected by Glassdoor, an employment platform. This article digs into the practical steps which you can take to transition to a new, successful career out of your current employment as a hospitality professional.

Let’s begin!

Step 1. Research Alternate Careers for A Hospitality Worker and Decide on One.

If you’ve chosen to leave the hospitality sector, the first thing you should do is analyze why you’re considering making this transition.

Understanding what you dislike about your current job will assist you in determining what you should search for in a new one.

When looking for a new job, it’s crucial to ask yourself, “Why am I looking for a new job?” Answering this question can help you put the reasons you don’t want to work in the hospitality sector into perspective.

After you’ve identified the aspects of working in hospitality that you dislike, you can start making a list of what you’re looking for in a new job.

Try asking yourself;

  • Do I really want to leave the hospitality industry?
  • Why do I want to leave?
  • Will a promotion or pay raise make me stay?
  • Am I just looking for stability?

Now that you’ve asked yourself these personal questions, it’s time to ask some more career based questions.

  • What type of work-life balance are you looking for?
  • Are you interested in career advancement opportunities?
  • What income range are you hoping for?

Now that you know your wants and needs the next step is researching what careers are out there to choose from. 

If you already have a specific career in mind then the best thing to do is see how your skills and experience working in hospitality match up to this new career you’re hoping for. This requires a lot of research on your part, you’re going to need to look for the requirements that a career requires.

A great way to do this is by searching that job, for example “customer service representative” on job hosting websites like indeed, Linkedln or monster and compiling a list of the common candidate requirements they require. 

If you don’t have a specific new career in mind, here is a list of common jobs that former customer service reps have successfully moved on to. Let’s take a look at some of them;

  • Customer Service Representative
  • Bank Teller
  • Sales Associate
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Receiving Clerk
  • Case Management
  • Healthcare Assistant
  • Social Worker
  • Counsellor

Step 2. Speak to Other Professionals With Similar Backgrounds.

It’s critical to take advantage of any networking possibilities available when pursuing a new career. It’s a good idea to talk to other professionals who have comparable backgrounds to you.

This is important because a career change is a big decision and having someone you can be open with and who can possibly mentor you around any challenges you may face really makes all the difference.

Think about it, a former hospitality worker will have a more personal experience about the hardships you might face compared to a random google search. Additionally, someone who has successfully attempted what it is you’re trying to do will have much more knowledge on the best options to choose and the best way to go about things.

Communicating with both your personal and professional networks is a great way to get in touch with professionals who have a similar background. You can discuss your career interests with them, enabling them to connect you with possible opportunities.

Colleagues and previous colleagues can act as your professional network while friends and family can be your more personal network.

Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to only previous hospitality workers. Professionals from the field you plan to transition to can be very helpful to, they’ll have better insights into what job requirements in the field are and what additional education or training you may need to stand out to employers.

You can find professionals in any field by reaching out to them through professional networking websites like Linkedln.

Step 3. Get Qualified and Build Foundational Knowledge

Building foundational knowledge on the skills and traits you’ll need to be successful in your new career should be the next step in your action plan. For example, being a customer service representative involves a lot of problem solving and effective communication.

 A person that’s interested in pursuing a customer service career should ask themselves if they are any good at either of those things and if they’re not they need to learn these skills fast.

How does this apply to you and a career change?

Unless you’re not actually changing careers, the odds that you’ll find a new career with requirements and experience that exactly match those that you’re bringing from hospitality is very low. This is where building your foundational knowledge and getting qualified comes in.

Let’s picture it. Imagine a hospitality worker trying to transition into a Social Worker or Case Management role. The role will require soft skills sure, but it will also require some technical certifications or qualifications.

The Hospitality worker can build on their foundational knowledge by researching what the requirements to be a successful caseworker are (this can be done by looking through the candidate requirements for social worker job listings) and then set out to achieve them. 

I recommend starting with Udemy. It’s an online platform with lots of courses from professionals with good experience in them. Its also a very cheap to start building foundational knowledge.

Building basic knowledge in the field you want to work in and matching your abilities, experience, and qualifications with the requirements can get you ready for your new job.

Step 4. Identify and Package your Transferrable Skills

Before moving forward with your career change, the next helpful tip we have for you is to stop and take a moment to look back on the skills you have that allowed you to excel as a hospitality worker or even the skills you picked up while working as one.

Ask yourself what skills come easily and naturally to you. For example, working in hospitality probably means you’re good at interacting with customers of different backgrounds, multi-tasking, and great at working with a team.

You may also have performed other minor job responsibilities like following up with clients and customers, entering and organizing data into spreadsheets, performing inventory checks, or even working with specific software and programs to keep records.

These talents and skills of yours can easily act as selling points for other careers that may require them.

Let’s look at easily transferrable skills that hospitality workers can use in other professions.

  • Communication skills: whether it’s written or verbal, communication is a skill that’s needed in every field. Being able to correspond with clients, superiors, colleagues is important and is a soft skill that a lot of hospitality workers possess.
  • Problem Solving Skills: Hospitality workers normally face situations where they have to interact with people from different backgrounds in order to properly help them fulfill their requests. Employers appreciate employees that can handle difficult situations properly even when under pressure.
  • Resilience: Hospitality workers deal with a fair share of problematic clients and situations, this helps them develop thick skin. Sales are another example of a profession where thick skin is needed to be able to deal with rejection and disappointment.
  • Customer Service: Part of being a hospitality worker is interacting with customers to help them meet their needs and make them happy. Customer service sills will definitely help in a role where you also have to communicate and interact with customers.
  • Empathy: Hospitality workers often have to understand what their guests may need or want in order to properly help them. The ability to empathize with customers, understand their problems and tailor solutions to fit their needs are skills that can easily be transferred to a new career.
  • Teamwork, determination, attention to detail and adaptability are some other skills that hospitality workers often develop from working in demanding work environments.

Highlighting any of the transferrable skills you have in a cover letter or resume when applying for a job will help to emphasize your suitability for the job and help hiring managers to see you as a strong candidate.

Step 5. Evaluate and Reframe Your Work Experience

Evaluating and reframing your work experience in the next step in transitioning from hospitality to other careers. This is important because you will definitely have learned a lot from your experience working in hospitality. They are not wasted!

You need to evaluate your work experience by asking yourself how your performance at work aligns with the new career you’re pursuing after.

Some questions to ask are what tasks did you perform strongly at work? Are these tasks relevant to the new position you’re looking into? What did you achieve doing those tasks?

A good way to carry out your evaluation is by identifying all the relevant tasks and activities you carried out while working in hospitality and analyzing them to see which ones can count as experience in your new field.

Why should you evaluate your work experience?

Evaluating your work experience helps to put in perspective what you learned on the job and how these may fit into your new career. But more importantly, it makes it easier to reframe your experience to present yourself as the perfect candidate for a job.

There’s a good chance you will not have all the qualifications and requirements listed on job postings. But even if you’re only a “partial” match for the listing that doesn’t mean you should give up.

Reframing your work experience even when you do not have some of the desired requirements can help justify and amplify your skills to make you a good fit for the position.

For example, if an employer is looking for a customer service representative, you may never have worked as one but as a hospitality worker, you may have had experience interacting with guests and tailoring solutions to their needs.

You can point out how your experience handling guests is similar to what customer service representatives do and show how valuable this experience will be for the role.

Justifying the lack of skill or qualification may not be easy, but reframing your work experience to make up for the skill you do not directly have can easily sway an employer in your favor.

Step 6. Acquire New Work Experience.

Just like gaining new qualifications or certifications can help when transitioning to a new career, gaining actual work experience is also very important.

Unless you’re planning to start at an entry-level position, a lot of jobs will require you to have some form of experience including entry level jobs in some cases.

Knowledge is valuable, and some even consider it to be powerful. But I always go on to add that it’s the application of knowledge, not the information itself, that gives you power.

Employers aren’t just interested in what you’ve learned. They’re looking for examples of how you’ve used your knowledge to add value.

You’ll need appropriate job experience for the role you’re applying for to show you have knowledge that can add value.

Some ways to acquire new work experience include;

  • Volunteering with an organization: One way to get more work experience is by volunteering for professionals in the new field you hope to work in. You can connect with professionals using professional networking sites like Linkedln. Not only will this help you build your resume but it will help you develop your skills while building new networks.
  • Working on other company projects: Another way to gain more work experience is by volunteering to work and help out on related projects going on at your current company.

    For example, if you’re hoping to transition to a Human Resource role, you can volunteer to help the team leads or floor managers at your workplace with some of their duties.
  • Work on side projects: In the evenings after work, you can spend your time working on side projects that can help you pad up your work portfolio. You can even offer your services to small non-profits or local community centres in line with your new career.

Remember experience can come in so many different forms and acquiring new work experience will not only look good on your resume but it will also give you an inner look into the industry you may be working in in the future.

Step 7. Update Your Professional Brand Assets.

Changing your line of work will most likely require you to change and fine tune the way you present yourself professionally. Reviewing your CV, personal websites, and Linkedln profile can go a long way in making your career change experience smoother.

Personal branding is all about marketing yourself and attracting recruiters and more job opportunities for you. Some good paces to start are;

  • Your CV: Highlighting your skills and experience on your resume in a way that fits the new career options you’re looking into is important. Make sure your CV is up to date and includes your most recent and relevant professional experience.

    If you’ve gotten more work experience, qualifications or training make sure to add them to your CV.
  • Your Linkedln Profile: Your Linkedln profile is one of the first places that a hiring manager will check; this means it’s important to match the information on your CV to that on your Linkedln profile. As someone moving into a new career it’s also important to let recruiters know that you’re open for hiring and looking for new opportunities.

Optimize the headline section of your profile by listing major skills that will be required in your new profession. Also optimize the summary section of your profile by highlighting your work experience, certifications, technical skills and expertise.

  • Your Personal Websites: This is a little extra but your personal websites is the best way to really stand out, tell your story and showcase your personality. It is your home online and you can make it whatever you want without sticking to strict rules like with CVs and Linkedin.

Bonus Tip: Take Action.

Now that you have an action plan, the only thing left is for you to actually get up and start using it. Prioritize yourself and your future by investing your time and energy into making this career change work for you.

Don’t treat your career change as an afterthought once you’ve decided on it, be committed and dedicated to turning it into a reality. Motivate yourself, and surround yourself with people who will also push you to achieve your dreams.

Even though it may be a big and scary decision to make for most people, if you’re intentional about what it is you want and you’ve drafted out your action plan on how to achieve what you want, the only thing left to do is believe in yourself and finally put your plan into motion.

Do not hesitate, do not procrastinate, the best time you have to make this career change is now. No other time will be as good as now. Commit to putting into the work, and your efforts will definitely yield results for you.

Just think about it. What do you have to lose? In the best-case scenario you make a successful pivot into a new career that you love and is perfect for you.

Final Thoughts

Changing careers can be a difficult thing to do, but with the right tools and attitude, you can make it happen! The eight tips in this article are tested and proven when making the action plan that’ll you’ll need to make this career change a successful one for you.

Do some research into what careers best fit your experience, skills, personal needs, and wants. Network with professionals who have a similar background with you, build on your foundational knowledge by acquiring more work experience, skills, and qualifications you’ll need for your new role.

Update your professional brand assets to align with the new career you’ve decided to pursue and market yourself as a perfect candidate for roles in your new career path.

 Finally, take action and treat your career change as a job in itself. Make sure to invest your time, energy and any other resources you require into turning this dream of yours into a whole reality.

There are many opportunities out there open to people with backgrounds in hospitality, the key is finding these opportunities and equipping yourself with all the experience, skills, and qualifications that are sure to make you a perfect “match” for the role.


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Patrick is passionate about supporting other professionals to find success in their chosen career paths. So far, he has successfully navigated four career transitions and is currently a Product Manager Consultant helping businesses build products their customers love.