The hospitality industry is one of the few in North America where you can earn in excess of $75 000 without needing a Masters or Doctorate in Management and Business Studies. While a formal education is a must for some jobs at the general manager level, and above, many successful managers have worked their way up from the bottom.

The Hospitality Industry has more opportunities at the top level than most other industries. A restaurant chain needs managers in every store, every district, and every region. Each of these need a working understanding of how each stage of the process effects the overall success of the business.

Where Do You Want to Work? Where Do You Need to Work?

If you want to work in middle or upper management in a chain then you need excellent organizational and financial skills. Your job will hinge on the success of the last quarter. A decrease in profit margin may not cost the company any tangible financial gains, but it may throw off the long term company projections.

A smaller urban restaurant may require excellent organizational organization skills, and a strong understanding of Complexity Theory management. This manager needs to make sure everyone in the restaurant stays committed, and motivated. The financial success may depend on Patrons feeling the restaurant floor staff has a real concern for their dining experience.

There is not enough time to fully study all aspects of management concepts and skills. Even if you spend eight years in university you will still only major in one or two management strategies, financial, human resources, strategy, RACI Matrix and Project Management, Competition/Market Analysis, marketing and advertising, systems and organization, customer retention, market segmentation, supply chain management, hiring and recruitment, etc.

Where you feel most comfortable, with numbers or people, determines where you will be the best fit. Yes, we all want a job that fulfills us, but if it is one that is outside of our comfort zone we will lack the fulfillment needed to handle the daily stress. When looking for a career goal Candidates need to look for the places where they will thrive, not just survive.

As a coach I normally tell people the more intangible their skills, the higher up the ladder they can thrive, not just survive.

How To Get There

Once you have spent the time to do a personal SWOT analysis, set some long-term goals, and determine what you want then it is time to reverse your focus and learn what the industry demands. The best way to research this is by having a chat with a Recruiter. A qualified recruitment firm has Clients they are contracted to work for. They will be able to tell you what these specific Clients look for in an upper middle management Candidate. They will also give you a realistic opinion of your place on the career Development scale. And, most important, what your chances of landing a job are. This will give you a good idea of where you need to invest your time and money building your Career Capital, Core Competencies, and skillset.

The next step is to secure a Career Coach. Look for one that matches your long term goals. If you want that top district supervisor’s job you want a career coach who has an academic background, has corporate experience, and discusses organizational behavior and diversity management.

If you want a lucrative job as the General Manager of a high end restaurant in your city then you may need to find a Career Coach who moved up through the ranks, has major achievements in their portfolio, and discusses topics like negotiation, toxic communication, and motivational skills.

No matter what your next step is you need to take responsibility for your own success. Now is the time to start researching companies you want to work for. Learn the names of key players. Learn what successes and failures they have. What were the pivotal moments in their corporate history. Never take another person’s word. Always do your own research.

Resources and Strategy

Maybe university is out of the question, but you can buy used university books. I always suggest reading a text book over watching an online power point ‘course’. These courses are only meant to give you a brief overview. In fact, I usually tell people these courses are made to help you learn what areas you need to study.

Another option if full time university is too expensive, or time consuming, is to audit courses. MIT allows anyone to audit their courses by downloading them to your computer – free. In today’s world there really is no excuse for not having some academic credentials on your resume.

Business trade shows, networking groups, volunteer opportunities, being mentored, and interning are all ways to improve your skill set.

The strategy you use to get to the top needs to be well thought out. There is a saying, ‘failure to plan is a plan to fail.’  Trying to Do It Yourself can waste time, and seriously impact your wealth generating ability. One of your best resources is a Career Development Team. A leadership coach, life coach, recruiter, mentor and an honest friend who will tell you your weaknesses can all cut years off the time it takes to reach your career goals.

Are You Ready?

When you think you are ready then it is time to visit the recruiter again. I suggest calling the same one. A recruiter will not work with you through your career. It is their job to place you in a job, with the expectation that you will stay at least 2 years. (If you are a job hopper then you may not be cut out for an upper management job). But, that doesn’t mean that you cannot keep up a relationship with the same recruiter.

I suggest contacting the recruiter 6-12 months before you feel you will be ready. This gives you time to make adjustments to your study and experience if you fall short of your goals. It also gives the recruiter a heads up that you are entering the job market again. And, they may be able to land you a job before the job search process even begins.