Important Hospitality Skills for Resumes & Cover Letters

Terms to Include to Help Bolster Your Resume

Hotel receptionist on phone
••• Alistair Berg / Getty Images

The hospitality industry is a consistent form of employment in many areas and a great place for young people to break into the professional world. While many positions are entry-level, others demand much skill and offer both great prestige and excellent compensation.

Hospitality Industry Skills

Here is a list of skills that employers seek in candidates for employment in the hospitality industry. You can use this list to identify which relevant hard and soft skills you already have and which you should feature those in your application materials and job interview. This list is not exclusive, but includes skills such as knowledge in food service, hotel operations, food and beverage prep, maintenance, management, and more.

Some businesses may look for additional skills, which is why it is important to read job descriptions carefully. Also, many hotels also hire for positions that are not particularly distinctive of the hospitality industry, such as office staff.

Hotel Operations

Hotels employ front-desk staff, housekeeping staff, restaurant staff, managers, and sometimes porters, event planners, and a concierge, depending on the type of hotel. Most of these positions require excellent customer service skills, attention to detail, teamwork, and good personal grooming. Creative problem-solving (because travelers sometimes have unexpected problems) and a thorough knowledge of local resources and attractions are important as well.

Food Service

Food service includes everything from fast food to working as a server in a high-end restaurant. All of these jobs require excellent customer service skills, careful attention to detail (forgetting a minor detail could give a customer food poisoning or trigger a life-threatening allergy), and a thorough knowledge of the restaurant’s current offerings. The work is fast-paced, and a good memory is crucial.

Food and Beverage Preparation

Food and beverage preparation may include customer service (for example, for bartenders or coffee baristas), or these jobs may be entirely behind the scenes (for example, line cooks). In addition to specific skill using the tools of the trade, such as espresso machines and kitchen equipment, more general abilities are required. These include, again, attention to detail, plus a commitment to safety, the ability to work well as part of a team, and the ability to work quickly and calmly in a high-pressure environment.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Someone has to keep restaurants, hotels, and clubs clean and sanitary. Other work includes repairing equipment, changing light bulbs, and replacing broken locks on bathroom stall doors, for example. There is substantial overlap between the custodial and maintenance skills sets, and some positions may combine both roles to some extent. These skills include everything from the safe and appropriate use of cleaning chemicals to basic electrical repair and carpentry. Teamwork is often important, as is a strong work ethic.

Management

Hospitality management requires skills some that are specific to the industry and others that are important in any management context. When applying for such a position you will have to demonstrate teamwork, leadership, budgeting, strategic thinking, customer service, and a thorough understanding of your specific business—whether that means being able to speak intelligently about food and wine for a restaurant manager, to understanding when the busy season is for your hotel and why.

Personal Skills

Your personal attributes are also known as soft skills. Your technical skills and credentials will get your resume noticed and open the door for an interview, but it is your soft skills that will convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. They are called “soft” because they are difficult to define and assess clearly, but they are critical. These include the social skills that allow you to work harmoniously with other employees and the maturity to responsibly manage your workload and to adapt to changing situations.

More Hospitality Skills

  • Commitment
  • Communication Skills
  • Computer Knowledge
  • Enthusiasm
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Leadership
  • Organized
  • Knowledgeable of Safety
  • Knowledge of Hygiene Issues
  • Teamwork 
  • Thorough
  • Accountability
  • Conflict resolution
  • Foresight

Best Ways to Include these Skills in your Resume

ADD RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME:

Include the terms most closely related to the job in your resume, especially in the description of your work history.

HIGHLIGHT SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER:

You can incorporate soft skills into your cover letter. Include one or two of the skills mentioned here, and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.

USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS:

You can also use these words in your job interviews. Keep the top skills listed here in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've used each. Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.