In a job market that is largely candidate-driven, recruiters and trainers need to be creative these days. Donald Gasper talks to both                 

“A CURRENT trend in the industry is the growing attention to using social media and online recruiting,” says Dr Alice Hon, associate professor of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “This approach has extended our understanding of the ways in which recruiting approaches may attract specific types of job applicants and has enhanced our understanding of the ways in which recruitment policies may affect broader perceptions about the brand and image. For example, with the advanced development of information technology and the internet, hotel managers in organisations can fully utilise the functions of social media and virtual reality (VR) or even artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to help training, hiring and selecting, as well as socialising and organising employees.”


As social media are integral to people’s everyday lives, they are important for recruiters hoping to capture the attention of potential candidates. “Creativity in online strategies is an important element in a successful recruitment strategy,” says Darryl Agon, executive director of Agon Hospitality Recruitment. “Besides finding platforms that match the target market of candidates, recruiters must carefully craft their message for the greatest impact. It must be informative yet concise, demonstrate excitement and enthusiasm and reflect a staff-centric culture to attract recruits. Choice of images is also vital since a picture can be worth a thousand words.”

Assuming the employer branding is suitable and the platforms well chosen, timing is another subtle but key creative element to build a successful strategy. Knowing when a recruitment post would garner the most attention is one way to ensure a larger, more receptive audience.

To ensure the ideal viewing experience, Agon says recruiters should also consider if candidates are viewing ads on their mobiles versus computer screens, what browser or operating systems are most popular, if the posts are on a medium convenient to be shared amongst colleagues, etc. Depending on the media chosen, creative hashtags could also play an important role to ensure the posting’s key message is echoed and shared to others.

“Rather than post long-winded job descriptions or job summaries we usually generate an image and add a few words, to allow the imagination of our candidates to stimulate interest and curiosity and to stand out,” says Wayne Fitzharris, managing director of Aspire Globally Executive Search. “Technology is changing the way we see the world and we can now fast-track our processes to alert our candidates as soon as we have vacancies. Old labour-intensive techniques have been discarded and we use technology to increase efficiency and improve recruiting process.”

Vincci Chung, senior consultant with Hotels HR, agrees that recruiters must be more creative: “We need to keep thinking outside the box to seek alternative solutions for our clients.” More and more employers are willing to provide cross-training programmes for their staff to be more prepared for unexpected situations, she notes. “Employers like to have candidates who can multi-task. Those who are capable of wearing multiple hats are more valuable in the market.”


In this connection, Hon notes the growing demand for candidates with transferable skills: “It is important to focus on individual competencies, especially when there is evidence indicating that characteristics, such as creativity, general mental ability and conscientiousness could be among the predictors of high employee performance in many contexts.” For example, a competency-based compensation system that emphasises individual competence is arguably the most significant management system an organisation can implement to encourage employee creativity with transferable skills.

Chung also stresses the value of having transferable skills: “In today’s competitive world, we realised that candidates need to have more transferable skills in order to widen their opportunities, especially if they are more mature in age,” she says. “They might not need to be expert in all areas but should be sharpening their skills, be more creative and flexible with what they do best. Our clients, on the other hand, also like to hire candidates who can be potential successors and are willing to grow with the company in the near future.

“In order to find alternative solutions for our clients, in particular for the positions that lack staff, we focus on presenting candidates who are equipped with transferable skills, the right attitude and the right techniques for our clients’ consideration.”

Dr Tony Tse, SHTM Professor of Practice (Industry Partnerships), says the School of Hotel and Tourism Management stresses the balance of academic knowledge and transferable skills. “Important generic skills include leadership, communication, team work, problem solving and customer service. These skills are transferable in the sense that as a Hotel and Tourism professional moving up in seniority, one would find them relevant. These generic skills help build strong teams, overcome difficulties, and create loyal customers. The skills are transferable because even in the case of moving from hospitality and tourism to other sectors, one would certainly find them invaluable. That is why SHTM graduates are so highly
sought after.”

In the SHTM, in addition to academic subjects, students come to learn transferable skills including leadership, communication, team work, problem solving, and customer service through the compulsory subject Work-integrated Education in the Bachelor programmes.