How to Get Ahead in Your Career

Several weeks ago, I had a really pleasant phone conversation with a fellow young professional who reached out to me virtually through a mutual friend and former Hotel School classmate of mine at Cornell University. Going into the conversation, I knew very little about what we would specifically talk about, except for the general topic matter she made reference to in her e-introduction e-mail: how to get ahead in your career.

Given my mere few years of experience as a “real world” professional – coupled with the reality that I have never had any direct experience in the hotel sales space she was trying to advance her career in – and I was essentially ill-prepared to offer any concrete direction or “holy grail” sort of solutions to her.  To my surprise, what resulted from our thirty minute chat was a significant amount of tangible, career advice clarity – direction that I summoned organically and on the fly.  While they were offered in the specific context of hotel sales, I contend that the three takeaways I left with my new friends have kernals of widespread appeal.  Consequently, I share them with you readers below via a follow-up e-mail I sent after my call (my work habits have conditioned me to systemically deploy e-mails – after almost every interaction I have relating to career – that have the words “action items”, “next steps” or “thought summary” somewhere in them.  As always, your comments as readers are greatly appreciated.

It was really nice talking to you yesterday afternoon and I hope that some of my advice and tips on how to advance your career in hospitality sales proved to be somewhat helpful. While I’ve never had any direct experience with the hotel sales track, I do believe that my several years of working in hotels sales and marketing departments – coupled with my enthuiasm and volunteering for HSMAI – has given me a decent perspective.

To recap our chat – here’s a few tips for you to follow:

1) Reading job descriptions and preparing for the interviews. To prepare yourself for your next role (say, that NYC market sales manager job), hop onto hcareers (or whatever industry-specific career websites are most applicable to your space) and carefully read those job descriptions – the experience required, the scope of the role, the responsibilities and qualities they are looking for.  When reading the description, play “devil’s advocate” and ask yourself – how could I speak to XYZ quality / question in an interview?  Be honest with yourself and if you don’t have a substantial and authentic answer for it right now, then make that your #1 priority in your current role as a NJ-based sales manager. Use your current role as the opportunity to get that experience that is sought after in your next job.

2) Leverage your LinkedIn network. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to take a careful look at your ‘online personal brand’ and see how much (or little) you’re leveraging these professional-focused social networks to your advantage. When a new job pops up on your radar with a company that you want to work for, be sure to follow them on LinkedIn and see if there’s any connection you could reach out to in the company that could help put your resume and application into the right hands or, if that’s not appropriate, just ask for an informational interview – those NEVER will hurt and sometimes can yield benefits later on.

3) Consider Joining a Professional Organization. Given your career interests, consider joining the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Greater New York!  You are precisely the kind of professional – rising in their career, looking to break into the NYC market, in HOTEL SALES, that we are looking to have join us!  To give you some more background on the organization and membership benefits, have a look at the following sites (if you haven’t done so already) and let me know if you have any questions whatsoever.

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