How to write a hospitality cover letter

Whether you want to work in a restaurant, a hotel, or a tour company, your cover letter is one of the first things any hiring manager in the hospitality industry will look at. That’s why you must make a great first impression and show employers what you can bring to the table.

In this blog post, we look at three writing tips that will help you perfect your cover letter.

Written well, your cover letter nicely supplements your resume and gives you an edge over other candidates. Written generically, your cover letter leaves hiring managers unimpressed and places your entire application at risk.

Needless to say, a lot is riding on your cover letter - especially for members of the hospitality industry, where competition is fierce for the best positions.

Apply these three cover letter writing tips to your hospitality job application, however, and you’ll be able to write a great cover letter that highlights your strengths and impresses any future employer lucky enough to get their hands on it.

1. Tailor your cover letter
Tailoring your cover letter to each position you apply for is one of the most important things you can do when applying for jobs.

The primary purpose of a cover letter is to present yourself as the ideal candidate for your target position and to achieve this you must connect your experience and skills to the specific needs of the company.

First, research the position to get an understanding of the company’s work culture, goals, challenges, and products. Then, read over the job description, and make a list of the requirements and qualities they expect of candidates. Pay special attention to:
  • Desired personal qualities (i.e. personable, people-oriented, adaptable, etc.)
  • Technical abilities
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
Finally, address these details in your cover letter to demonstrate you have the skills required to excel in the position. The result of your efforts will be a cover letter that makes you look tailor-made for the job.

2. Be brief 
Hiring managers — especially those at larger companies — have hundreds of applications to read. Their time is valuable and wasting it could cost you a potential job opportunity.

That’s why your cover letter should ideally be packed with information, but still, be short enough to be easily digestible. You're best off if you hit a standard cover letter length. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to aim for somewhere around:
  • 200 to 300 words
  • Between a half-page and one page
  • One to four paragraphs (five max)
Keep in mind that the average adult reading speed is about 300 words per minute. That means your cover letter needs to be short enough that a hiring manager can read it from top to bottom in one minute or less.

Any longer, and you risk looking like a show-off, especially if your experience is mid-level or less. A single-page cover letter tells the hiring manager you know how to get your point across, and that you respect their time.

Remember, a cover letter is not the place to outline your entire career. You want to highlight the most important aspects of your experience, the ones that make you the ideal candidate for this job at this company.

3. Emphasize key hospitality skills
Anyone that’s worked in the hospitality industry knows that being great at the job isn’t easy. You need to be able to deal with clients, manage tense situations, and make important decisions at the drop of a hat. That’s why hiring managers know are always looking for candidates who demonstrate a talent for key hospitality skills.

According to HCareers, the following skills and qualities are some of the most sought after among hospitality employers:
  1. The ability to build and nurture positive relationships with guests, vendors, and other stakeholders. Key phrases: guest relations, client relationship management, vendor development.
  2. A calm and positive demeanor under pressure. No matter what’s going wrong or who has what complaint, a hospitality professional needs to be able to smile and keep a positive mindset. Key phrases: fast-paced, positive attitude, thrives under pressure.
  3. Attention to detail. Guests notice the little things, and a hospitality professional needs to make sure that all of those elements are taken care of and in place. Key phrases: detail-oriented, exceeded expectations, guest satisfaction, five-star reviews.
  4. Flexibility. Hospitality requires a willingness to work off-hours, including nights and holidays. The most attractive candidates are those who can switch gears and change roles whenever they're needed. Key phrases: Additional responsibilities, dynamic, team player.

To make your cover letter stand out, work these skills into your writing by using concrete examples of how you put your talents to use in your professional life.

In any industry, writing an effective cover letter means striking the perfect balance between individuality and professionalism. The standard elements - introduction, key accomplishments, and call-to-action - give you a framework in which your qualifications can speak for themselves.

In the end, your hospitality cover letter gives the hiring manager a glimpse into what it's like to work with you. Make sure that glimpse is a good one.

Conrad Benz is a Digital Media Specialist & Resume Expert at Resume Genius, where he helps countless job-seekers craft standout resumes and launch their careers. His career expertise has been cited by numerous publications, such as Glassdoor and Resume Library.alert-info

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