What do you look for in a good candidate?
When we’re recruiting, we look for candidates with good and varied experience, a great attitude, flexibility, a can-do attitude, ambition, a willingness to attend industry events if applicable and a good, solid work experience. We also like them to be well-presented, have a warm and friendly disposition, have good contacts, great references and an understanding of the industry.
It’s also become increasingly important to have a good LinkedIn profile and have a professional presence on social media. When I recruit for my own business, I always, always check a candidate’s social media profiles. I always look on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Many roles in travel are all about relationships and contacts and nurturing them. Therefore it’s about doing all you can to make those relationships even better and grow your network.
What would immediately put you off a CV?
From our perspective, it’s continuity of service, so no job hopping. If you’ve worked for three companies in three years, then that will raise questions, but if you've been in the industry for ten years and split that time relatively evenly between three companies, then that will instantly be more appealing. People do frown at candidates who have been at a company for less than a year or so. However, there could be very good reasons for that and that is why coming to a recruitment agency will help because we will fill in those gaps and ascertain why they have moved on quickly. If a CV like this is just sent directly to an employer then it could potentially be frowned upon.
A CV should contain a candidate’s successes and achievements and it needs to be presented well, so it should have bullet points, be spell checked and contain the correct grammar and punctuation. If it is lacking in any of these departments, then that would be a negative.
Are qualifications needed to get into the travel industry? What professional training is out there?
When you first start in travel, you have options such as IATA fares and ticketing courses, GNVQs in travel, CRS and GDS training or even a degree in travel and tourism. I have a travel and tourism degree and it has probably helped me in my career, but the most important thing is experience. Get the experience under your belt.
Moving forward, at a more senior level, the best professional training would be to get a Masters. Degrees are quite common place these days, so if anyone has gone to the effort and invested their own time to gain a Masters, then it shows a lot about that individual. I am impressed when I see that on a CV.
Are travel companies struggling to find good candidates or is the industry awash with them?
It’s the former - absolutely. It’s a candidate-driven market and has been for a long time because there are a lot of jobs out there and unemployment is historically low. The gap between the number of travel vacancies and the number of quality candidates is only going to get bigger because there are more and more travel jobs being made available. Of course, there are going to be more candidates registering, but it is about convincing companies in the travel industry to broaden their requirements and look at a wider selection of candidates, which a lot of companies are now beginning to do.
What is the recruiter’s role in the process? What exactly do you do?
The recruiter’s role is significant. From a candidate’s perspective, we are a one stop shop. We have maximum exposure to the majority of travel companies, in terms of contacts as well as vacancies. We are also there to help candidates with their CV writing and to support and assist them with the interview process.
From an employer’s perspective, some candidates will only come to us to help them find a new role and, likewise, some employers out there will only come to us with their vacancies. We are also there to help clients with salary benchmarking and to guide them through the interview process and assessment days.
Also, recruitment companies can have access to travel businesses that aren’t necessarily currently recruiting – we have the contacts and we know who is happy to receive speculative CVs and who isn’t.
We are all experts at what we do here at C&M - we have 300 years of travel industry experience and have been recruiting in the sector for 20 years. We have the knowledge, the extensive database, the legacy, the industry-wide exposure, a visible networking presence at industry events and a significant advertising reach for both candidates and clients.
By Barbara Kolosinska, Managing Director at C&M Travel Recruitment