Hospitality offers a huge range of job opportunities, from bar work and waiting on, event planning to chef or hotel manager. If you’re passionate about customer service and love working with people, hospitality could be a great choice for you.

What are the advantages?

  • Flexibility. Working hours can vary, with the potential for early or late shifts. There are a multitude of roles and opportunities – people will always need food, drink and accommodation.
  • If you’re a people person, connecting with new clients or guests every day, making them happy, can give you a real buzz.
  • The industry can offer unique challenges – problem solving and creative thinking skills are put to good use every day.
  • Career progression and developing highly transferable skills.

What are the challenges?

  • This sector works holidays, weekends and nights. This may work well for you and your family, or prove to be a real juggle.
  • Starting salaries can be comparatively low but there are plenty of opportunities to progress and if you are customer facing, you should benefit from tips.
  • Roles can often be high-pressure as you try to ensure every guest receives the best service. The ability to perform under pressure is a transferable skill for most professions.
  • Physical work – you’re likely to be on your feet much of the time, but the upside is that it can keep you fit while you work!

Industry insight

We spoke to some forces-friendly employers in the hospitality industry to find out a bit more…

Compass Group UK is one of the largest employers in the UK, with more than 45,000 employees based across 6,000 plus locations. Compass provides catering, hospitality, cleaning, facilities management and more in healthcare, defence, education and workplaces as well as sports and leisure venues.

The company has a great understanding of military life, operating in many varied environments and defence sites. Last year, Compass launched a spouses’ policy recognising the impact military life can have on the non-serving partner’s career.

Hilton Hotels are another well-known forces-friendly employer.

Elysha Roberts, the company’s Talent Acquisition Co-ordinator, says: “We are committed to an inclusive workforce that fully represents many different cultures, backgrounds and viewpoints.

“Our global brands provide workplaces for people from all walks of life to connect, creating a welcoming environment.

“With extensive career development opportunities, dynamic support for learning and leadership development plus an innovative culture committed to supporting your wellbeing, you have all of the resources you need to succeed.”

Parkdean Resorts is the leading operator of holiday parks in the UK, with a total of 66 parks nationwide.

The company is proud to promote hospitality as a long-term career path, with over 250 job roles available and extensive training opportunities, including academies and apprenticeships.

Stacey Howe, Parkdean Resorts’ People Business Partner, explains: “We welcome the transferable skills and experience of the armed forces community, providing opportunities for veterans returning to civilian life, reservists, or family members of serving personnel, there’s a career for everyone.”

Views from hospitality hotspots

We meet military spouses who told us about the ups and downs of working in the sector…

Carla Eley

Carla Eley, Restaurant/pub team leader

“I work as a team leader in a Greene King pub and restaurant, which involves bar work, waitressing, cooking and administration. My shifts vary with an average of 40 hours. We have three children so I need to fit my work around our home life. I do an early morning shift and normally leave for work again at 5.45pm. At weekends, I often start at 9.30am and finish after midnight.

“Juggling my job with army family life is not easy and it only takes the smallest of changes to wreak havoc on our fragile routine. Last January, my partner’s two-week Estonia deployment changed into six weeks and then six months. It was extremely challenging and I ended up handing in my notice. Instead of accepting it, my manager put me on a zero hours contract to keep my job open. I would recommend hospitality as a part-time or ‘in-between’ job for a military spouse but not full-time – the hours can vary massively and the chances of finding childcare to cover the random shift patterns are extremely slim.”

Deborah Crampton

Deborah Crampton, ESS [Compass] general manager

“I’m an army spouse and have been in the army reserve for 14 years. I’m delighted that Compass, as well as supporting reservists, has also made a commitment to spouses. I was a beneficiary of this last year when my husband was posted from the South West to Lincolnshire, forcing me to leave the job that I loved.

“I spoke to my management team, who engaged with both the Compass Group Armed Forces Committee and the business director in the area where I would be living next, securing me a new role.

“I was quickly promoted too, so it’s ended up being a great move for both me and my husband. It took a huge amount of stress away to be able to stay with the same company when I relocated.”

Jeanette McNaughton

Jeanette McNaughton, Business director – defence, marine & aerospace

“My husband was stationed in Germany in 1998 when I got my first role with Compass at Oxford Barracks in Münster as a general manager. I returned to the UK in 2001, holding a number of ESS contract manager posts. Over 15 years I added more defence contracts to my role, providing services across many defence sites.

“It’s been fantastic having a job where I’ve been able to continue to progress my career, despite regularly moving as my husband took up different postings or went on deployments. I would encourage spouses to look at roles in the food and support services sector, as working for an employer that has an understanding of what being a military spouse entails makes a huge difference.”

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