“Companies are getting aggressive with counteroffers of more money or better quality of life,” said Patrice Rice, founder of Patrice & Associates, a hospitality recruiting agency near Annapolis, Md. “A lot are starting to put together packages for employees that are more attractive. … The job seekers are using the new job offers to get a better opportunity at their current position.”
Finding replacement workers, meanwhile, can be difficult.
In the restaurant industry, which traditionally has high turnover, replacing a manager can take two months, Rice said. The restaurant must advertise the job, screen candidates and conduct in-person interviews, background checks and personality tests, she said. Candidates are plentiful, but qualified ones are not, she added.
Even within the past year, employees were afraid to change jobs because of the nationwide financial instability, Rice said. “People were worried about whether a restaurant or hotel chain would be able to stay open or have to close a location.”
But now confidence among workers in the hospitality industry is rising, she said. Restaurants are opening new locations, hotels are expanding, and companies are seeking managers, shift leaders, cooks and servers.
Some workers have become less willing to wait for raises.
“If you’re told to wait a year, you don’t want to wait a year,” said Emily Testerman, a 2010 graduate of Stevenson (Md.) University who has found opportunities whenever she has looked into changing jobs. “You work hard and want to make more, so you look.”
Testerman, 24, left a job in November to work as a retail marketing manager for Diamond Comic Distributors in Timonium, Md. It’s the third company she’s worked for out of college. She landed her first full-time job in fall 2010 as a public relations coordinator for Vitamin, a Canton, Md.-based graphic design and public relations firm, and worked there for a year.
“I ended up leaving because it really, really delved into the PR stuff, and … it wasn’t my thing,” she said. “I was super-grateful for working there but started looking 10 months in.”
She was hired as an account manager at Adcieo LLC, a Baltimore agency that works with nonprofit groups on email campaigns. After working there for a year, she thought about looking elsewhere once again. Before she could start, she got a call from Diamond, which had interviewed her previously.
Her job with Diamond, for which she writes a column and newsletter aimed at comic shop owners, came with a bigger salary and more opportunity. For the first time, Testerman feels she won’t need to start looking again anytime soon.
Testerman believes she has progressed because she’s realistic and open-minded about her options. As an English major in college, she originally wanted to write for magazines.
“I don’t scour the job sites searching for something that’s exactly what I thought I wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t just search ‘entertainment writer,’ because that’s not going to be there. You have to be flexible and realize you could end up somewhere that you could make work. If you can use the skills you’ve learned or you’re good at, you’ll do OK as long as you can move along there.”