Unlike most agencies, at Paramount we have a high number of employees who have come to us from an employment background not based in property. We find the wide range of transferable skills our team have from other industries often bring varied skill sets and points of view to the table. As we recruit for new positions across our departments, Hollie Measures talks you through why a background in catering made her the perfect choice for our front desk and why you shouldn’t judge a candidate just based on their CV!
I came to Paramount 6 months ago after working in catering for 3 years. Trying to get a job in property was especially hard for me because of this, recruiters dropped me like a hot potato before even meeting me. I think this is everyone’s first mistake, to look at someone's work experience and seeing it is completely different to the job they applying for and instantly deeming them unsuitable.
When I started at the restaurant, it was the first job I got the minute I stepped off the train into London and feels like a life time ago. I was hired as a waitress and I stayed. I stayed because I thrived on the pressure and being challenged. It was hard. So hard most people have never experienced this kind of hard (and hot, oh my god so hot!) My boss trained me to be a sous chef but I still wouldn’t stop the face to face with customers that I loved so much, it was fast paced at the same time - so much fun.
In a restaurant you have deadlines much shorter than my deadline for this blog!
So why are the first things people ask, what was your last job and then fade out after hearing it? Wouldn’t you want to know about someone’s skills?
Organisational Skills - The same way we have flat prep here before a tenant moves in that has, for example, a week deadline, you prep for a dish. The same way you book a clean, a furniture removal, a check in, getting contracts signed, you chop the vegetables and you marinate the meat, you manage table bookings, all while hot heads are screaming at each other and you are surrounded by so many dangerously hot and sharp objects. Organisation is a massive key, the more organised you are the more prepared you'll be when it comes down to the crunch.
Problem Solving - Have you ever served a salad containing a bug? I have. What about being in charge of a business in a tourist spot when a pick pocket comes in the premises and steals holiday makers wallets and passports while they're eating a meal! It's all the exact same drill, just with an added heat and more wound up chefs. You have to listen properly and solve the problem and diffuse the situation – it’s as simple as that.
Listening Skills - Many people think they are listening but are just listening enough to come up with a response, the best kind of listener will listen enough to build up a rapport and respond to emotions. You are taught that whoever you are listening to, make sure they know you have heard them clearly in repeating back in summary what you just heard.
Diffusing Situations - When it comes to dealing with high temperaments - you are taught whatever you do, do not rise up to match the temperament. You must find common ground and something to agree on without undermining your company or throwing co workers under the bus, but at the same time you're taught the customer is always right! It’s a difficult one but in any case the right amount of charm and care will win it for you.
My old boss was a fiery character – a chef! But his customer service skills and patience literally know no bounds. He would have a complaining customer leaving, doubling the tip for the staff and putty in his hands. It took him months and months to teach me these skills and I think for any role where you are dealing day in day out with people, or in any job especially a customer service based role the first thing they should look at is skills, ethics, life experience not job experience!