The hospitality industry, and life in general, can be a tricky space to negotiate, but Stephen Hickmore, who has worked in the industry for far too many years, is here to help. Got a question for Stephen? Send them to sarah@augmentcreative.com and we’ll seek the sage, unbiased advice of our Agony Uncle. Questions and answers to appear on Hospitality Marketplace, but we’ll keep it all anonymous. We promise.

Each day I get asked many questions. Maybe it’s the white hair and longevity that makes people believe that I can be trusted with their concerns and dilemmas. Over the years I think I have heard it all, but no, I am surprised with new questions often. Part of the reason why I love this job. So, ask away, we will keep it confidential.

Dear Stephen,

Despite telling a prospective employer not to contact my present employer for a reference they went ahead and phoned my manager. This has put me in a very difficult position. What do I do?

Super awkward

I am hearing this more and more these days. Prospective employers are being more thorough with references and pre-employment checks. Having said that, it is unacceptable for a potential employer or recruitment agent to phone your boss. What do you do now your current employer knows you are looking to move? May I suggest that you set up a meeting to discuss the honest reasons why you decided to look for another position. Is it salary? Lack of promotional opportunities, working conditions? Remember, you cannot be fired for interviewing for another job. It is a difficult conversation, but it does “put the cards on the table” so to speak. If you are considered valuable, it is possible that your present employer will address the issues to keep you from leaving. Be careful with counter offers from your boss though, it may be just because it is “inconvenient” for you to leave and your real reasons for seeking elsewhere are not solved.

As for the prospective employer who called your boss. Give them a call, let them know that this was not acceptable. Though, if you really want the position, keep the conversation tidy but ensure they know what a difficult position this has put you in. Perhaps the fact that this employer did not consider that he may have put your present employment relationship in jeopardy speaks volumes about whether you really want to work for them.

***

Dear Stephen,

I had a really bad day at work. I was so upset that I put a post on Twitter saying how much I “hated” my job and that my company stinks.  I have been called into a disciplinary hearing to be charged with bringing the company into disrepute. This is not fair, my social media accounts are my private business. Why are they treating me like this?

It’s my account, so I can say what I want

If I was your employer I would be very upset that you put such a derogatory post on Twitter. The statement you made is possibly defamatory and could cause real damage to the company’s reputation. You need to consider social media as a very public platform that could potentially be read by prospective investors, clients and other employees. Before the hearing, check the company policy on statements to press or social media. This will indicate how best to represent yourself.  In my experience, employers take a dim view of such unguarded statements with disciplinary action possibly leading to dismissal.  I would remove the post immediately and apologise to your employer, which may help.

  • Stephen Hickmore
    Stephen Hickmore

    Stephen is a headhunter for the hospitality industry, and Co-founder of The Hospitality Solutions Company H.S.C. as well as Hickmore Recruitment. Stephen has a world of experience in hotels. He trained with Trusthouse Forte Hotels in the UK before moving to South Africa in the 80’s. After a 3 year period with Southern Sun Hotels, Stephen became a recruiter for the hospitality industry. Stephen presents and MC’s at many events and competitions. He has an insider view of the crazy world of hotels, and writes about anything from mad chefs to giving up the booze. His observations are at times educational, and at other times oblique.

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