If you are struggling to find talented employees in the hospitality industry, it may be time to look farther. By restricting yourself to only hiring “typical” employees with hotel work experience, you are competing with other hospitality companies for the same limited talent pool. 

Opening your business to other qualified employees from different industries, on the other hand,  can help you cut through the competition and attract genuine talent. If you want to find even more talent, consider reaching out to diverse employees at various stages of their lives, who won’t be inundated with hotel job offers. This will add fresh perspectives to your workforce without you having to spend a lot of time and resources trying to outperform the competitors for the candidates’ attention. 

We’ve made the process of finding hidden talent simpler for you. Here are 7 examples of unexpected talent pools you can tap into:

1. Workforce Returnees 

People who are rejoining the workforce after a (brief) gap tend to experience stigma and discrimination, sometimes being straight up rejected from a job despite having all the desired qualifications. (1) A recent survey found that one in five hiring managers would decline an applicant with a resume gap and more than half of the applicants fear this stigma. (2)

However, career gaps aren’t always red flags. Especially during a time when millions of employees around the world were laid off during the pandemic and several had to take time off or quit their jobs to take care of their own or their family’s health. (3)

Even outside of the pandemic, several new parents take time off for their kids, and many retirees feel inspired to rejoin the workforce for economical or ambitious reasons. This creates a huge untapped talent pool that you can capitalise on. 

2. Interns

You don’t always have to spend several rounds of interviews trying to attract new talent, especially if you already have interns and apprentices working for your business. Considering the interns already have some hospitality experience and are used to working with and understanding your business practices, this can turn into a seamless hiring process. To make things even easier, you can give them test projects and have them shadow more experienced employees as a part of their internship. 

3. People With a Non-hospitality Background

The biggest talent pool you can tap into is people with a non-hospitality background.  Employees in other industries with similar jobs tend to have several transferable skills that give them the potential to succeed at a hospitality job. For example, you don’t always need a veteran hotel manager or an experienced receptionist to work at your hospitality business. Corporate managers, healthcare employees, and customer care representatives already have the people skills and problem-solving abilities to work a hospitality job. 

4. Neurodivergent People

Nearly 20% of the workforce consists of neurodivergent employees and companies hiring such diverse employees were found to be six times more likely to be innovative and agile. “Multiple studies show neurodiverse employees bring to the table a unique way of thinking, “unleashing tremendous potential at minimal expense in accommodations,” Shawn Fry, CEO of NeuroLogically, a company primarily employing neurodiverse workers, had said in a previous interview discussing how to manage neurodiverse employees in hospitality

Neurodivergent employees can be excellent data analysts, pattern-recognizers, problem-solvers, and strategic thinkers, making them ideal employees for several industries, including hospitality. (4)

5. People With Disabilities

Around 15% of the world’s population or nearly 1 billion people experience some form of disability. (5) If you dismiss disabled employees before giving them a chance, you are also losing out on a large talent pool. Many types of disabilities don’t limit people’s capacity to work and sometimes they can even be beneficial

A study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities contributed to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, higher retention rates, and increased customer loyalty. (6) Disabled individuals also bring unique skills and talents with diverse perspectives to the table, creating more room for out-of-the-box ideas. 

If that isn’t convincing enough, know that businesses employing disabled employees may qualify for certain tax deductions and financial incentives. (7)


😃→ Only need short-term employees for the high season? Here’s a step-by-step guide for seasonal recruitment

6. Former Employees

Recent surveys show “boomerang” employees are rising since companies resumed operations post-lockdown. A 2022 study from payroll company UKG found that nearly half of the employees who quit during the pandemic admit they were better off in their old jobs, and 1 in 5 people have boomeranged back to the companies they left. (8)

If you are on good terms with your former employees, it can be a good idea to work with them again. They already have your desired work experience and the necessary skills (that’s why you first hired them, right?) and understand your business inside out. Moreover, they have probably gained new skills and experience since they quit, probably making them a better fit for their previous or even a new role within your company. 


7. Immigrants, Refugees, and Expats 

Immigrants, refugees, and expats are almost always looking for a new job, offering a large talent pool for you to choose from. The biggest advantage of working with this demographic is that you get bilingual or multilingual employees with foreign connections who can give your hospitality business a competitive edge, especially if you serve international customers. They have a deep knowledge of their home countries and can help you expand your business in the region. They can also offer fresh ideas from outside of your local brainstorming bubble and add skills to the workforce that your local talent pool might lack. (9)

A word of caution though: Each country has different laws and regulations for working with international employees, so make sure you are not getting in trouble by hiring any foreign employees without legal permission to work in your region.  Deloitte has a comprehensive guide for hiring international employees in different countries, and we also recommend speaking to a specialised lawyer. 

🥳→ Want to find diverse employees from communities you don’t have access to? Social media recruiting can help! 



  1. https://www.msnbc.com/know-your-value/business-culture/career-breaks-how-explain-resume-gap-new-job-n1297697
  2. https://www.benefitnews.com/news/career-break-stigma-is-harmful-to-female-employees
  3. https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R46554.pdf
  4. https://hbr.org/2017/05/neurodiversity-as-a-competitive-advantage
  5. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health
  6. https://www.bestbuddies.org/imintohire/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2017/01/Employing-People-with-Intellectual-and-Developmental-Disabilities-i4cp-20141.pdf#page=11
  7. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities
  8. https://www.ukg.com/about-us/newsroom/15-million-pandemic-era-us-job-quitters-say-they-were-better-their-old-job
  9. https://www.immigration.ca/the-top-10-benefits-to-employers-of-hiring-foreign-talent/