Howard is regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and oversees a number of disciplines including sales, marketing, digital, procurement & supply chain, retail & sourcing, finance, and HR.
What options are there for me after years of restaurant work?
I have worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years now, more or less since I was in college. It was initially supposed to be short term until I decided what to do with my life (I studied psychology), but it quickly became permanent.
After several years managing restaurants, I am now looking for something less physically draining. I still have a great love for food and drink, but I am unsure what options there might be in that area that don’t involve working in restaurants. Do you have any suggestions for a mid-career move?
There are a number of professionals just like you who seek a mid-career change, and it is really important to remember that this does not mean you are starting all over. Regardless of industry, this switch in professions will be smoother if you can find a role that builds on your existing skills. Think about the key transferable skills, strengths and experience you could bring to potential roles. Consider how past study and achievements could apply in a new context.
You mentioned several years of restaurant management; this would be an opportune time for you to showcase your people management skills, teamwork and leadership qualities. These are very strong soft skills which hiring managers are looking for in their next hires. Moving from the front line to take on a more strategic or operational role is a viable option for you.
In the food and beverage industry, this usually translates from a restaurant manager position to perhaps an operations or general manager, mainly responsible for driving sales, marketing, promotions and managing customer relationships. At this level, your years of experience in the restaurant industry are excellent background for you to take on an F&B consultancy role to assist restaurants during set-up and staff training.
It’s natural to worry about whether it is the right time to make a big (or even small) career change. If you’re considering moving jobs, this is a good time to evaluate your career goals.
It is absolutely possible to move into a new profession away from food and drink. There are instances where restaurant managers have leveraged the social media space and ventured into professional food blogging or reviews. If you are considering a brand new industry, think about transferring your customer service experience to perhaps retail, where the work hours could be shorter and less physically draining.
It’s also important to determine the skills you will need to bridge the gap to your new career. Research any additional training, education or experience you might need. If possible, volunteer in your target industry to gain some experience before making your move. Get to know people who work in the field you want to enter. They may be able to offer you information and advice on your career, introduce you to people, supply you with job leads, or even provide referrals.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as What options after years of restaurant work?