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Looking Back, Moving Forward

8th December 2016

Mike Payne - My first nine months at Towngate Personnel

Michael Payne

2016 has been quite a year.

Despite the clear indication 2016 will be a year remembered for many negative reasons I firmly believe we have numerous reasons to look back at the year with pride for what has been achieved.

Looking back in time isn't something I often spend time and energy doing but looking back with pride at some of the successes of 2016 provides me with plenty of confidence that 2017 is going to be a fantastic year.

Yes 2016 has brought its fair share of negativity - political turmoil, referendums, elections, wars, too many of our most loved celebrities dying. But it has also been positive in many more ways than most of us could immediately list without taking the time to look back.

I've taken the decision to look back and in doing so I feel as though I can look forward with a renewed energy and purpose.

New beginnings

After taking a year out of the recruitment industry I made the move into hospitality recruitment, joining Towngate Personnel in March 2016.

My remit upon joining was to develop a permanent desk, focusing on F&B roles within UK based hotels - an exciting change from my background within education and commercial recruitment.

Looking back at my first nine months I am happy to state that hospitality as an industry is something I am incredibly proud to be associated with.

One thing that for me is very clear is that people are the life-blood of the hospitality industry. I am fortunate to work in a role where our clients focus on finding the best professionals for their businesses no matter the background.

In hospitality we can work without bias; aspects such as a candidates race, nationality, gender etc. are not barriers for employment. If you have the knowledge, the skill set, the correct attitude and a decent control of the English language, opportunities are endless.

I think everyone associated with the hospitality industry should be proud of creating such an inclusive environment where talent and hard work is rewarded.

What impresses me the most is that as the population continues to grow year on year, more and more professionals are looking to broaden their horizons and come to the UK to secure employment within the hospitality industry.

Helping candidates and clients connect

Companies like FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn have developed services that have made us more connected than ever before. This has given many more people across the globe access to professional opportunities.

So how do you make the most of these opportunities?

A couple of pieces of advice:

1) If you are currently based overseas and would like to secure a role in the UK, simply commenting on a job advert "interested, please review my profile" is rarely going to encourage the recruiter to get in contact.

If you are serious about the opportunity and you want a recruiter on the other side of the world to represent you in your job search, try and give them a reason to do so:

  • What interests you about the role?
  • Why does it interest you?
  • What experience do you have that matches the requirements?
  • What value can you bring to the team?

Recruiters will need some form of tangibility so the more detail you can provide the more opportunities you should have access to.

2) If you come from a country where you will need a sponsored visa to work in the UK, inform us at an early stage of the process, ideally not after we have discussed specific roles.

We generate revenue by successfully placing candidates into our clients businesses. As you can imagine, with senior level roles this isn't going to be a cheap option so to expect our clients to pay our agency fees, visa costs, relocation costs etc. is a difficult one to achieve.

With these cases I generally recommend to prospective candidates that they apply directly. One simple reason for this, without our agency cost, sponsorship visa costs may be more aligned with our clients budgets thus providing more opportunities.

If I do receive a role from a client where they will cover sponsorship costs alongside our recruitment costs I will look to speak to candidates who have registered an interest - it's unlikely I will speak to candidates who have simply put "interested, please review my profile" - so get number 1 nailed down early on, it will be of benefit in the longer term.

3) Don't apply for jobs for which you have little or no relevant experience. Be realistic.

Donald Trump is a reminder that you should just apply for that job you want even if you don't have the experience

This is a light hearted, tongue in cheek comment but in realism this approach is only going to get most of us so far.

If you are a bartender for an Irish pub in Dubai for example, it's unlikely you will secure a role as a general manager of a 400 bedroom hotel in London. Pretty simple advice, but you would be surprised how often these types of applications are made.

Be realistic. Give yourself the best possible chance of success.

I could go on and list numerous other tips and words of advice on how to apply but it's not a one size fits all scenario, these basics should at the very least give you a stable platform to move forward with.

To conclude, I ask that overseas applicants:

  • Provide a good level of basic information
  • Approach the process in a transparent and honest way
  • Provide realistic expectations

With this in mind I am hopeful that I can place many more UK and overseas based candidates into exciting roles here in the UK in 2017.

2016 has been a year of both success and failure, I am fortunate that the successes far outweigh the failures.

2016 highlights

  • The team at Towngate have grown from 20 employees to 35, we are expecting to grow each of our divisions further as we move into 2017. We have targeted a team of 50 employees by the end of 2017.
  • After 9 months of success as a billing consultant I have been promoted to team leader level, leading a team of 4 employees on the permanent F&B side of the business.
  • I have placed 23 candidates into permanent roles within UK hotels so far with multiple vacancies still available.
  • We have launched a brand new website that you can check out here - Towngate

Thank you

A big thank you to my colleagues, clients and candidates for the support throughout 2016. It has been quite the introduction to the hospitality industry, I've enjoyed it thoroughly.

Happy holidays

Take some time to look back, it will help you to move forward!

I wish you all a wonderful festive/holiday time. Let's finish 2016 strongly and start 2017 with a bang.


If you are looking for work for the new year, or perhaps you need some staff - feel free to contact me on



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