Marriott opening D.C. hiring center 'We're creating a one-stop shop for employment'

Lodging

September 09, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

In an effort to attract and retain hourly workers in an industry saddled with annual turnover of more than 130 percent, Marriott International Inc. today will open a permanent employment center in Washington.

The center, at 1001 G St. N.W., will allow potential workers to apply for jobs in one location rather than at the Bethesda-based company's individual hotels and businesses.

"We're creating a one-stop shop for employment," said Bryon Peterson, project director for the lodging company's employment centers. "Here, a candidate can go to one place and have an interview with someone who immediately can assess their skills."

In addition, Marriott intends to conduct outreach programs to contact potential employees in area churches and schools.

For Marriott, the problem is especially acute around the District of Columbia, where it is one of the largest private-sector employers and operates 127 hotels, distribution centers and senior living facilities. In all, Marriott employs 15,000 in the metropolitan Washington area, and needs to find and screen the more than 5,000 new workers every year.

"We have a high density of Marriott product here, so an employment center makes the process easier for both us and the applicant," Peterson said.

Marriott's growth has been a factor that has made finding new employees difficult. In the past three years alone, Marriott has invested billions of dollars to acquire Renaissance Hotel Group N.V., Forum Group Inc. and the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain. The $1 billion Renaissance purchase, in February 1997, added 150 upscale hotels to Marriott's portfolio.

Marriott isn't alone in thinking of creative ways to screen and hire workers in the current tight labor market, where unemployment BTC rates in many regions of the country are below 5 percent.

"It's always been a problem, but it's just magnified now because of the healthy economy," said Mary Kraft, president of Mary Kraft & Associates Inc., a Lutherville-based employment agency. "There are just a lot more jobs now than there were 10 years ago, in every field, be it in the hotel industry, temporary employment or engineering. It forces people responsible for recruiting to be a lot more creative."

The Washington facility marks the company's third nationwide. Last year, the company opened a facility in Boston, and another premiered in Phoenix earlier this year.

If the Washington center is successful, Marriott may open similar facilities in Baltimore, Orlando, Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit, Peterson said.

"We're a 70-year-old company that has always hired independently for each of our properties," Peterson said. "Now, we're hiring collectively. It's a cultural shift."

"Before, candidates were often lost in our system; now we have a way to capture good people and keep track of them."

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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