Hardik Khetrapal is a passionate, budding hotelier who believes in providing a top-class customer experience. He has received training under notable brands such as Hyatt Hotels Corporations, Taj Hotels, and The Oberoi. He is the student coordinator at the Front Office Club of IHM Bangalore, “Faces”.
Apart from this, he is also an aspiring entrepreneur, educator, resume writer, and speaker. He is well conversant with departments such as Food & Beverage, Front Office, Revenue Management, and Sales & Marketing. His website hardikkhetrapal.com creates content and organizes online webinars on different topics at minimum costs.
According to you, what qualities should an aspiring entrepreneur possess?
I think anyone who is planning to start something of their own, needs to be a jack of all trades. They must have some idea about everything, be it the Product, Marketing, Bookkeeping, Sales, Branding, or Business Management. Whatever skills they lack, they must hire their weaknesses as soon as possible. It is not necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of everything but when they start, they should know what all they need and should be able to manage it on their own if there isn’t anyone else who is managing it for them.
Having a strong focus on learning and development will help the entire team to grow and maintain the standards of the business. Myself, being an aspiring entrepreneur, starting with a small venture of mine; I have learned that you can’t be a good leader if you don’t invest in your learning.
Starting small and laying a strong foundation is very important. Most of us think that we need a team and some amazing people to start our business. I think that is where we fail to understand that with more people, comes greater responsibility, and there’s less room for failure. You need to train them according to your standards if you want standards to be maintained.
Hiring people and thinking that this will bring about a lesser workload is not the correct way to go about entrepreneurship in my opinion. Add people once you think you’re confident and have a sound plan on what the next few years of the brand or company looks like.
What inspired you to take up the profession that you are in?
When I was in college, I always wanted to crack a Management Training Program for a 5-star hotel chain. During my under-graduation, I worked in some of the most prestigious hotels and got clarity about these programs. I knew I wanted to crack it but I didn’t find anyone in my college with sufficient knowledge to guide and train me for the same.
After researching and forming connections, I found myself a Dale Carnegie certified instructor who coached me for job interviews and personality development. I ended up cracking 2 Management Training Programs during my college placements.
Post-Covid, I understood that the industry was on thin ice and we all had to step up our game. So, I found this as an opportunity to help students and that’s when I started with hardikkhetrapal.com. I learned from various credible resources before starting, for which I had to pay some hefty sum. My initiative is to bring quality content for a very minimal fee.
So, this is how I got inclined towards this profession where I can help other students who are aspiring to crack similar programs. It’s easier to relate to someone near your age and students feel less of a power divider and don’t hesitate to ask me questions or voice their concerns about these interviews.
How important has upskilling become in a post-Covid world?
I think the importance of upskilling in post-Covid is the same as it was before Covid. The only thing which has changed is awareness and realization. After getting laid off, people have started realizing that they can’t rely on just one skill. They have to keep up with the trends and demands of the market to keep learning something or to survive a job.
Several jobs and skills which were trending a decade ago are becoming redundant, and every year there is a need for different types of skills. It’s important to keep learning and upgrading your skill-set to keep your value high in the market.
Also, Covid has somehow pushed employment more towards the survival of the fittest and with the fewer job opportunities I believe, people with a variety of skills will get a better opportunity than others. So, I think upskilling is important since more and more people are realizing it now.
Can you share a few tips on resume building?
Before I throw some light on a few tips, I want to clear this misconception of people about a resume getting you the job. A resume will not get you the job. It will only land you to a job interview, just like your Tinder profile will land you to the date.
Some tips I would recommend are:
- Picture: You don’t need a picture unless you are applying in an industry where there is a need to show how you look. This comes with a condition: if a job has few applicants and resumes are likely to directly be scanned by a human, putting a picture might increase your chances of getting called for an interview.
- Use relevant keywords in your resume which are mentioned in your job description. Matching keywords increases your chances of passing the ATS and landing at the interview.
- Don’t use too many text colors as the ATS system might not be able to read your text.
- Keep the font professional and as expected. You don’t want your recruiter to get distracted by the font and colors, right?
- While writing a resume, many people think that the chronology of events cannot be changed at all. Remember, you have less than 8 seconds to capture the attention of a recruiter. If the first thing your recruiter reads is irrelevant, your resume is likely to end up in the discarded pile.
For example, if you’ve worked 5 months at Oberoi Hotels and then another month at Burger King just for the experience, yet you highlight Burger King at the top, you’re likely to lose your Brownie points. Remember, jumbling the order in your favor can only be done to an extent.
Do not highlight something too old right in the beginning. That may work against you rather than for you as the recruiter starts to think ‘has this person not done anything of significance since then?’.
How has the role of a leader changed over the years?
Decades ago, ensuring that the business is up and running and produces a profit for the business owners was a sign of being a good leader. We’ve come a long way from such thinking. Now business owners who are recognized as good leaders have different skillsets and think more globally. Today’s world is more ethical than yesterday. It is more sustainable and environmentally conscious and so are today’s leaders.
A few decades ago, the sign of a good leader as someone who can get all the required tasks done as per the deadline, dictate the trends, and carve out a trajectory for the team. Today’s leaders believe in cooperation, collaboration, and brainstorming together over creating competition and fixing deadlines. They don’t dictate terms. They lead by example. They ignite confidence in their teammates and give due credit where required.
How do you think the hospitality industry can make a comeback when the pandemic situation improves?
The hospitality industry is adaptable. During the pandemic also it came up with some amazing ideas and inventions. When they were unable to sell the rooms, many hotel chains tried to generate revenue from their laundries and by restaurant food deliveries. I think things are getting better.
Hygiene will be one of the key aspects to get business back to the hotels. The changes in sanitization standards might be here to stay for good, but hotels will, hopefully soon, start operating at full capacity.
Let’s get one thing clear. People will never stop traveling and the virtual world can never form an absolute replacement of the real deal. So, while we’re glad technology is useful during the pandemic, the hospitality industry will not perish anytime soon.
How you can help your students to improve personal branding?
My Journey with my brand started 6 months back and since then I’ve been promoting others to work on their brands. There is no time better than now to start personal branding. There have been many ups and downs since then and I have tried to record my entire journey. Through my workshops, I focus on how to make a strong personal brand and I help them with everything they need to know before starting and after the start.
I keep no more than 20-25 students in a batch so that there is more personalization and I can connect with everyone on an individual level. I also try to keep in touch with each and everyone and assure them that they can reach out to me whenever they need anything.
What are the top 3 tips that you would like to share for interview attendees?
The top 3 tips which I would give to anyone who is appearing for an interview are:
- It’s not the end of the world. Take it easy, Don’t think that if you don’t get selected, it’s an end. There will be ample opportunities in the future. Just make sure you give your best. Take your interviews as conversations where you are going to know about the recruiter and the company, and they want to know about you. Be YOU!
- Research well about the company, its values, mission, and vision. Check their social media handles. Check what’s new, the balance sheet, and if you have an idea who might come to recruit you, research about them as well. This is how you will be able to show them you want the job and feel more confident.
- Get your things in place the night before the interview. Make a checklist of whatever you need to take with you, and check it before leaving. Don’t talk to people outside the recruitment hall/room. This will make you nervous. Instead, make a good playlist of your favorite songs and listen to it before going into the interview.
Which is more important according to you, the journey of an individual or the goal that he or she attains?
That’s a nice question. I believe that the journey is important because it prepares you for the future and helps you in learning. You learn what is working and what isn’t. A person might attain a particular goal with many means if it’s important to him. It can be fair or unfair. However, the journey will carve you for the future and will make you someone with experience who can help others reach their goals too.
What are your suggestions to ace online interviews?
Anybody who is appearing for an online interview must make sure to:
- Fix the camera and check the audio and video before joining the room. Make sure you’re audible but at the same time not shouting into the microphone.
- Keep the thumbnail of the recruiters near the camera so that it looks like you are making eye contact with them.
- Make your upper torso visible i.e above the waist, along with your hands as they act as a trusted sign. Sit with your back straight just like you would in a real interview.
- Don’t keep anything else on the table you have kept your laptop on because you might pick up something and start fidgeting when you don’t know an answer.
- Don’t forget to blink. This is a very basic tip but I’ve seen several people open their eyes wide and neglect blinking an appropriate amount of times. It looks odd and made-up. Make sure you look natural.