Atrium Hospitality is one of the nation’s largest hotel operators and is headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia. Representing well-known hotel brands like Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Wyndham, Atrium’s national hotel portfolio spans more than 80 hotels in 28 states and 3 million+ square feet of event space.
Atrium Hospitality ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among third-party hotel management companies in the J.D. Power 2021 Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark.
Hcareers recently spoke with Jude Reser, Director of Talent Acquisition for Atrium Hospitality, about what makes Atrium stand out as an employer and how job seekers can set themselves apart when applying for a position with Atrium.
Can you tell us about your role at Atrium Hospitality?
I’m the Director of Talent Acquisition for Atrium Hospitality. I oversee talent acquisition efforts enterprise wide. I primarily support the field by providing the resources and training for the HR leaders across the company’s national hotel portfolio, so they’re able to effectively and efficiently source and engage with candidates throughout the applicant flow and recruiting process.
What was your career path to get to your current role and company?
I’ve been fortunate to stay in the hospitality industry my entire career! I love the industry and can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I started off in operations, specifically food and beverage, and along the way, I decided that I had an interest in human resources. While in operations, I worked with the director of human resources of our property, and I began wondering what her role was day to day. My curiosity led to my choosing to return to school to earn my master’s degree, then transitioning into human resources.
From there, my career grew with additional opportunities for me to be challenged. From a property-level director of human resources and through a series of promotions and transfers, I joined Atrium in 2019 as a regional director of human resources, where I supported 33 hotels, representing multiple well-known brands and spanning the central United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and in early 2021, Atrium Hospitality’s senior vice president of human resources approached me about my interest in talent acquisition, which was about 20% of my role as a regional director. With this opportunity, I was able to productively direct my passion for talent acquisition into my current role. Right now, staffing and talent acquisition is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing, and I’m enjoying working to solve this challenge for Atrium.
What has been the most impactful part of working at Atrium Hospitality?
The ability to make a difference. Even though Atrium Hospitality is ranked as one of the largest hotel management companies in the United States, we acknowledge that each associate’s contribution counts and emphasize the personal growth of each team member.
Also, our company’s core values make Atrium the best place to work. Atrium Hospitality’s core values of Perseverance, Respect, Inclusion, Service and Teamwork guide our culture for creating a welcoming environment for all. These values encourage the personal growth of our company’s associates. We use associate engagement surveys to collect feedback from our team members, and our team highlights the family feel we’ve created that makes coming to work each day exciting. We make sure to continue hiring candidates that will integrate well and continue building upon that culture.
We all strive to walk and talk our core values as we support strong teamwork and perseverance, help each other get through challenges, have respect for each other, and maintain exceptional guest stays. We make sure that each candidate we bring on board upholds those values central to how we operate for success.
Atrium Hospitality was just awarded #1 for Guest Satisfaction by J.D. Power; what role did each team member throughout all properties play in that?
That highly coveted recognition came from the passion, hard work and loyalty of our team members, especially through their adaptability and flexibility. What’s even more special is Atrium Hospitality won that award during this pandemic with smaller hotel teams maintaining positive attitudes and going above and beyond to exceed guests’ expectations. Many team members have expressed gratitude for learning new skills afforded by this difficult period in history. Part of our approach to excellent guest service is high standards and training. Atrium Hospitality sets the bar high and emphasizes training, so team members can be prepared and do their job with confidence. Every single customer interaction and touch point counts!
What qualities do you look for when searching for a candidate to join the Atrium family?
With the hotel industry being a service industry, relationship-building is vital to success. The passion to build and maintain relationships and provide excellent customer service is the foundation no matter where you are within the organization.
Although we’re looking at the functional skill set of the candidate, we also use behavioral interview questions when looking for candidates, since it’s paramount for the candidate to align with our values and culture.
What advice do you give current or future Atrium team members on how they can be successful and grow throughout the company?
Take risks and don’t be afraid to apply for that next job. Have confidence in the experience and accomplishments that you have. During an interview, we always ask candidates to talk about a personal accomplishment they’re proud of, whether it’s a project, award or recognition. We listen for an example of how they went above and beyond in a role or for a guest. It doesn’t have to be a huge accomplishment. Recently, we were interviewing for a high-level position, and the candidate was furloughed during this pandemic. The interviewee was able to talk about simple accomplishments like “entertaining my children so my partner could work effectively,” and it stood out to our team enough to bring them in for an interview because the candidate was a culture fit.
What is your number one tip for a candidate going through a virtual interview?
Eye contact. Know where your camera is and face forward to it. I’ve heard feedback from hiring managers that if a candidate isn’t able to make or keep eye contact during an interview, they likely won’t extend an offer to the candidate.
Also, create the environment for your interview. We understand there are some things that are out of our control, like a lawnmower or a dog barking, but make sure you show your interest and excitement for the interview and that it’s a priority for you.
What efforts does Atrium Hospitality take to support diversity and inclusion throughout their properties and the industry?
Atrium Hospitality has three pillars — vendor, sales and marketing, and recruiting. My partner and I lead the recruiting efforts, and we cast a wide net for candidates. We work with local community-based organizations to give our human resource leaders a connection for candidates. We also use multiple languages in our job postings to make them more accessible to candidates from different backgrounds.
I’m also the company’s national liaison for Project SEARCH, a program that hosts students with disabilities who recently graduated from high school for internships to help them prepare for full-time employment in the community. Nearly 450 Project SEARCH participants have graduated from partner programs hosted at Atrium Hospitality-operated hotels with more than 175 participants then being hired by our hotels upon graduation.
My talent acquisition business partner, Taylor, is an advocate for military and veteran recruitment as well.
Are there any career development programs to help team members of all levels advance throughout the properties or organization?
We have two formal programs. One is the Atrium/AHLA Apprenticeship Program, which provides career opportunities by placing a candidate in an entry-level supervisory position and fast-tracks them through a management development program with e-learning through the AHLA certification process. We include them throughout an on-property developmental rotation where they can be mentored and join on-site management meetings. Once they complete the program, we advocate for them, including myself, to help them find their first full-time management position.
Our second program is the Leadership in Training program, which identifies a candidate that has the knowledge and competencies and is looking for their first leadership position opportunity. They will be placed in a hotel to shadow a general manager to receive the training they need on a professional development plan within a timeframe. Once they complete the program, we help to place them in a full-time assistant general manager or general manager position.
Atrium is also very active on college campuses, especially during the undergrad and internship phases, so we can help students get real-life experience in the hotels for enhancing their careers. It also helps interns and future candidates find what they enjoy doing and what roles they would like to apply for once they’re ready.
Given your experience in the industry and working in different positions, do you believe there are a lot of opportunities to grow in the industry with or without a college education or degree?
Absolutely. Cross utilization across departments creates the opportunity for any and every worker to get exposure to each of the multiple disciplines within a hotel and find their perfect fit.
My first job out of college, although I had a hospitality degree, was as a room service server for the Charlotte Marriott City Center. After relocating to Pittsburgh, I became a front office supervisor at the Courtyard by Marriott at the airport, and although I didn’t have the specific functional skill set for the front office, I was a culture fit that they were looking for, which you don’t get through a specific degree.
You may reach a point in your career where a college education can set a candidate apart. From a talent acquisition perspective, if we have two very qualified candidates for a leadership role, but one has a college degree, or in some cases a master’s degree versus someone without a higher academic degree, that can influence a decision.
What are you looking forward to the most for the future of Atrium and its properties?
Growth! We want to build on the momentum achieved with recent awards and the positive financial performance while getting through this pandemic. We’re making so much progress toward re-staffing our properties across the country in line with demand.
We’re also working toward improving the work-life balance for our associates, which I think will contribute to the long-term success of the hotel industry and its workers. If the hotel industry is able to effectively demonstrate that you can achieve a quality work-life balance and also love what you do, it will be a game-changer for the evolving workplace and hospitality.
Learn more about Atrium Hospitality and their open opportunities here.
Jude Reser is a Senior HR professional with over 30 years of operations, sales, and HR experience in the hospitality industry. Her background includes a well-rounded portfolio of human resource leadership experiences including urban, suburban, resort and multi-brand properties.
Jude’s experience includes overseeing training and leadership development, benefits and compensation strategy, culture branding, employee relations, benefits administration, change management and HR administration/compliance. She also has a passion for attracting and retaining the best talent via creative acquisition strategies.
Jude’s current role as Director of Talent Acquisition for Atrium Hospitality provides talent acquisition support for the HR leaders amongst more than 80 hotels across 28 states. She also supports the development and training for Atrium’s university intern and management training programs. Jude holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a MSOL degree from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, along with SHRM-SCP Certification.
About Atrium Hospitality
Atrium Hospitality is ranked as one of the nation’s largest hotel operators. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, the company manages a portfolio of 82 hotels in 28 states, representing well-known brands such as: Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Wyndham, among others. Atrium operates 20,463 guest rooms/suites and more than 3 million square feet of event space. Atrium Hospitality ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among third-party hotel management companies in the J.D. Power 2021 Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark. The company’s five core values of Perseverance, Respect, Inclusion, Service and Teamwork steer a culture of unity while encouraging personal growth. Atrium Hospitality was awarded a Top Workplaces 2020 honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atrium supports a range of civic and community activities, and Atrium properties nationwide are proud to take part in Project SEARCH, a school-to-work program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For more information about Atrium, visit www.atriumhospitality.com.