You’ve completed your guide training or have finished off your first year at a ‘stepping stone’ lodge. Now what? A question I am often asked by younger/newly qualified guides, is how to get into a great lodge to get that all important experience on their CV’s.
Having spoken to recruiters for additional input (I also have the added benefit of my wife being in the hospitality recruitment game), this blog aims to highlight some of the top pointers when seeking a way to take the next step in your guiding career – whether it’s into the lodge industry for the first time, or moving up to a better known lodge.
This may have been said to you before, or maybe it hasn’t, but here it is again; in South Africa the large majority of lodges will require a FGASA qualification and will not consider the CATHSSETA equivalent. Not all, but most! FGASA qualifications are not legally required to guide, however, an employer does have the right to request this in order to qualify you to join their guiding team. Have a look at our past blog: http://nightjar.co.za/2015/12/30/clearing-up-some-common-misconceptions/ , which explained all the differences in qualifications & memberships.
So therefore, the logical conclusion is that having what most employers want (a FGASA qualification) means that you will open yourself up to further opportunities. Remember, if you have chosen this route, it is definitely worth keeping your membership status active (recruiters do usually check before they put your application forward), sit the exams and get as many qualifications through them as you can. After all, it is their higher standards that your future employers are after!
On the qualification topic – there is a massive (MASSIVE – I cannot stress this enough) demand for Lead Trails Guides. My wife tells me 100% of their current guiding vacancies require lead trails. Lodges have realised there is value in bush walks, guests love the experience, hence the motivation behind wanting Lead Trails. If you can attain this, then DO! Start working on gaining hours and encounters NOW (and remember to add them to your log book after every walk). This qualification will give you a huge advantage over any other candidates.
Although very important, qualifications are not the only aspect which employers look at. What equally counts in your favour, is experience. A fair bit of guiding experience goes a long way! Yes, to many of us, it seemed almost impossible to get that foot in the door to get a bit of experience, but trust me, years down the line, you won’t look back! Myself as an example, just to get some experience as a newly qualified guide, I worked for free for the first few weeks, just to prove myself as a willing staff member (and put up with some scary living conditions). This ultimately opened the door for me to get a very (VERY) small salary, but most importantly, a permanent position as a guide! I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and made the most of it, stuck it out for as long as was needed, until another door opened, a door leading to bigger and better places! While you’re at it, try not to move from lodge to lodge too quickly, this reflects badly on your ‘staying power’ and future employers will be concerned that you are a potential flight risk!
Apart from having the right qualifications and experience, another huge aspect, often overlooked by many, is how you sell yourself! This might sound simple to some, but writing a good, professional looking CV is absolutely vital to being noticed, and standing out from the crowd. Remember, you are competing with a lot of other people for the same position.
So how do you make your CV stand out above the rest? Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog on hints & tips for creating an attractive application – from a hospitality industry Recruitment Specialist’s perspective (yes, my wife has been roped into this blog too!).
Lastly, I have mentioned this before, but this industry is very very small. You will be surprised how quickly the world becomes smaller when you get yourself into a sticky situation! News travels fast, and there is usually always one person at every second lodge who knows you or knows of you. Make sure what they know is positive!
Be patient, the right position is waiting for you for, when it comes your way, grab it with everything you have, and make the most of it!
Until Next Time,