Working in Hospitality: Expectation Vs. Reality

Maybe you’ve worked in hospitality for a sizeable length of time. Maybe you’ve only just started in the industry, or maybe you’re looking into beginning your path in the workforce.

Regardless of which category you fall under, we can bet that you have an idea of how hospitality roles should work in just about every facet, including your personal responsibilities and expectations, how your colleagues, supervisors, and managers operate, and how a venue or event should be run.

While every event and venue is unique, there are a few commonalities when it comes to working in the hospitality industry in Sydney. With our 11 plus years of experience, see the most common gaps we’ve witnessed between the expectations and the realities of working in hospitality, specifically in Sydney.

Your Resume, CV, and Cover Letter

Expectation: “My resume doesn’t really hold much weight. If I just speak to the hiring manager directly, I can share my experiences with them and they’ll be happy to hire me”.

Reality: Your resume is the first and most direct representation of yourself. If your resume, CV, and/or cover letter aren’t strong, you will most likely not receive a call.

In an industry where the turnover rate is generally high, new hires happen regularly. As such, hiring managers are accustomed to seeing large volumes of applicants. They likely have a system in terms of screening and reviewing applicants prior to inviting them in for an interview or trial.

To give you an idea, for one job post there might be 100 applicants. Out of those 100, only 30 will have the right working rights, experience, and skills. Therefore, only those 30 (or even less) will be called back. The best way to get a callback? Have a strong resume and a strong cover letter because yes - they matter.


Some tips to secure an interview include

  • Ensuring your resume is easy to read and organised in terms of formatting and content
  • Knowing what role(s) you have applied for. Read up on the venue so you have an idea of what your new potential workplace is like
  • Include your accurate contact details including mailing address, e-mail address, and especially your phone number
  • Be sure that all your communication with your potential new employer is professional, polite, and void of grammatical errors
  • Follow the instructions on the job ad on how to apply. Read the entire job advertisement and follow the instructions. Ignoring the instructions and emailing or messaging the hiring manager directly might make you seem incompetent and hurt your chances at being hired

Working in Hospitality: Expectation Vs. Reality

Getting Hired

Expectation: “There are a lot of available roles in Sydney, I shouldn’t have trouble securing a great hospitality job. In fact, employers should be chasing after me”.

Reality: While there are numerous open roles in Sydney’s booming hospitality industry, having the freedom to be choosy isn’t always realistic.


The roles will depend on the season. For example, around November and December, there are many overseas travellers and workers that are arriving all at the same time. This can make the hospitality climate have a more competitive edge. Similarly, January is a notably quiet time of the year for the industry since the “silly season” - Australian Summer and Christmas along with all its events all squeezed into one month - has wound down, many Australians have gone overseas for holiday, and the ones that have stuck around are likely saving their money and staying in more than going out.

Even though there is a high demand for skilled hospitality workers, there are also a lot of highly skilled and passionate applicants that are searching for hospitality jobs. Meaning the competition is tough, therefore, it would serve you well to not be over-confident in terms of securing a hospitality role in Sydney. Be prepared to apply to many roles, carry out multiple trials, and not hear back from even more employers before securing a job that fits your experience, passion, and interests. Because there are so many applicants, employers have specific profiles that they’re looking for.


Expectation: “I’ve had over five years of experience in the hospitality industry, and one year of experience working as a restaurant supervisor in the United States. I should have no issue finding a similar supervisory or managerial role in Sydney”.

Reality: Just because you have ample experience overseas, this experience might not translate to Sydney’s hospitality industry, unfortunately.

We’ve seen this scenario a lot and we understand where the job seekers are coming from. If you’ve had a lot of experience in your home country, why shouldn’t you continue to grow your hospitality career? The simple answer is that Sydney’s service, products, and culture surrounding the hospitality industry’s expectations are distinctly unique.

If you’ve arrived in Sydney from overseas, you should expect to start at the bottom (or at least near the bottom) and be prepared to work your way up. This can vary from barista roles to section waitstaff and especially supervisory and management roles.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t progress quickly, however. If you possess the desirable personality traits and soft skills as well as the technical skills and you work hard, your manager will see this so don’t get discouraged if it feels like you’re taking a step backwards if you accept a role that’s lower than your previous jobs, especially if you’ve recently arrived in Sydney.


Expectation: “I should receive tips on top of my wage when fulfilling my job description successfully” or “This is Australia - Australians don’t tip.”

Reality: Australians do tip. One in five leaves a tip to be specific. They only tip, however, when the service is deserving.

Another common disconnect we see is with tips. Contrary to other tipping cultures, tips in Australia should not be expected since tips are granted when you’ve gone above and beyond to provide a memorable service experience, not just done your job well.

If you're being paid by the hospitality general award, you are likely receiving around $25 per hour Monday through Friday and much higher on the weekends. The general hospitality award has been calculated to fairly support hospitality workers without a tip. There are a few ways that you can increase your tips but you should be prepared to put in the work to reap the rewards.

Bonus tip
: If you are in Australia on a visa, it's important to remember that you are defined by that visa. Meaning, if you're applying for a full-time role but you're on a student visa, you won't be chosen over someone who is fully available with full working rights. You might be more qualified and experienced but, unfortunately, your visa and your residual working rights trump all.


Looking for more insight into the hospitality industry? You’ve come to the right place. Access your free templates and checklists to help you succeed in Sydney’s hospitality industry below!

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About the author Carlyn Shaw

Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality.


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