No job—NOW what?

By Pariva Rustagi, Director of Groups, Meetings & Events – Asia Pacific, Hilton

I was once laid off 12 years ago, when this concept was never really heard of in hospitality. I sat in the locker room of the hotel, thinking who to call first, what to do NOW? I was a single mom at that time of a 6-year-old daughter, making it difficult to think straight. A week was spent cursing my luck and circumstances, leaning on friends and Old Monk (a popular Indian rum, yes and it’s very cheap too). Thankfully, family and friends were always standing by, boosting my morale and helping me think ahead.

The obvious and most repetitive advice with all good intentions were keep your chin up, it will pass, update resume, connect with industry stalwarts, engage a hiring agency, come stay with us to reduce the monetary burden or can we send you some money (parents are amazing). These are from our well-wishers and with all true intentions, though these had little and limited positive effects and by fall of evening the thoughts of joblessness came rushing in.

Soon enough, I started applying and finally accepted a job offer with a position lower than last held. I had sworn to myself to make this the turning point of my hospitality career, and thankfully it remains that way over a decade later.

I have never worked in any other industry (nearly 25 years) and was not looking out of it this time either. I truly love the travel eco-system and hope all impacted remain with it and bring it up back stronger for our future generations to enjoy it. The industry as a whole has never been this badly hit and it’s not just those who have been laid off but those who are still on furlough with an anticipation and prayer that they are called back soon, those who are working with pay cuts and delivering equal or twice their output, those who had to face employees and deliver the bad news while keeping the boat afloat and responding to internal and external stake holders and finally small to large business owners who are staring at their losses, liabilities, mortgages and potential closure.

Staggering job losses with recent layoffs; just to set perspective, you’re not alone.

Pic1 (above) is just outrageous and regrettably, it will take few months before the travel industry re-opens and begins job listings. We have missed the “best case scenario” (below pic2) and in midst of “baseline scenario” with sprouts of green in few countries that will surely avoid the last scenario.

While you keep your search and options open, following are action-driven suggestions that will keep you busy and can be performed solely or in groups. Remember, it’s difficult to get work in our industry of our liking and expectations for a while and on the other hand it’s equally easy to sit back and do nothing. The latter can have some serious consequences and may require greater discipline to shrug off. I’m coming from a place of experience.

My suggestions are divided into 3 fields: freelanceskill development and entrepreneur. The underlying principle is to remain active mentally and physically without spending any too little cash with a chance of earning a bit and returning faster, stronger to your field of expertise.


It’s quite simple for anyone to create an account on UpworkFiverr or Freework.

These platforms have multiple options for outsourced services. Employees who have marketing and sales background boost up their profile through offering additional niche services. Finance, Data entry, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Marketing plans, Business Plans, E-mail Marketing, Customer Handling, etc. are services one can offer. The key here is to receive first 3 to 4 reviews and those “5 stars” to start gaining traction. This should not be difficult as we have striven to achieve those in our industry with the only difference here being online. My suggestion is pricing your services right and your profile even stronger. People are looking for that trust factor when they are scouting for outsourced work.

Skill Development:

“Upskill” is how I look at it, many a times we’ve wanted to learn something new but have just not had the time. NOW is the time!

You can use the following links to gain more knowledge (with a clear focus that this would be one of your ace cards to get back to the job quicker hopefully).

  1. LinkedIn Learning: they provide a free one-month trial for various interesting courses.
  2. Semrush Academy: they have one of the best digital marketing courses for free. They even conduct online exams and provide with certification and it’s all FREE. Yes, surely they promote their own services along the way but that fair for all the content and courses you can have for free of cost.
  3. On local front its worth calling out the resources from #STB, Singapore Tourism Board. They have something called SME Leadershipwith multiple webinars, digital learning and due to their partnership with Google they even show business trends and data of various markets.


This is always an option. Hoteliers are known for their perseverance and long working hours. Taking daily hits in their life with a smile. The ability of customer handling surpasses all other industries. We are also one of the most resourceful agents ourselves. We are hustlers! I believe this is what most of business minds are like.

Having said this though I have had limited exposure with an entrepreneurial stint and would not call myself a subject matter expert. Though emerging business trends always interest me. In the meantime, I strongly recommend you visit YourStory and bookmark this page for regular inspiration, not covered in mainstream media.

Here’s a little excerpt from the site “When history reaches a turning point, there are those who watch and those who act. We at “YourStory” are both observers and participants in the making of new economic history. The purpose of our existence is to evaluate, expound and showcase the awesome spark of creation in every entrepreneur and change maker.”

Stay strong, share ideas with others and keep your aim of remaining busy. May it be pro-bono or at a nominal price. It could be anything from using your existing skills to trying farming in some rural area (if your personal situation allows you to move around). Any work that keeps you busy and gives you some sort of fulfilment.

If I had to sum up the above in one sentence to deliver above message it would be:

“I have discovered that sitting still leaves little spaces for the grief to get in, so I stay busy.” Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times best-selling author

Wishing you all the very best, remember chin up & keep exploring!

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. I’m in no way or form promoting any platforms & resources mentioned in my article.

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