Julie Scheeringa was a server at Farmhouse Restaurant in Fair Oaks, Indiana. When they lost customers, Scheeringa could no longer afford a babysitter for her 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.
"No matter what I made each day, I had to pay the babysitter the same amount," the 34-year-old single mom said about the pandemic's impact on her income. "I was losing money like awful."
Instead of collecting unemployment, she opted to help out with the family's greenhouse business one day a week. She's considered going back to the restaurant, but she said the pay simply isn't enough to offset the child care costs.
Scheeringa is like millions of others reluctant to go back to the restaurant industry.
This makes for a job seekers' market, a rare moment when food service workers can pick and choose their employer and potentially negotiate for better wages or a more accommodating schedule.
Whether you're coming back to the industry or entering it for the first time, here are a handful of in-demand food service jobs to consider pursuing.
6 food service jobs women can get now
- Bartender. Bartenders mix drinks and serve them to customers and waitstaff. About half of U.S. states require bartending licenses, so you may need to take a course, either in-person or online. Additionally, every locale (city, state and county) may have its own regulations, such as taking an alcohol awareness course. The position is expected to grow 6% by 2029, faster than the average for all jobs.
- Barback. Working as a barback is commonly used as a stepping stone to becoming a bartender. Barback roles don't require previous experience, just a willingness to learn and an ability to show up on time. You'd handle manual work behind the scenes, like restocking and cleaning the bar. Most importantly, you'd have a front-row seat in observing the bar's everyday operations and can glean a lot of knowledge about bartending.
- Barista. Baristas prepare and serve a variety of coffee drinks. No certification is required to become a barista. Instead, you learn your trade on the job. Like most food service jobs, baristas face a lot of pressure. They must be fast and have a knack for multitasking while performing the job directly in front of customers.
- Restaurant server. Servers are dedicated to helping customers have pleasant dining experiences. They take orders, carry food and drinks to customers, and clear tables when the meal is over. Servers are so in demand that restaurants are competing for them with thousands of dollars in signing bonuses.
- Busser. Bussers set tables, fill beverages and keep stations supplied. This is another entry-level position plentifully available in the restaurant sector.
- Food and beverage manager. Food and beverage managers are responsible for the daily operations of restaurants. With a median pay of $56,590 per year, this cohort is well-positioned for long-term employment. However, the number of managers is only expected to grow 1% by 2029, so the competition for each position might be fierce.
How to write a food service resume
Now you're ready to write your resume. There are three different resume formats you'll want to consider:
Functional resume format: Best when you're new to the industry or have significant gaps in employment
A resume may not be necessary for food service work, especially while the industry is in dire need of workers. That said, if you're transitioning into the industry from elsewhere, you may want to use a functional resume format. A functional resume downplays your work history and puts your transferable skills at the forefront, such as customer service, safety consciousness, communication, and multitasking.
Combination resume format: Perfect when you want to put equal emphasis on your skills and work experience
The combination resume format is perfect for balancing work history with your most relevant skills. This is great if you have some relevant experience (e.g., helped in the cafeteria at summer camp) and many transferable skills (e.g., attention to detail, team-oriented).
Here's an example of what a combination resume might look like:
Chronological resume format: Great when you can show solid career progression and clear achievements
The chronological resume format is ideal for showing a clear career progression by putting the work experience at the top of the resume. Women who've worked as assistant managers at a restaurant will want to stress their most recent position when applying for managerial roles.
Here's an example of what a chronological resume might look like:
How to explain employment gaps on a food service resume
There's no reason to worry about employment gaps on a food service resume because inconsistent work history is the norm for workers in this industry. Employers want to know you can handle the job and that you'll show up on time. They're looking for you to meet their basic needs and often don't even care whether you've previously held many food service jobs.
Employers may have higher expectations for more advanced positions, like food and beverage manager. In the end, anyone working in food service should have an explanation for why they've taken time away from work. In addition to personal reasons (like caring for an ill family member), you could mention the following:
- Volunteer work is always worth mentioning, especially if you volunteered at a soup kitchen or did something else related to customer service.
- Highlight the time you spent learning about your trade. Baristas could read up on different coffee types; bartenders on mixed drinks.
- While certifications aren't required, you could earn a barista (or another food service) certificate online, giving you a slight advantage in landing more coveted jobs in the industry.
Find a food service job with a flexible schedule
Food service offers many opportunities for a flexible schedule. The current climate is generally favorable to workers, so when you're looking for a job, you may be able to negotiate your schedule. Food service jobs are often part-time, and there are shifts in the early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Always keep in mind food service jobs may be seasonal and location-specific. Some have limited hours, or lengthened hours, during certain times of year. School cafeterias, for example, only operate during the school year, for a fairly limited schedule each day.
Ultimately, you don't need to settle for the first job that comes along. The food service sector is hungry for workers, so now is a great time to search the market for a position that meets your needs.