Getting a job in a restaurant can be tough. The turnover is sometimes high, and there’s a lot of competition. Still, some people say a resume isn’t necessary for a restaurant job. This is flat out wrong.
Sure, some restaurants hire based off of referrals and first impressions, since it's hard to gauge how comfortable a server will be with customers, thinking quickly on their feet, and handling rush times based on a piece of paper. That said, it's important to have a list of your experiences handy so you can show hiring managers what you know. Here are a few ways to write a restaurant resume.
Keep It Simple
Most resumes should be as simple as possible, and nowhere is this more true than on a restaurant resume. Managers want to see you in action, feel your handshake, and see your smile—not read a 1000-word essay on your past experiences. For some restaurants, it's enough to list the restaurant you worked at in the past, how long you were there, and what your major duties were.
...But List Everything
Servers, bartenders, bussers, and other restaurant staff often take on diverse roles. It's not unusual for a hostess to take drink orders when the server is swamped or for a server to bus a table if more seating is needed.
If you took on different roles—for example, if you were a server but you were put behind the bar once a week when they needed extra help—be sure to list both your roles. This will show how well rounded and adaptable you are, which is very important in a restaurant setting.
Include Certifications & Degrees
If you have a culinary school degree, finished bartending school, or have a food safety and handling certification, list these somewhere near the top of your resume. Bartending school isn't a requirement for all bartenders, but it certainly doesn't hurt, and food safety and handling certification might be required based on your state or city's laws. At any rate, all of these distinctions can help you get a job in a restaurant, so make sure the hiring manager sees them.
No Experience? Here’s What to Do
Everyone needs a first job, and if you don't have any experience in a restaurant setting, that doesn't mean you can't get one. List all relevant customer service experience you have. If you worked two years in a retail setting (or even two months), it shows you know how to handle customers politely and calmly even under pressure. If you volunteered at your local soup kitchen every weekend during high school, it shows you know how to handle the public while handling food (it also shows altruism and compassion, which never hurts to have).
You may not want to include your educational accolades or experience in non-customer service roles—employers may not be interested in your time as a part-time construction worker—but you should list anything that could potentially be relevant to the job.
Somewhere on your resume or cover letter, you should mention that you're willing to furnish credible references upon request. The references don’t need to be on your resume, unless you have a lot of space to fill. But generally, a mere mention—like on your cover letter—that you're willing to supply references is sufficient. Many restaurants hire on a referral basis, so having references is always a good idea.
Getting a job in a restaurant is tricky, but if you have experience, candor, and people skills, it's very possible. And having a well-written, professional resume handy will put you over the top. You can get more tips for creating your restaurant resume by using LiveCareer's Resume Builder.