How to bullshit a restaurant resume
January 6, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Help a guy with no experience weasel his way into a restaurant hosting job

Long story short: I need some extra cash, so I put out feelers to my food-service friends to see if anyone could help get me some restaurant work on top of my full-time day job. A bartender I know totally came through. He thought I'd make a great host, mentioned my name to management, and told me to swing by to meet the manager and drop off a resume.

Great news. Except that I have ZERO restaurant experience. None. So what the hell do I put on a resume? Do I fabricate out-of-town experience? Or just honestly pitch myself as a genteel dude who dresses sharp, speaks eloquently, and multitasks like a mofo?

Further complicating things is the fact that this is THE top, swankiest, most expensive, James Beard Award-winning restaurant in town. I don't know if I can (or should) bullshit these people. They're total pros.

I've been inspired by this post

But the resume dilemma remains. Any advice?
posted by sureshot to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Even at James Beard Award-winning restaurants, the job of a host is easy to the point of no experience being necessary. I mean, you'll have to a) answer the phone b) take reservations c) seat people and d) maybe minor sidework like napkin folding and the like.

Not to make you feel bad, but my younger sister's first job at age 15 was hostessing at a similarly fancy restaurant. Just emphasize any customer service skills and come across professionally in the interview, and you'll be fine.
posted by downing street memo at 11:50 AM on January 6, 2012

I've been to places like that that had absoultly horrible hosts, but they shooooooo were fun to look at if you get my drift.

I've worked at nice places, up to and including $50 a plate specials with white table cloth setting but not $500 a plate places I suppose, and it was obvious that they didn't hire hosts based upon resumes.

Just show up clean, on time, and with your best friendly face/handshake forward and you'll be fine, especially if your friends recommendation is worth a damn to the manager doing the front of house hiring.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:52 AM on January 6, 2012

Yeah, after my daughter got tired of working retail in high school, she became a restaurant hostess. It's the job they give to people who have no experience waiting tables. The main requirement is to be presentable and have some basic common sense.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:55 AM on January 6, 2012

Getting this job won't be made based on your resume, it will be your personality. Just be your charming self and you should be good
posted by Danithegirl at 11:58 AM on January 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. So far this is quite reassuring. But to be clear: Should I forgo the resume entirely? Perhaps just lead with something like, "Hey, I honestly don't have a ton of restaurant experience, so instead of wasting your time with an irrelevant resume, I thought I'd just come in and meet you in person"?

posted by sureshot at 12:02 PM on January 6, 2012

I would. But ask your friend to be sure.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:08 PM on January 6, 2012

You should leave a resume, so that they have a piece of paper there with your name and contact details. You should be able to write one that does most of this: 'honestly pitch myself as a genteel dude who dresses sharp, speaks eloquently, and multitasks like a mofo'
posted by jacalata at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Alternately, if any of your other jobs involve customer service or working with people, I would include that on the resume. Personally, I don't like to show up empty-handed.

I worked in restaurants for 10 years. They mostly want to know that you are good with people, work well under pressure and look nice. Good luck!
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 12:11 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

On second thought I'd bring *something*. But, as jacalata says, it should not be pretentious or overblown. In so far as the resume matters, relevancy matters: They probably don't care that you can code database scrips in MSSQL. They might care more about your recent trip to China where you had to figure things out or be left in the dust by the next bus leaving town.

They definetly care more that you can deal with people, show up on time/dressed appropriately, and care about the position itself.

You get the idea?
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2012

Any kind of public-facing positions would be perfect to put on a resume for this position.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:14 PM on January 6, 2012

You might also read these AskMe posts to help identify key skills or aptitudes to put on your resume, and to make you sound like an "insider" when interviewing:
What's it like being a hostess?
How can I be of service?
You're welcome to wait in the bar
posted by Houstonian at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2012

It shouldn't be too hard to come up with a reasonable 1-page resume for this job. It needs your name, address, contact info, schools you went to, employers you've had, references they can call.
The difference is, you're not trying to impress them with your GPA and your dissertation title, and you're not trying to explain why your (programming skills) were absolutely essential in (making this product). This information will be giving them a general sense of who you are. Where you're from, what parts of the country you've lived/worked in, whether you're a techie or a wordie or a businessie or a stay-out-of-school type, whether you have a demonstrated ability to hold a job for more than 6 months, etc. It's not a situation where they have a preference about these things, just that you're supplying information to they can make small-talk (oh, so you've lived in [our state] 5 years now?) and have a general sense of you before and after you meet.

My advice, keep the resume super-short, and have a good cover letter attached. Why is this the job you're most excited about applying to? Why do you think you'll be good at it? Is there an item in your resume you could refer to (where you really developed/used your "cool under pressure" or multitasking skills, for example)? Are you looking forward to learning about the food/restaurant industry? Include some praticalities, like when you're available to start, how you prefer they contact you (email/phone), etc.
posted by aimedwander at 12:44 PM on January 6, 2012

I doubt a cover letter is going not to make much difference. I think being personable, having good social skills and remaining calm under pressure are the traits that you can present to get the job. But being a host is more than leading people to a table and handing off menus. You have to be able to sort reservations and walk-ins in a way that makes sense for the servers and the kitchen. Can you run a POS system? Will you be taking care of the credit card payments and so on--have you worked retail at all?

Why not drop off the resume in person, so they can take a gander at you?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2012

They're going to need some previous job history for you to put on an application, so just give them a basic resume. If you have any customer service-related experience I would make sure to put that down. Basically they want to know that you'll show up on time, be friendly and do your job.
posted by radioamy at 1:39 PM on January 6, 2012

I was a host at a top-rated steakhouse years and years ago. Had very little experience. They typically take the veterans as waiters, and the greenhorns as host/hostess.

Here's the best advice I can give:

- Dress sharp, look good
- Speak eloquently, as the host has to talk to everyone who comes through
- Don't ever, ever lie on your resume, ever. That's gotta be the worst idea I've ever heard. All they need to do is ask one simple question about the 'biz, and you've lost your chance.

I got the host job with almost no experience - you can 100% do the same.
posted by trubleu1212 at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2012

Please bring a resume. I know to you it's just some restaurant job, but to the people interviewing you it's their Real Job. If you showed up empty-handed going, "Um, not really much on the experience, buuuut...", I think they would get the impression you didn't care about the job. Be forthcoming in regards to your experience, but treat them with respect and act interested and you'll be great! Working in a restaurant is some of the hardest and most fun work I've ever done.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:33 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

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