how may i serve them?
October 18, 2007 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I've mostly worked in offices in the past 10 years, but I want to get a serving job. I know I'm capable and I have a tiny bit of experience, but the question is how to frame this on my CV.

I worked retail for about 4 years during and after high school, waitressed casually at a diner for a summer, and have bartended casually for friends' events. But in the last 10 years I've mostly worked in offices doing... well, office stuff.

I'd really like to work in a resto, bar or coffee shop, but I don't know how to take a CV that is easily tailored to administrative positions and make it relevant to service work. It doesn't seem quite right to feature my retail and serving experience front-and-centre since it's so minimal and from so long ago. I do think some aspects of my office jobs have involved relevant skills (such as reception work) but if that's the first thing they see it probably won't translate to someone who's ready to go on the floor and serve people. Most jobs also say they require experience but I'm not totally confident claiming to be experienced. I do have a good presence when meeting prospective employers, so at least I have that going for me, and I'm sure that goes a long way. It just doesn't go all the way!

Can anyone tell me the best manner of creating a CV for serving out of the raw materials I've got?
posted by loiseau to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(I should perhaps add that my retail experience is in photofinishing & cameras and is from 1990-1994; my serving job was the summer of 1996; and I bartended casually from 2004-2006ish [it was really casual.])
posted by loiseau at 9:41 AM on October 18, 2007

Tip: practically no one (and I really mean this) in the restaurant industry checks references. Do with this information what you will.

I got most of my server jobs by lying about past experience. But don't lie about bartending or barista experience, it will end badly and is much more complicated than it looks.
posted by sephira at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2007

You resume is pretty much irrelevant. Restaurant managers want to see three basic things: salesmanship, organization, and consistency. If they judge you to have these qualities, they'll start you out (in most good restaurants -- the only kind you can make a comfortable living working in) as a server assistant and let you work your way to the floor.

Do not claim to be a bartender until you have made change, poured four kamikazes, opened six beer bottles, loaded the dishwasher, kicked out a teenager, settled a bar fight, and lit four of your patrons' cigarettes all in under ten seconds. Without sweating. While hungover.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2007

Most bars and restaurants care more about personality than experience, if they care at all.

Here's how I got my first serving job. I had a friend who already worked there. She arranged for me to meet the boss. The interview went like this:
boss: are you good at doing math in your head?
me: yes.
boss: come in tomorrow at 2:00.

Here's how I got the next one, which was at a brand new upscale restaurant in New York. I checked Craigslist for open-house style things. You know, "servers wanted. Inquire in person between 2 and 5 on Saturday." I picked a day where I could hit a lot in one trip. I dressed real neat and smiled a lot. At the first one I went to, I filled out an application and gave my resume. I chit-chatted with the boss for a few minutes, and he just said "you know, I like you. Come in on Tuesday for a trial shift."

If your goal is to work at the type of place that requires more experience, then you really don't have enough experience yet. But you can start at the type of place that hires you because they like you or because they need someone and move up once you've got more time under your belt.
posted by lampoil at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2007

You need some more recent experience. I don't know any restaurant who will hire someone without it - it's unfortunate, but at least here, there are just so many people with experience that no one ever bothers with people who either don't have it or it's 10 years old. Independents really won't take the time to train inexperienced servers. The exception to this is if someone is a friend of the owner or manager or even, in a pinch, with another (well liked, respected) server. What you need to do here is make some restaurant friends and go from there. As far as pitching your resume, chances are no one will ever want to see it anyway. They'll give you an application to fill out. That's all the info they want and what they really want to know is that you've been working a couple of blocks away for the last year.

Failing friends, big chain restaurants will occasionally hire promising people without experience, and then all you need to do is pay your dues for 3 months or so and move on. I know for a fact that Cracker Barrel, for example - yeah, I know, it's godawful, but there you go and they actually treat their people quite well - hires inexperienced servers.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2007

What BOP said. Unless you're thinking about working somewhere very upscale or that requires specialized knowledge (Any bar beyond a "Shot anna Beer" dive), being punctual, competent, and personable is all you really need to get a restaurant job.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:05 PM on October 18, 2007

theres something to be said for starting low and moving your way up. i had worked in offices for years, and had a little overseas serving experience years ago.. i started as a dishwasher, then i did prep, then cooked briefly, then i was a busser, then a food runner, then i barbacked, then worked a few slow shifts serving... 6 months later im a full time server/bartender at a great bar with the best possible shifts i could ask for. wednesday through sunday... and i know that place inside out cause i've worked every aspect of it. maybe look for a position as a hostess or a busser... i think its pretty rare that a diswasher moves up in the way that i did, and its a crappy crappy job.. but it didnt take me long to move into a position that is hard for people with years of serving experience to secure.
posted by butterball at 12:14 PM on October 18, 2007

If you feel that you need experience, most caterers need servers part time, especially during the holidays, which are conveniently coming right up. Call a few, do some serving evenings and weekends & make some money.
posted by theora55 at 3:23 PM on October 18, 2007

There is almost never a need for a CV in waiting tables. You will look like quite the fool. Mostly the places have a plain old pad of tear off generic apps, they'll give you one and you can sit there and fill it out or take it home and bring it back. The person you usually want is the MOD (Manager on Duty), who will decide if you are worth passing on to the hiring manager.

I have had places call the people listed on the app... including friends! So just make sure to put down the names of people who will say nice things about you, and don't look like a flake. Also, don't look like you're just out to make some pre-holiday cash and then run (even if that is your goal).
posted by bilabial at 5:00 PM on October 18, 2007

Nope, I've inquired at several places I'm interested in working and they've asked for a CV... that's why I'm asking to begin with.

I realise that personality is most important but the fact is I *do* need a resume to hand them, so does anyone have any ideas about what to include/not include on it and how to present the information I summarized?

theora55: If you feel that you need experience, most caterers need servers part time, especially during the holidays, which are conveniently coming right up. Call a few, do some serving evenings and weekends & make some money.

Yes -- I was thinking this but thank you for the reminder -- I need to do some looking.
posted by loiseau at 10:31 PM on October 18, 2007

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