I put my first resume on this website back in the late Nineties, and eventually I started noticing that bartenders were finding my website because they were searching for examples of how to write their own bartending resume. So I wrote this original post back in 2006, hoping I could help other bartenders who might not have a ton of experience writing a resume. It’s been referenced by hundreds of thousands of people over the years, which brings me an incredible amount of joy. And I love it when you guys drop me a note and let me know that it’s helped you land a good job.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s jump right in to the tutorial
Step One: Have a Clear and Helpful Header
I see a lot of resumes in my position as a bar manager, and you’d be surprised at just how many people leave resumes with little-to-no contact information. First, print your name in large letters. If your personal pronouns are important to you, list them here under your name. Don’t forget your mailing address (if different from your home address, always use the mailing address), phone number, and email address. If you have a public social media profile that you’re not afraid to share, by all means put that in as well. It can help potential employers get to know you a little bit before they decide to reach out for an interview.
Step Two: Skip the “Objective”
For some reason, it’s been traditional to include an objective section in a resume, and I’ve never understood why. Everyone’s objective is the same: to secure a good job. No matter how you dress it up… “Objective: To find employment in a fast-paced, fun work environment” …it always comes off sounding weak. Skip it.
Step Three: Highlight Your Special Skills
Believe me, if you speak a foreign language in a restaurant in this country, you’re going to be one step ahead of the game. Put it down, but don’t lie about it. If you can only count to ten in Spanish, it’s not worth mentioning. Do you have any computer skills? I’m talking about POS (Point of Sale) systems here. Dinerware, Micros, Aloha, etc. If you’ve used a computer system at another job, put it down. For a bar, having to spend two days training you how to punch in an order in the POS is only going to be a deterrent to hiring you.
Also worth mentioning here is any special training or bar-/restaurant-related coursework. If you took a class on wine, mention it here. If you went to bartending school, put it down. You can even split this into two sections as shown, if you have a lot of special skills. Spend some time on this section; it’s almost as important as the following section.
Part Five: List Your Work Experience – Smartly
Here’s the meat of your resume. Now, I get a lot of people asking how to fill in this section when they don’t have any bartending experience. It’s very simple: you lie. Just kidding. Always tell the truth, even if it is a bit embellished. I’ve actually hired people with “some” bartending experience only to find out that they lied about having any, and they were subsequently let go. Some places will have a test all new applicants take – so don’t lie.
Important tip: When you’re filling out the job description for each establishment you’ve worked in, I feel that it’s more important to convey a sense of what sort of place it was, rather than recounting what you did there. Face it, you did the same thing at every job: served guests, worked the cash register, and cleaned. I don’t care. What I want to know as a bar manager is what sort of establishment you worked in, as I haven’t had the chance to visit every bar and restaurant in the country. Was it a dive bar? Fine dining? Nightclub? Let me know. Some of us in fine dining are actually looking for people who come up from high-volume chain restaurants. You never know, so don’t be shy, and do be as specific as possible.
Step Four: Mention Your Education
Yes, it’s “just” a foodservice job. No, you don’t need a PhD to do it. But having some education shows that you’re a little more well-rounded than other applicants. And hey, you spent $50,000 on that philosophy degree, so get some mileage out of it. You don’t need to go into great detail here; I honestly don’t care what your GPA was, mine wasn’t great. Just list it and move on.
Step Five: Awards and Recognition
We’re at an age where many of us have won an award or two, or gotten some press during our career. Do not let this go to waste. I know it’s hard to kind of toot your own horn, believe me. I hate it. But the local weekly paper named you Best Bartender, or if someone said something nice about you in print, you’ve gotta use that to your advantage. You don’t have to dwell on it, just put it down; you earned it.
Step Six: References Can Be Listed or Not
I prefer not to list references on my resume unless absolutely necessary. But I’m me, and a prospective employer can easily look me up on the web and verify that I’ve done what I’ve said I’ve done. But maybe you have a big name reference you want to lead with. Maybe you don’t have a ton of experience and want to fill out the page a little more. Whatever you choose, don’t worry about it. An employer should be comfortable asking you for references if they’re not listed on your resume. Just remember that personal references are pretty much worthless: if I’m a total idiot, then giving someone a reference from one of my idiot friends isn’t going to help me much. Select former employers, managers, teachers, even co-workers.
I hope this tutorial has helped, and that you’re on your way to writing a successful resume. If you’d like to download a Google Docs version of my resume that you can make your own, you can do that here. Good luck out there!