How to Write a Bartending Resume/CV

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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.

You want to give employers a clear way to get in touch with you, otherwise, what would be the point of having a resume?

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.

Have lots of special skills and certifications? Put them into two sections to make it easier to read at a glance.

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.

Just the relevant facts. Dates, locations, and what sort of place it was.

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.

I wouldn’t spend too much time embellishing this – but don’t skip it.

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.

Anything we as employers can use to make a quick and informed decision about you is appreciated.

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 just put this little disclaimer underneath or on top of my work history and call it a day.

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!

38 Replies to “How to Write a Bartending Resume/CV”

  • Emmy says:

    What about listing the bar books you’ve read/follow?

  • Artak says:

    Nicely put, Jeffrey. Thank you!
    Just a side note about picture, since I see different opinions here.
    Requesting a Picture by hiring organization can be considered illegal requirement as it gives a room for segregation based on gender, race, and age.

  • >Everyone’s objective is the same: to secure a good job

    Lol, so true. I always hated that part. I wanted to just be honest instead of beating around the bush.

    “So, why do you want to work for our company?”

    Because I want a paycheck. Geez. Nothing personal against your company, but let’s be real.

  • Sharon says:

    Jeffrey,

    Great tips on the resume, especially the part concerning previous work experience! Andrew is right, however, about a picture on your resume in Los Angeles. Typically you won’t be hired without one. Here it’s not considered tacky, just marketing yourself proficiently. Only in LA:)

  • Andrew says:

    In hollywood it is a prerequisite to have a very professional headshot on the resume! It’s a nutty town. My thought is inspired by jeffreymorgenthaler.com comments about bartending being so wide & diverse.

    So true that the discos will have handsome young guys & pretty sassy girls working. Whereas, an joint with a much more mature client, like fine dining, would tend to have older more professional bartenders, not sexy young guys & girls in their 20’s.

    Conversely, I do know of quite a few places that only hire men ! And I also know of places that only hire chicks!

    Every employee brings something unique & valuable to the table.
    Skills, appearance, youth, maturity, fresh attitude, seasoned player, old school, new school. There is a spot for everybody.

  • Well, there you go, kids. Take that advice as you will.

  • Andrew says:

    No it’s not tacky, at all.

    If you are hideous looking then just don’t do it. The hospitality/food & beverage business is an appearance based business. The hottest bars have the hottest bartenders.

    I look good and my photo resume gets me noticed. Listen, I would never apply at TGI Fridays, that’s not my style of place. I think you should edit & rewrite that suttle/hidden insult.

    IF YOU ARE A PRETTY GIRL and you put your small photo onto a resume, then you will get noticed PERIOD. You will get the interview over the 25 others who just filled out an application only.

    The owners who I speak with say ‘I like your approach, we just toss the paperwork from the other clowns away’

    EG:
    There were over 30 applicants for an ad in the paper here in Annapolis. Only 8 of us got interviews. I was one of them. They offered me a management position, I turned them down.

    But, it has to be tastefully done, just a simple plain b&w 1 inch by 2 inch headshot. Mine was in a bartending vest & bowtie.

    If you do it properly with a smiling face & nice clothes, a candid ‘on the job’ shot, then by all means go for it. It is working fabulously well for me.

    In my opinion it just screams confidence.

  • Tori says:

    Thanks, that helps!

  • Yeah, I don’t know, Tori and Andrew. We always kind of laugh at the resumes that have photos on them, but maybe my friends and I are just pricks.

    Confidence aside, I just think it looks tacky. But if you’re applying for a job at TGI Friday’s, then by all means, drop a photo on there.

    I don’t know what you mean by getting ahead of yourself by submitting a resume for a barbacking or cocktailing gig, I think a resume is always an appropriate and professional gesture.

    Jeff

  • Andrew says:

    If you think a photo on your resume is tacky, then you do no NOT have enuff confidence to be a bartender!!!!!!!!!

  • Tori says:

    Jeff – this was extremely helpful, but I have some questions that weren’t already answered here. Is a photo on the resume actually helpful? Will it keep you fresh in the hiring manager’s mind, or will it seem tacky? Also, would you submit a resume for a barbacking or cocktailing gig, or does that seem like you’re getting a little ahead of yourself?

    Thanks so much for all of the wonderful information you’ve provided so far!

  • Andrew says:

    Keep pumping the pump for a good gig. If you have no job, take any job you can & keep looking.

    If you already have a job, you are lucky, because you can slowly single out a better one.

    Submit resumes in person to hiring manager. APPEARANCE is everything in our business.

    Put a photo on your resume.

    Be genuinely interested during the interview & ask alot of questions & write down the answers in front of the interviewer.

    Ask them ‘trap’ questions like: “What are you looking for in your next bartender”??

    After they respond say: ‘Well look no further because I am that person”.

    SHOW A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve noticed that you give a different sort of advice than people who want me to hire them to write a resumé for me.

    I’ve also noticed a controversy between whether bartending school is necessary or not, and I wonder about that.

    In any case, thanks for sharing your opinions on the subject.

  • Carlos G. says:

    Mr Jeffrey i just want to say “Gracias” for this tutorial it helps a lot. Thank you one more time.

  • keelee says:

    thank you for this, it is very appreciated and helpful, i wish you all the best:)

  • Annie says:

    J, thanx so much for your advice & this wonderful blog; you’re one of my fave bookmarks.

    -A-

  • Jeffrey says:

    Annie, I don’t see why it would hurt! J

  • Annie says:

    Hello, Jeffrey. One more question: should I list work experience that’s not part of the bar/restaurant biz, but had supervision/training tasks involved?

    Thanks a bunch, Jeff.

    .Annie.

  • Annie says:

    Thanks for the advice, Jeffrey; I’m now on the mad-hunt! (And I apologize for spelling your name incorrectly before.)

    .Annie.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Annie

    I love Cheryl dearly, but I’m still going to recommend you stick with plain white paper.

    As for landing a bartending job, take a look at this!

    Jeff

  • Annie says:

    Hello Jefferey,

    Above, you said martini background on resume (to LisaMarie) is absolutely not professional, but yet you suggest Cheryl Charming’s site, which she use it religiously. Still no? Just a little confused.

    And there’s certain bars I want to apply, but bartending school being my only experience, they prefer one w/ years of experience. Would you suggest it’s a good idea if I offer to work w/ no pay for a week to prove I’m good?

    .Annie.

  • Ali says:

    I should of read this 5 months ago!!!

  • Jeffrey says:

    Lisamrie

    I think that sending a thank-you letter would be a great idea. As far as what to include, how about a hundred dollar bill?

  • Lisamrie says:

    Hi jeffrey i have a question after an interview would you suggest sending a letter thanking the person for the interview? If so what would you include in the letter?
    Lisamarie

  • Woody says:

    Thanks ! Funny how I can sling every drink in the book but as soon as they ask for a resume Im stumped. Your next ones on me. Cheers WOOD

  • Jeffrey says:

    Lisa

    Absolutely not.

    Jeff

  • Lisamrie says:

    I was just wondering… i know what i should put in my resume but how should it look? i went to some websites and they show martini glasses in the background. Is that profesional?

  • Jeffrey says:

    Thanks! I don’t suggest lying, in any area. Here’s what I do suggest:

    Put your mixology schooling in under the education heading, and summarize what you took from the course.

  • Newbie says:

    Good post!!! Just one thing though, you didn’t actually say what would you like to see in an inexperienced bartender’s resume with mixology schooling. Does this mean you suggest lying?

    Thanks!

  • andy says:

    The best and most practical advices. Thank you.

  • Maria says:

    How to write a bartending resume!!!!

    Thank you, you are awesome, the information you posted was very helpful!!

    Maria

  • Kwality Kontrol says:

    I am finding it very hard to find a bartending gig. It is definitely a job to get experience, experience to get a job situation. I have worked as a barback, and got that down. I want to move onto bartending now. I took a course, but people don’t seem to consider that experience. It seems like lying is my only way to get a gig. What do you suggest?

  • Layles says:

    Thank You so much. Love the Breakdown.

  • racheal says:

    i really appreciate something so coherent and cohesive online! i bartended up in alaska, in a small town where all the businesses know you…therefore, no resume needed. when i moved away i needed something. this was it. thank you!

  • Ashlynn Manning says:

    Good at what you do, mate. Thanks for the tips- really helpful. Have to attack Brooklyn tomorrow.

  • Raniah says:

    Thank you – that was so helpful, particularly in terms of how to describe your previous work in a useful manner. Again, thank you for taking the time to help us out here in cyber space!

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