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How to craft your resume for a food service career
Career Track: Restaurant Service
Restaurant service focuses on interacting and assisting customers, serving them, managing menu items, maintaining kitchen supplies and managing staff. Jobs in this profession, such as food service managers, are predicted to increase by 11% by 2028 according to BLS research statistics.
Busser $21,679 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional
For this entry-level position, use a functional resume format, which focuses on your skills rather than lack of work experience. Separate your skills into categories (e.g., Practical Skills and Soft Skills), and also mention any extracurricular or volunteer work experiences you’ve had that display the right skills for busser work (e.g., volunteering as a server at a special event).
Summary: Present a combination of intangible skills, practical abilities and work experiences that best show what you can bring to the job. Look to pull skills from the job description such as, “professional cleaning experience,” “customer service expert,” “patient,” “diligently follows instructions” or “setting tables” to include in your summary. For example: “Enthusiastic restaurant worker with experience in cleaning dining areas of 50+ tables and providing excellent customer service.”
Skills to feature: Mention practical skills that speak to your ability to complete cleaning and bussing tasks (e.g., stamina, being well-organized, the ability to lift heavy loads), as well as interpersonal skills that indicate you’re a good fit for the work environment (e.g., maintaining a polite and friendly demeanor, being a team player).
Get to the next level: Keep honing your serving and culinary skills, and look for opportunities to take more initiative in improving restaurant processes, as well as additional responsibilities that go beyond your role:
- Greeting customers professionally and politely
- Completing a course relevant for the food service industry, such as a certification in customer service, or hospitality and management
- Taking on more serving duties, such as helping to serve customers during busy hours
- Assisting chefs in the kitchen with food preparation and cooking
Restaurant server$28,485 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
Use a combination format to document both the skills you can bring to restaurant service, as well as the experiences you’ve already gathered in the field.
Summary: In a few brief sentences, sum up who you are with a blend of accomplishments and relevant skills. For example: “Detail-oriented restaurant server with quick feet and 2 years of experience in 40-table restaurant”. Add any recognitions or accomplishments you’ve gained like “server of the month” to grab the recruiter’s attention.
Skills to feature: Feature technical skills like competency with computer software (e.g., point-of-sale systems) and familiarity with service needs along with soft skills like time management, patience, a polite and helpful demeanor, and attention to detail. Don’t forget to mention unique skills such as knowledge of other languages.
Get to the next level: Focus on improving your general knowledge of cuisine, wines and other beverages, and look to gain more expertise in the following:
- Complete an advanced course in customer service, hospitality or business management.
- Contribute to overall improved service by using customer feedback and collaborate with other staff.
- Take initiative in learning more about kitchen activities and take on responsibilities requiring leadership skills.
- Ensure that your customer service skills stay top-notch.
Food Service Manager $54,420 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
For a managerial level position like a food service manager, use the chronological format, which shines a spotlight on your work history, and how your career has shown consistent progress. Focus on unique achievements from past jobs rather than just listing daily tasks (e.g., give an example of how you implemented processes to improve restaurant revenue or service).
Summary: Promote skills that tie in with management, as well as your extensive work history. For example: “Detail-oriented, driven food service manager with 5 years of experience and professional knowledge of multiple cuisines”.
Skills to feature: Both technical and intangible skills should be mentioned for the position of a food service manager. “Excellent communicator,” “problem-solving skills,” “exceptional managerial qualities,” “professionally trained in customer service,” “Skilled in plating and food presentation techniques,” and “knowledge about food safety standards and regulations” are examples of abilities you can include.
Get to the next level: Make sure that every aspect of the restaurant is well maintained and good service is maintained while you’re in charge. You should also work on adding the following to your resume:
- Initiating ideas to improve overall revenue
- Being proactive about using customer feedback to improve service
- Continuing to manage, mentor, and maintain the morale of staff
- Taking on more roles assisting in the business of running the restaurant, and looking for more opportunities to demonstrate successful leadership
Career Track: Bar Management
As the name implies, bar management is focused on drink and bar services, with responsibilities including taking orders, mixing drinks for cocktails, cleaning and maintaining bar and dining areas, keeping inventory properly stocked, and providing excellent customer service.
Barback $20,342 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional
Use the functional format for this entry-level job. highlight your skills using subcategories (e.g., practical skills, soft skills), based on the specific requirements of the job, which you should glean from the job posting.
Summary: Emphasize the best skills you can bring to the job, as well as any educational credentials that tie in with barback work, such as a food service certification. For example: “Hard-working barback with proficient organizational skills and certification in food service.”
Skills to feature: List essential skills like “basic mixology,” “proficient cleaning skills,” “efficient multitasker,” “stamina to work long hours,” “quick learner” and “adaptability.”
Get to the next level: As you continue to improve your maintenance and serving skills, look into gaining more experience with the following:
- Assisting the bartender in efficiently serving customers
- Acquire a bartender certification or a customer service certificate/degree
- Hone your communication and problem-solving techniques
- Take on roles requiring direct interaction with customers, and find ways to contribute to management of the restaurant activities
Bartender $22,550 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
The combination resume format offers a blend of skills and work experience. Show the recruiter how you’ve used your abilities to bring about positive results in previous workplaces, but pick out only your most relevant skills and workplace achievements.
Summary: This section should introduce your best qualities, skills and work experience as a concise “elevator pitch.” Focus on skills that are mentioned directly in the job description, and combine them with experience and accomplishments. For example: “Hard-working bartender skilled at customer service and current wine trends.”
Skills to feature: Include both intangible skills such as “accuracy,” “excelling in stressful environments,” “detail-oriented,” “attentive and efficient” and “stamina to work long shifts,” as well as more practical abilities such as “handling cash and credit payments,” “knowledge of food and drink safety standards” and “handling inventory and dishware,”
Get to the next level: In addition to completing more training in customer service or another related area, improve on the following to get yourself more opportunities to move up:
- Take the initiative to manage and attend to bar needs during peak hours.
- Train new staff, and help them hone their mixing skills.
- Maintain the quality of all ingredients and types of alcohol used in cocktails, and show that you satisfy customers with special items and orders.
- Look to gain more responsibilities to help with business and customer service success, such as assisting management with revenue evaluation and process improvement.
Bar Manager$43,256 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
Show off the experience that has earned you consideration for this position by using the chronological format, which highlights your work history and accomplishments.
Summary: Focus on your experience, as well as the well-rounded skills you’ve developed, in short, crisp sentences. For example: “Dynamic bar manager well-versed in state alcohol and safety standards, with 6 years of experience in local bars and lounge management.”
Skills to feature: Concentrate on the important soft skills required for a management position such as, organizational skills, expert business management abilities, exceptional communication skills, being proactive and well-spoken, and leadership abilities. Combine these soft skills with key technical abilities, including inventory management, menu planning, event planning skills and knowledge of state and federal alcohol laws.
Get to the next level: Concentrate on expanding your horizons by participating in activities like event management and party planning for the restaurant, as well as improving on the following:
- Planning marketing strategies to increase patronage
- Acquiring additional certifications related to business management and bar management
- Assuming roles that require handling greater responsibility and management
Recommended food service resume templates
This layout features a streamlined design, with a fresh shade of color for the header to give it extra pop.
This template features a bold header, and uses strong horizontal lines to cleanly delineate each section.
This professional design arranges section headings in the left margin, making it easy to reference information. The monogram treatment of the job applicant’s name provides a touch of class.
Food service resume FAQ
1. How do you format your resume based on your career level?
To create an ideal resume for the position you’re applying for, follow these guidelines:
Functional resume: This format is the ideal choice for entry-level jobs, as it highlights your individual strengths and skills, rather than lack of experience.
Combination resume: Handy for intermediate-level jobs, this format focuses on relevant work experience as well as skills.
Chronological resume: Senior level positions like bar or food service manager require applicants to show an impressive job history, which is this format’s strength. Focus on your achievements and the impact you made in previous jobs in this layout.
2. What are some qualities and skills that can help you advance in your culinary career?
Focus on gaining more expertise in management duties, including overseeing work behind the scenes in the kitchen as well as the front of the house. Other important skills that signal you’re ready to step up include:
- Expert in inventory replenishment
- Verbal and written communication
- Organizational skills
- Financial acumen
- Mixology expertise
- A firm grasp on food and drink trends
- Time management and strategic planning
- Resourceful and detail-oriented
- Anticipates needs and requirements beforehand
- Quick thinking and proactive approach
- Alcohol quality and safety assurance
- Ability to work under pressure
- Knowledge of marketing and business best practices
3. What are some useful certifications and training for culinary jobs?
A high school diploma, as well as a basic graduate’s degree, is enough to get started with an entry-level job in this field. However, you should also look into courses and certificate programs that help you acquire specialized skills in areas such as the following:
- Bartending course
- Diploma in hotel management and bartending
- Professional Bartending and Flairology Course (Certificate)
- Certificate course in wine and spirits
- Advanced degree or certification in hospitality
- Degree in food service management
- Graduate course in behavioral science
- Degree or certification in business management customer service certification or training