Despite my many diatribes demeaning the restaurant industry and the employees within it, a restaurant job is a decent form of employment. It’s honest work that has plenty of monetary and career-advancement upsides. It has flexible, non-traditional hours. It teaches you to interact with all sorts of people, mostly the insane, and gives you a light and steady workout that mixes cardio with strength training (although if you’re anything like my co-workers, the only lifting you’ll do is the lifting of a cup of coffee to your herpes-stained lips while you watch me do all the sidework).
Practically everyday, however, some jokeball-hobo-in-training will blindlessly saunter into my fine dining restaurant and ask for an application, oblivious of all that he or she should do to properly secure a job at a nice restaurant. Since I am both a mentor and teacher to you, I really feel that I should instruct all of you, dear readers, on How to Get a Restaurant Job.
1. Prepare and print a resume.
Search with Google for a “professional resume template” and, after choosing a conservative and modern design, create a clear and detailed portrait of yourself with active and unpretentious language. Since the restaurant managers who read your resumes are probably community college drop-outs, keep everything simple. Keep it to one page! Restaurant managers have horrible ADHD and will quickly lose interest after a single page. If restaurant managers were prolific readers, they’d be doing something besides spending 12 hours a day comp’ing off birthday desserts and running reports in Aloha. If restaurant managers were prolific readers, I’d be mildly concerned that they’d be reading this blog. But they’re not. Anyway, focus your resume on positions where you dealt directly with food or in customer service. Don’t bog down your resume with your extensive Management Consulting background, even if you, like me, have a long and storied history as a successful elite Management Consultant. And go ahead and recycle some of your souvenir cans of Heineken and spring for higher quality paper, too. Don’t put your picture on the resume. It’s not going to help YOU. Trust me.
2. Dress for an interview. You’ll never get marked down for dressing too nicely; any business-meeting ensemble that you put together will always be better than the Forever 21 Outlet outfit you normally sport for weddings and funerals. Put on a tie or, if you’re a woman, a tasteful pair of pumps. For you men, too, leave the Vans and Converse All Stars in your Toyota Yaris and scrounge up a pair of black dress shoes from the nearest Goodwill Store. The Goodwill Store: Where You’re Either the Giver or the Receiver. And right now, you’re the receiver. Anyway, don’t be like all the Generation Y hipsters who apply for jobs in my restaurants wearing torn skinny jeans and T-shirts of bands that never sell records precisely because their records aren’t worth buying. You’ll have plenty of time to wear skinny jeans (when you’re supposed to be wearing black dress slacks) after you actually get the job.
3. Bring a F***ing Pen. And again, I absolutely understand that my fellow coworkers, all of whom are Servers-for-Life(TM) with nearly two decades of semi-consecutive employment in restaurants, still forget to bring pens (and lighters…..and wine keys….and writing pads) to work; please pay no attention to them. They’re the same people who, day after day, use the most expensive paper in the restaurant—thermal printer paper—to scribble down orders with dyslexic handwriting. Unless you want to be 74 years old and still driving a beat-up 1998 Honda CRX hatchback to a job where you wear a nametag, they’re not people you should emulate. Instead, you should bring a m*****f****** pen with you on your restaurant job search. It’s the first thing we notice when you ask for an application. Well, it’s the second thing. The first thing we notice is when you ask for an application:
4. Ask for applications Monday through Friday between 3 and 4 pm. Do not come in during the lunch rush. Do not come in during the dinner rush. Do not, as one particularly famous job-seeker did, come in at noon during brunch on Sunday, through a side door, and ask a server carrying a tray full of drinks if you can see the manager. Make your application count by coming in and bothering the hostess at the most appropriate time: when she’s least busy. This is also the time when you’re most likely to see the manager. Trust me—I work 50 hours a week at restaurants and even I don’t see a manager more than a couple times per day.
5. Have some availability. Since restaurants are driven by nights and weekends, your chances of being hired are really hurt if you’re unable to work any times besides, say, Monday through Thursday from 12 pm to 3:15 pm and Fridays from 11 am to 2 pm. This is not a bank, friends. I know that many guests come in and randomly ask for change or, even better, cash withdrawals on their credit cards so they can tip the valet $1, but this is not a bank with banker’s hours. By the way, most banks are open on weekends now. So should your availability be. After you’ve established yourself at a restaurant, you can start to ask for certain weekend days off, much like all my coworkers who constantly complain that they need money and shifts and yet constantly ask for 15 days off per month, including holidays and Sundays. Seriously. Who are these people? They are my coworkers. “Man, I only got three shifts this week! Yeah, I know that I asked for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off this week, but still.” These are my coworkers.
6. Don’t cheat on the Server’s Test with your cellphone. When most of your entire application sounds like the ramblings of a drunk 7-year-old writing with a sprained left hand but your server’s test contains answers that directly match large passages from Wikipedia, it’s pretty clear that you’re cheating. I mean, our restaurant managers aren’t the sharpest tools in the toolbox—they’re not the fastest dogs at the dog park—they’re not the brightest bulbs in packages of differently-bright-bulbs—but even they can figure that out. They’re not exactly in line to be detective consultants on a new production of Law & Order: Newport Beach (mostly Yacht Thefts), but even our restaurant managers are smart enough to figure out if you’re cheating. Our restaurant managers need calculators to count the change in our change drawers but even they can outsmart you and your remedial cheating skills. Besides, why are you cheating on a server’s test? If you’re cheating on a server’s test, perhaps you should consider more preparation or a more entry-level restaurant. Seriously. Lance Armstrong looks at you and goes, “Seriously? You’re cheating? On this?” So don’t do it.
I hope this helps. Ultimately, the best advice I can give all you aspiring future waiters-in-training is this: if my coworkers could get hired here, so can YOU.