432 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1T5

How to Write the Best Bartending Resume

5 tips for standing out from the crowd

bartending resume writing tipsThe following guide is meant to give you an idea of how to put together a bartending resume that you can use to apply for jobs as a bartender. The restaurant & bar industry is not a very formal industry. Many of the resume writing rules you learn in college or university about putting together a resume don’t apply. For example; if you were applying to a law firm to be a lawyer, you would expect your potential employer to read every word of your 3 page CV, then call all your references. Obviously you wouldn’t trim your accomplishments down to one page to land that job as a lawyer, but that is exactly what is expected of you in the bar industry.

Your goal when writing a resume for any job in the hospitality industry is to make your points quickly. Bar managers spend 5 – 10 seconds skimming over your resume, and call references less than 50% of the time. Many managers would rather you come in and work one night and see how you do, than spend 10 minutes calling your references. Point being, the restaurant world is much different than most when it comes to building a resume. We hope our 5 tips will give you a good idea of how to get started.

#1 The Basics

How many pages do you think a resume should be?

In the hospitality world, the correct answer is ONE! In my own experience going through hundreds of resumes over the years, I found myself looking at a resume for about 5-10 seconds before deciding if I should invite someone in for an interview, or toss it in the trash. Most managers I have worked with with over the years do the same. So as a result, you have 5-10 seconds to get your major points across, and make a good impression. If your resume is 3 pages, the really important points you want the manager to notice will likely be skimmed over.

What colour paper should you print your resume on?

Not white. You want to stand out from the crowd a little, Something professional, like an ivory colour, or a natural colour might differentiate your resume in a big pile. Thicker, nice quality paper is best. But not too crazy, no pink paper, or cloud paper please. Wander into Staples and ask at their print and copy centre what they have for paper samples and thumb through their book. If you were a hiring manager looking through bartending resumes… what kind of quality paper might you want to see?

Should you put a photo on your resume?

NO! It’s pretty difficult to get a photo on your resume and have it not look cheesy. Believe me, we have seen some pretty cheesy photos on the top corner of resumes! If you get out there and get in front of the person who does the hiring, you wont need a photo. You are going to shake the hiring managers hand while you hand them your resume. The only time we can see having a photo on the top corner of your bartending resume could be a good idea would be if your sending your resume off for a job in a different country, or maybe to a cruise line. Those companies will probably conduct their interviews over the phone, and you will never get a chance to meet the person that hires you face to face. For remote jobs, a photo might be helpful.

#2 The Top

Don’t put “resume” at the top. Just seeing your name at the top of a piece of paper that contains your goals & work history will let the reader know what they are looking at. No need to point out the obvious. You want to include your name, address, email, and phone number so if they hiring manager likes what they see they know how to contact you.

Which phone number do you put on there?

Are you planning on including your home number? The number your little brother, or roommate answers and never gives you the message? We would say your cell phone is by far the best option here. A phone number that makes sure you get all calls and messages.

You need to have voicemail!!!

Not much point running around the city applying for jobs, and then a manager decides to call you in, dials your #, and it just rings, and rings… and rings. We find that even with many of our students these days they never set up their voicemail because they prefer to text. What are the chances he is going to try calling you again later? Not 100%, so why risk it, get your voicemail set up.

What should your voicemail message say?

Keep your message simple and polite. Should you put a hilarious message on there? Your Stewie Griffin or Darth Vader voice impression? Or your best impression of a hip hop gangsta? “Yo, whats good, leave me your digits or hit me back later, peace”. Or are you too cool to have a message, dead air and then a beep, drug dealer style. Would you hire these people? We wouldn’t, we would toss that resume in the trash, and call the next person.

Your email address shouldn’t be too high school.

We have seen a few great resumes come in for bartending jobs, everything looks great, but the email address at the top is something weird like; sexigurl666@gmail.com or satansspawn@yahoo.ca. We’ve even seen something like roxysurferchick@hotmail.com along with many others that are too racy to post here. No matter how great the resume looks, its hard for us as managers to take these people seriously. So make sure your email address is a little more normal looking. Your name, with maybe a few numbers is fine. Save this email address for just job searching, and check it often.

#3 The Blurb/Objective

Should I write a cover letter?

Most of you don’t need a cover letter. We recommend putting a little blurb at the top, 3-4 sentences. Just to give a quick snapshot to the reader of who you are & what you are looking for.If you are sending your resume to Club Med, or Princess Cruise Lines, you want to include a cover letter. Explain how you want to see the world, if your ready to commit to 1 year away etc…

If you are making a major transition, for example you have 10 years of marketing jobs on your resume, and now your looking for a bartending job, you need a cover letter. The manager who is reading your resume is probably wondering what is motivating you to leave a 10 year marketing career and apply for a bartending job at a local pub. So a cover letter explaining what your looking for in a job is a great idea. For example; “After 10 years in event marketing, I have decided to go back to school full time. I am looking for a bartending job in a great establishment 2-3 nights a week for the next 2 years etc.. etc..”.

We recently had a graduate who had retired from being a corrections officer after 30 years. He was 55, and was hoping to work 2 nights a week in a pub just for something to keep himself busy. A case like this definitely needs a cover letter! Just to explain why your resume says Canada Corrections – 30 years, looking for a bartending job.

Bullet points are played out

Most managers have seen a thousand resumes with bullet points at the top listing some generic attributes; * team player, * hard worker, * honest etc… So rather than have a bunch of generic bullet points at the top of your resume (just like everyone else), we recommend writing a blurb about yourself at the top of your resume.

Example of a blurb: FUN, energetic, productive, organized, creative guy in search of a bartending position a few nights a week at at a great establishment. I am a fast learner and perform well in all situations. I recently completed an intensive 2 week Bartending training & certification course, and I am ready to contribute to your team in every way I can. Its important to include the position you are looking for (Bartender) that way 2 months later you’re not getting called for a job in the kitchen. Keep it positive, talk yourself up, and talk up the skills you picked up at bartending school, let them know your ready!

#4 The Middle

Past employment history is next

For jobs that require bachelor degrees etc.. you probably want to put your education first. But this is not a CV, its a bartending resume. Education goes after employment history. 3-4 previous employers is probably about right, nothing back too far, like gas station 10 years ago is probably not relevant anymore. Unless your job 10 years ago was your only experience in bar or restaurant. Then its relevant experience. Generally most recent job first, chronological order. You want to include:

  • Name of establishment & location
  • Dates with that company, (May 2015 – present)
  • Job Title
  • Duties and Responsibilities

This is an opportunity to create descriptions that sound relevant to the job you are applying for. If you were a Gas Station Attendant, you would mention relevant terms to the hospitality industry, like; Customer Service, Cash Handling, Retail Sales, Inventory etc.. Stay away from super technical industry jargon that a bar manager is not going to understand. Current info only! No one wants to see you handwritten updates onto your resume, or just verbally telling them in an interview that, even though it says 2004-present, you actually not at that job anymore, your at a new place etc…

Education and Certifications

Of course include any degrees or post secondary you are taking, but be brief. I’m sure you are proud of your bachelor of earth science degree, but devoting 5 lines to describing your studies isn’t relevant for the bartending job you are going after. Save those details for after you get the job when discussing life over coffee. Use this section to list off your responsible serving training, such as Serving It Right, as well as any safe food handling certificates you have. First Aid is also great to put in this section as employers like to know what additional and relevant skills they have with their staff.

Bartending School is very relevant

Managers have no idea how good you are coming out of bartending school, unless they have been through a comprehensive bartender training program or have had previous staff that also have earned a bartending certificate. Highlight some different skills or concepts we have taught you. You are confident in making over 75 different cocktails. You are able to quickly learn new recipes.  Upselling is now part of your vocabulary. In addition, you now have your Serving It Right Certificate. You have basic spirit, wine and beer knowledge. Demonstrate to the manager/reader that you are a knowledgeable bartender, and ready to work without much additional training. As you get experience bartending, and those jobs go into your employment history section, you can start to scale back the description. After you have been bartending at a couple different places for a few years, you can drop bartending school off entirely.

#5 The Bottom

What you do with the small amount of space that remains at the bottom is up to you. If you have lots of relevant job experience, hobbies, and other filler become less necessary. If you do need to fill up the page and put references or hobbies/interests down. You can choose to put 2-3 personal references These should be people who have known you more than 2 years and family or friends with decent job titles are ideal. Or you you can highlight hobbies, the more relevant to the job your going after the better. Wine tasting, flair bartending, First Aid courses are an asset, sales seminars, languages etc..

Obviously this guide is just our opinion, there are lots of approaches that might work. After looking at hundreds of resumes of people applying for bartending jobs over the years, we feel we know what works. We hope you have picked up a few tips to building a great bartending resume. Good luck out there!