by Darcy O'Neil on August 2010
When you first decide you want to be a bartender, you usually pick up a book or two about cocktails and then maybe sign up for a bartending course. All of this effort will get you started, but bar schools usually don't impress employers, they want experience. Knowing all of your cocktails is great too, but just because you know them doesn't mean you can make them on a night when you are so behind it's yesterday again. A seasoned bartender thinks clearly under pressure, rookies, not so much. So how do you get behind the wood if you don't have experience? That is one of life's great paradoxes. At one point every bartender had no experience, so it's possible to become one. Aside from slogging it out and being persistent, a good resume can help your case. Here's my bartending resume that got me employed behind the wood.
When I decide to pick bartending as a new career choice I did the usual things, but because I was older I understood a bit better what employers wanted. They want people to put effort into things, that is what they want. It is pretty simple, if you look like a slob, dress like a slob and smell like a slob, when you go to an interview, it is unlikely that you will land any job, even that of a sewage remediation technician. So dressing properly to drop off a resume is the start, but you can look like a million bucks, but if your resume looks like crap, then it was a waste of time.
A good looking resume will catch the eye of a potential employer. If you put effort into the resume, then the automatic assumption is that you put effort into everything you do. Again first impressions count, and employers will be quick to judge you. Most bars and restaurants can be selective when it comes to hiring bartenders, everyone wants to be one and there is rarely ever a shortage of applicants.
When I landed my first real bartending job, not rent-a-tender work, it was because of my resume. One of the supervisor, Tony, at the local casino told me that he was looking through the pile of resumes and spotted mine, which is kind of colourful. He told me that he showed a number of other supervisors the resume and said he wanted to bring me in for an interview. The reasoning was; if I put that much effort into my resume, I'd probably put that much effort into working.
That's the beauty of a great resume, it makes a good first impression. I ended up getting hired and worked there for almost two years. Aside from casinos having different hiring standards than most bars, the resume still allowed me to get a job with no bartending experience. Also, the casino doesn't provide any specific bartender training, just a week or two of shadowing.
When you have no experience the main thing to say on your bartenders resume is that you will put in the effort to learn. Be enthusiastic when you write, but don't be goofy and don't be a suck up. Being funny is very good though, so if you can write with wit, then do so, everyone loves a funny bartender. Be confident, bartenders have an aura of being in control. Be truthful, don't try to lie your way behind the bar, it won't work. Individualize each resume for each bar. Don't go into the local bikers hangout and hand the owner a resume that espouses how great a classic Singapore Sling is and that your favourite new cocktail component is elder flower cordial!
When you land your first gig, work hard when you land the job, because the interview isn't over! Most employers will try you out for a night or two. Bartending isn't a walk in the park, it's probably one of the hardest jobs in the front of the house and your effort will make up for your screw ups.
Bartending Resume Example (pdf)
If you want to learn more about being a bartender please check out the Art of Drink weblog. Studying and learning cocktails, spirits and the wisdom of other bartenders is a great way to supplement your resume. Also, Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Cheryl Charming have some excellent advice for resumes.
Helpful Info for New Bartenders