For students interested in padding their stash of summertime cash, working in food service is often a popular option. But there is a method to ordering up a position.
Depending on the type of restaurant and a student’s level of experience, jobs could include server, host or hostess, line or prep cook, dishwasher or even expo (the one who puts the finishing touches on a plate before it is served to the table).
Students can boost their chances of successfully landing any one of those positions by creating a sharp-looking resume, projecting a professional appearance and interviewing well.
In the summer, an employer at a restaurant could have 40 people apply for a server position. There are probably only two or three who have done those three simple things. If you’re one of those people, you’ve significantly increased your odds of earning that job.
Developing a polished resume not only showcases a student’s work experience, but also demonstrates how serious the student is about the job and reflects their organizational skills and attention to detail.
Meanwhile, projecting a professional appearance does not necessarily mean wearing a coat and tie to every interview. But, it does require business casual dress, as well as showing proper hygiene.
Is your shirt buttoned? Are you wearing appropriate clothing that isn’t too revealing? Did you take a shower? Are your fingernails clean? These seem like obvious details, but they matter, especially if you’re trying to work in the food service industry.
When it comes to the interview, students are encouraged to practice their “elevator speech” — that 20- to 30-second response to the question “tell me about yourself” — until they can deliver it smoothly.
The only way to perfect your elevator speech is to practice it with friends, with parents, in front of the mirror. It’s one of the most embarrassing things you’ll do in your life, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do.
Here are a few other tips that will boost a job-seeking student’s chances of earning a position in food service.
• It is never too early or too late to approach potential employers about job opportunities.
• Send thank-you notes immediately after interviews.
• Diligently follow up with potential employers.
• Stay organized by creating a file on each employer you contact.
Also, although restaurants typically slow down between 2 and 4 p.m., it is important to pinpoint the best time to call or visit a potential employer.
When you’re following the process correctly and you know it, the job search becomes less about finding that single job and more about seeing what’s out there.
Finally, when students do land that job, showing up on time with the right attitude is critical.
Always be willing to try, especially if it’s your first job, and do it with some gusto. Effort is important. From a manager’s perspective, a dishwasher is just as important as his front of the house manager because he can’t run his restaurant if the dishes don’t get washed.