Here at Fat Drunk And Happy we enjoy sharing our wealth of insider information via our food podcast, some of it good and some of it the gritty truth. So we are gonna tip you off on how to find your dream job in the Food and Beverage industry but also, more importantly, how to get one they love. Ahhh, that’s the tricky part. Anyone can get a job making sandwiches at Subway, but is that really your aspiration? Restaurant life can be tough but why make it tougher.
1- Be open to possibilities - If you wake up every morning with the “everything is stupid and nothing’s ever going to work out” attitude, guess what? I guarantee that’s the way it’s gonna go down. There are two reasons for this; One-you are setting yourself up for failure before your little foot-o-mobiles ever hit the floor and; Two-nobody likes being around that kind of energy except people of the same mindset. And people with that mindset generally don’t get much accomplished. Be positive, good energy begets good energy and it’s an attractive quality for a potential employer. Smile. Be nice. Everything’s easier that way.
2- Don’t make phone calls - You know who calls restaurants looking for a job? Unemployed spoiled brat kids still living at home who are trying to get their parents off their back about not working. That’s who. And you don’t want potential employers to assume you are that person. Nothing irritates a restaurant manager more than getting the “Are you guys hiring?’ phone call. I actually just slam the phone down when I get them; maybe they’ll take the hint. Calling a restaurant looking for work is worse for you than NOT calling a restaurant looking for work. What are they supposed to say? “Sure we are! Thanks for calling during our lunch rush! Why don’t you come down here so I can slap you?” It is, however, okay to call for a follow-up on an application or interview during appropriate hours. So when is that? Well, it’s not an exact science but here’s some pointers. If it’s a regular breakfast-lunch-dinner joint your best bet is to catch someone of importance just after the lunch rush. Calling before lunch or during breakfast hours is probably not the best idea, managers are usually making sure the shop is getting set for the day or handling one of the endless minor crisis that haunt the industry. Unless instructed to do so NEVER call after 5pm. Both front and back of house are probably getting rolling for the evening and you don’t want to be a disruption. Most of all BE NICE ON THE PHONE! I have made decisions on whether to hire someone or not just on how they spoke with via a phone call. Phrases like “Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time’ or “If you’re too busy to talk I’ll call later” go a long way here.
3- Ask your friends - A lot of small restaurants and Chefs tend to hire within their “family” sort to speak, in other words hiring friends of current employed via word of mouth. Personally, I would never hire someone unless I knew him or her either directly or through a friend. You can teach anyone to work in a restaurant, but you can’t teach integrity. People either have it or they don’t.
4- Hit the bricks - I thought it was bullshit when my father told me looking for a job was like having a job. I was wrong. If you are currently unemployed you should be looking/thinking/thinking about looking 8hrs a day. Put down the bong, you’ll do just fine.
5- Handling Online Apps - Online applications are great for an intro but should always be followed up by a visit and resume in person. Also, I don’t know why or when people started putting headshots on their resume but, unless you’re a stripper, don’t do it.
6- Observe and Orient - There is a bit of arcane knowledge called the OODA loop, conceived by a fighter pilot named John Boyd and currently used by special forces and gung-ho corporate types. OODA stands for “Observe-Orient-Decide-Act’, I’ll spare you the details but if you ever want to read about it it’s quite fascinating. The most important part of finding your dream restaurant job is evaluating your situation (observing) and pointing (orienting) yourself in the right direction. Where do YOU like to hang out? If you have friends in the industry where do THEY work? I guarantee you will be way happier working with people you know at a place you like being anyway. Do you really want to work at the corner deli where everyone looks strung-out and miserable? Probably not. Do you want to work at the place where they have a great product/brand and everyone looks stoked? Probably. Remember!!!!! Shitty restaurants are owned by shitty people, run by shitty managers, and employ shitty crew. Avoid them at all costs.
7- Look professional but approachable - The restaurant business varies widely in levels of service, but one thing is true-restaurant people tend to be a bit more casual than the 9-5 cubicle dwellers. Unless you are trying for a corporate-level management position try and take it easy.
Gentlemen - Generally speaking a nice, casual button-up shirt is fine. Stay away from black, everyone wants to meet Johnny Cash but nobody wants to hire him. Nice jeans might be okay depending on the shop, but I’d find some hip pants. How you wear your hair at Coachella and how you wear your hair at work are two different things, keep it utilitarian. SHAVE DAMMIT! You can look edgy after you get the job. No Axe body spray. Ever. It’s offensive. Same thing as the ladies, extra resume, leave the cell phone in the car.
Ladies - Hair-up is always nice; most shops are going to require it anyway if you are working the floor. Dresses are overkill, however a nice casual skirt is okay. Leave your purse in the car, you look way more professional and together if you’re not lugging around your junk drawer. Throttle back on the makeup, keep it natural. Have glasses? Wear ‘em! Leave your cel phone in the car. MAKE SURE you have a plain file folder with two extra copies of your resume. So that’s our own two cents from the team here at Fat Drunk And Happy. Our best advice is to go other and get ‘em! And there is no substitute for momentum in the restaurant world, always be moving whether in the kitchen, behind the bar or in your job hunt.