Bartender Resume Guide

Bartending is a job which pretty much anybody can try their hand at, and many people continue to make a good living from the wages and tips on offer. Yet with the economy still in the doldrums and increasing numbers turning to tending bar as an option to keep themselves afloat financially, competition for employment in the hospitality industry has become quite fierce. So to stand out from the crowd you need a solid resume which is going to place you ahead of the pack as soon as a manager picks it up and reads.

This guide will provide you with all the hints, tips and advice you will need to prepare that rockstar resume, one that will ensure you stand out from an ever-growing horde of wannabe bar keeps and get your foot in the door of your bar or nightclub of choice.

The Fundamentals

Brevity, clarity and professionalism are key. Try to get everything onto a single page. You have an extremely narrow window to make an excellent impression and sell yourself to the owner or manager, and a professional, cleanly laid out resume will tell them you mean business and take care over your work. Make it impactful from the off: choose a different colour paper instead of a standard white A4 sheet, and make sure it is reasonably thick and of good quality. Format the text and headers correctly and inventively so that it screams excellence, and gives the impression that you are organized, composed, have an eye for detail and a solid work ethic. You don’t need to attach a photograph of yourself because you’re not applying for a job with a company in a far-flung tropical country. You will attend the bar in person and hand the resume over – while shaking the manager’s hand, smiling and looking them right in the eye so they don’t forget your face.

The ‘Header’

The header is at the top of the page and should immediately show the manager what they are getting, i.e. you. Put your name there, loud and proud, in a big font size which will be remembered before anybody else’s. Contact details are a must; a surprising number of people compose terrific-looking resumes but completely forget to add their phone numbers or email addresses. Whichever you decide to use – and we suggest you add as many contact details as possible – make sure you routinely check mail, and have a voicemail set up for calls on any given number. You don’t want to miss the manager’s call or not return her email for days because she will quickly move on to the next applicant on her list. Also, make sure your email address is reasonably normal and your voicemail message is professional – ‘funny’ recordings often put people off, and managers have been known to ditch a person’s resume because of them.

What You Want

Many people attach a covering letter with their resume, and if you are making a drastic career or life change (for example quitting the armed forces after thirty years and at the rank of general to tend bar!) it may need a short letter of explanation, but if this is not the case then in the interests of brevity and selling yourself quickly this can usually be folded into the start of the resume. Tell the manager/supervisor what you are applying for and why (your ‘objective’) in as short a space as possible just below the header and contact details. Five or six sentences will suffice – simple and brief, such as ‘Seeking a position as bar staff in Establishment Name. Keen to use and expand on my customer service experience gained through many years of hospitality industry work. Looking to increase my expertise while helping to increase the bar’s popularity in the community.’ Many people go on to list their credentials in a series of bullet points, so if you want to be a different voice in the crowd then avoid them altogether. Stick to the format you have just used for your ‘objective’, and just below it give a short, punchy, impressive list of reasons why these guys should hire you on the spot: ‘Experienced, organized and good-humoured bartender looking to join an exciting team at a fabulous nightclub. Love working hard and putting my extensive skills to good use. Fully qualified, TIPS certified and Bartender School trained and ready and able to work whenever needed.’ Sell yourself. Be positive in your writing. Show them you have what it takes and are more than ready to do the business behind the bar.

Bona Fides

This is where you provide proof of your reliability and experience to the owner or manager. Get your ’employment history’ down next, especially if you have previous experience of bar work or have held positions within the hospitality industry where you were engaged in customer service. Again, keep it relevant and to the point – there is no need to list every single job you’ve done since stacking shelves at Sobeys as a sixteen year old; the last three or four positions should be fine. Just make sure that if you have bar experience – no matter how small, how long ago or even if you consider it insignificant – mention it on the resume. In terms of layout, always remember it is most recent employer first, then work back in chronological order, with the name of the employer, the dates you worked there, and your role/responsibilities within the company or establishment. In your ‘education’ segment there is no need to go into depth about any college degrees or school qualifications; list them, just to show that you are intelligent, hardworking and capable of following something through to its conclusion. As with your employment history, any education that involved you having the slightest brush with an alcoholic beverage or platter of food is worth a mention, even if it was helping to serve hot dogs during the town’s summer festival back in the day. If you have experience of Bartending School, be it a cocktail creation mini-workshop over a weekend or full ‘bartending certification’ after a three week course, mention this. Bartending schools are increasingly prevalent in major cities throughout Canada and the US, and their training packages can go a long way to helping you get a position in a club, bar or restaurant, especially if you are already state qualified to work with alcohol or can breeze through a computerized POS (Point of Sale) system without the manager having to train you. The more qualified and experienced you appear on your professional-looking resume, the more chance you will stand of getting the job. And don’t be afraid to exaggerate a little: if, for example, in a previous job you created a simple cocktail that the manager placed on the drinks board outside, state that you were ‘involved in curating the drinks menu’; likewise, if you were the only bartender with a couple of servers to help, state that you were ‘shift leader’. Don’t stretch the truth too much, though – managers can be busy and/or distracted a lot of the time, but just like a fake ID they can spot a flat-out lie from a mile away.

Wrapping It Up

Your conclusion should continue in the same vein: short and sweet. If the establishment requires references, put them here. Add anything you think might tip the owner or manager completely towards you, such as hobbies that include some kind of people skills (volunteering to help out at adventure weekends; teaching people First Aid; ability to speak Spanish if you are applying in a city with a large Hispanic population, for example) or are relevant to the job you are chasing, such as a keen interest in wine tasting. Tailor your resume and final comments to the establishment in question: if you are seeking a position in a fine dining restaurant then emphasize your calm, measured and professional side, while if it is a student bar or ‘lively’ downtown venue where the music is loud and drinks will be spilled then show off your fun, adventurous and adaptable qualities.

This advice is not exhaustive but should be borne in mind before you begin writing your resume as it will serve you well. Adapt the advice any way you wish, and good luck. Just remember that the hospitality trade is not as regulated or demanding as some other industries, and managers/supervisors will not need reams of pages about your various gap year working adventures or a microscopic examination of your intellectual abilities. Short and punchy are the operative words here: bar managers are busy people who receive many applications and will barely give each resume thirty seconds of reading time. Cut the waffle, cut to the chase, and sell yourself – quickly.