How to Write a Bartending Resume

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I get so many visitors looking for tips on how to write a bartending resume that I thought I should finally post a tutorial on how to write your own. Read on, reader!

Step One: The Header.

I see a lot of resumes in my position, and you’d be surprised at just how many people leave resumes with no contact information. First, print your name in large letters. Don’t forget your mailing address (if different from your home address, always use the mailing address), phone number, and email address.

Jeffrey A Morgenthaler

69 Blahblah Street
Portland, Oregon
(503) 662-2391
notmyrealaddress@jeffreymorgenthaler.com

You want to give employers a clear way to get in touch with you, otherwise, what would be the point of having a resume?

Step Two: Skip the Objective.

For some reason, it’s been traditional to include an objective section in a resume, and I’ve never understood why. Everyone’s objective is the same: to secure a good job. No matter how you dress it up…

Objective

To find employment in a fast-paced, fun work environment.

…it always comes off sounding weak. Skip it.

Step Three: Languages and Special Skills

Believe me, if you speak a foreign language, especially Spanish, in a restaurant in this country, you’re going to be one step ahead of the game. Put it down, but don’t lie about it. If you can only count to ten in Arabic, it’s not worth mentioning.

Do you have any computer skills? I’m talking about POS (Point of Sale) systems here. Squirrel, Micros, Aloha, etc. If you’ve used a computer system at another job, put it down. More and more establishments are moving to computer systems, and having to spend two days training you how to punch in an order is only going to be a deterrent to hiring you.

How I Communicate

In The Real World..

I can read and write in French. Asking me to speak it may require a freshen-up trip to Paris.

…On A Computer

I can program a Micros point-of-sale system, and I have four years of experience with Squirrel. I speak Microsoft Windows and Macintosh with equal proficiency. I have a firm grasp on the Microsoft Office Suite, the Adobe Creative Suite, and the Macromedia Suite. I am skilled in web page design, XHTML and CSS.

On a side note, I received a resume a few weeks ago and the applicant put down that he was proficient with both Internet Explorer and Firefox. I almost had a stroke from laughing as I slid the resume into the trash.

Step Four: Education.

Yes, it’s just a foodservice job. No, you don’t need a PhD to do it. But having some education shows that you’re a little more well-rounded than other applicants. And hey, you spent $30,000 on that philosophy degree, so get some mileage out of it!

My Formal Education

Hartnell College

1989 – 1992

Salinas, California

Graduated with A.S. degree in physics.

Technical University of Budapest

1991

Budapest, Hungary

Studied Hungarian baroque architecture as part of the Boronda Art Scholarship awarded through Hartnell College.

University of Oregon

1992 – 1998

Eugene, Oregon

Graduated with bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture.

Also worth mentioning here is any special training or bar-/restaurant-related coursework. If you took a class on wine, mention it here. If you went to bartending school, put it down. Spend some time on this section. It’s almost as important as the following section.

Part Five: Work Experience.

Here’s the meat of your resume. Now, I get a lot of people asking how to fill in this section when they don’t have any bartending experience. It’s very simple: you lie. Just kidding. Always tell the truth, even if it is a bit embellished. I’ve actually hired people with “some” bartending experience only to find out that they lied about having any, and they were subsequently fired. Now I have a test that I have all my new applicants take.

Important tip: When you’re filling out the job description for each establishment you’ve worked in, I feel that it’s more important to convey a sense of what sort of place it was, rather than recounting what you did there. Face it, you did the same thing at every job: served customers, worked the cash register, and cleaned. I don’t care. What I want to know as a bar manager is what sort of establishment you worked in, as I haven’t had the chance to visit every bar and restaurant in the country. Was it a dive bar? Fine dining? Nightclub? Let me know. Some of us in fine dining are actually looking for people who come up from high-volume chain restaurants. You never know, so dont’ be shy, and do be as specific as possible.

Work Experience

El Vaquero

2005 – 2007

296 East Fifth Avenue
Eugene, Oregon

Head bartender. Tapas and Steaks. Huge menu and an enormous Spanish wine list, complemented by my menu of classic cocktails – with a twist. Priced OLCC catalog, set up Micros POS, trained a hardworking staff of bartenders, barbacks and cocktail servers, and conducted liquor classes for the staff of two restaurants. Fast-paced atmosphere, Disco Night on Thursdays, and a very demanding thirtysomething clientele.

Marche

2001 – 2005

296 East Fifth Avenue
Eugene, Oregon

Bartender/waiter. Buttoned-up black-tie service for the pre-theater crowd. Northwest cuisine done in the French bistro tradition, washed down with bottles of Pinot Noir. Huge French and Pacific Northwest wine list, dessert crowd at ten, open kitchen and bistro-style zinc-topped bar.

Chanterelle

2002

207 East Fifth Avenue #109
Eugene, Oregon

Bartender. Full-service, fine continental restaurant. Early crowd, small kitchen, tough German chef, fast pace.

The Vet’s Club

2000

1626 Willamette Street
Eugene, Oregon

Bartender. Huge thirty-five seat bar, and the hottest club in town. Late nights, stiff drinks, intense fast pace, two bartenders and a lot of smoky blues.

The Tiny Tavern

1996 – 2000

394 Blair Boulevard
Eugene, Oregon

My first bartending job. Four years, five nights a week in one of the toughest bars in town. Famous chili, pitchers of Olympia, loud music and a lot of smoke.

You should list any work experience you have here. The more food- or bar-related experience you can list, even if it’s as a barista or prep cook, the better.

Part Six: References.

I prefer not to list references on my resume (especially on the web, I don’t need people calling my former bosses at six in the morning) because I have a lot of experience here in town. However, if you’re applying for a job in another city, or if you don’t have a lot of experience, then you might want to list work-related references. Keep it under three, kid.

I hope this tutorial has helped, and that you’re now on your way to writing a successful resume. If you’re looking for more advice and/or some professional help with your bar resume, my friends Cheryl Charming and Darcy O’Neil have posted additional information at their own sites.

38 Replies to “How to Write a Bartending Resume”

  • Raniah says:

    Thank you – that was so helpful, particularly in terms of how to describe your previous work in a useful manner. Again, thank you for taking the time to help us out here in cyber space!

  • Ashlynn Manning says:

    Good at what you do, mate. Thanks for the tips- really helpful. Have to attack Brooklyn tomorrow.

  • racheal says:

    i really appreciate something so coherent and cohesive online! i bartended up in alaska, in a small town where all the businesses know you…therefore, no resume needed. when i moved away i needed something. this was it. thank you!

  • Layles says:

    Thank You so much. Love the Breakdown.

  • Kwality Kontrol says:

    I am finding it very hard to find a bartending gig. It is definitely a job to get experience, experience to get a job situation. I have worked as a barback, and got that down. I want to move onto bartending now. I took a course, but people don’t seem to consider that experience. It seems like lying is my only way to get a gig. What do you suggest?

  • Maria says:

    How to write a bartending resume!!!!

    Thank you, you are awesome, the information you posted was very helpful!!

    Maria

  • andy says:

    The best and most practical advices. Thank you.

  • Newbie says:

    Good post!!! Just one thing though, you didn’t actually say what would you like to see in an inexperienced bartender’s resume with mixology schooling. Does this mean you suggest lying?

    Thanks!

  • Jeffrey says:

    Thanks! I don’t suggest lying, in any area. Here’s what I do suggest:

    Put your mixology schooling in under the education heading, and summarize what you took from the course.

  • Lisamrie says:

    I was just wondering… i know what i should put in my resume but how should it look? i went to some websites and they show martini glasses in the background. Is that profesional?

  • Jeffrey says:

    Lisa

    Absolutely not.

    Jeff

  • Woody says:

    Thanks ! Funny how I can sling every drink in the book but as soon as they ask for a resume Im stumped. Your next ones on me. Cheers WOOD

  • Lisamrie says:

    Hi jeffrey i have a question after an interview would you suggest sending a letter thanking the person for the interview? If so what would you include in the letter?
    Lisamarie

  • Jeffrey says:

    Lisamrie

    I think that sending a thank-you letter would be a great idea. As far as what to include, how about a hundred dollar bill?

  • Ali says:

    I should of read this 5 months ago!!!

  • Annie says:

    Hello Jefferey,

    Above, you said martini background on resume (to LisaMarie) is absolutely not professional, but yet you suggest Cheryl Charming’s site, which she use it religiously. Still no? Just a little confused.

    And there’s certain bars I want to apply, but bartending school being my only experience, they prefer one w/ years of experience. Would you suggest it’s a good idea if I offer to work w/ no pay for a week to prove I’m good?

    .Annie.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Annie

    I love Cheryl dearly, but I’m still going to recommend you stick with plain white paper.

    As for landing a bartending job, take a look at this!

    Jeff

  • Annie says:

    Thanks for the advice, Jeffrey; I’m now on the mad-hunt! (And I apologize for spelling your name incorrectly before.)

    .Annie.

  • Annie says:

    Hello, Jeffrey. One more question: should I list work experience that’s not part of the bar/restaurant biz, but had supervision/training tasks involved?

    Thanks a bunch, Jeff.

    .Annie.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Annie, I don’t see why it would hurt! J

  • Annie says:

    J, thanx so much for your advice & this wonderful blog; you’re one of my fave bookmarks.

    -A-

  • keelee says:

    thank you for this, it is very appreciated and helpful, i wish you all the best:)

  • Carlos G. says:

    Mr Jeffrey i just want to say “Gracias” for this tutorial it helps a lot. Thank you one more time.

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve noticed that you give a different sort of advice than people who want me to hire them to write a resumé for me.

    I’ve also noticed a controversy between whether bartending school is necessary or not, and I wonder about that.

    In any case, thanks for sharing your opinions on the subject.

  • Andrew says:

    Keep pumping the pump for a good gig. If you have no job, take any job you can & keep looking.

    If you already have a job, you are lucky, because you can slowly single out a better one.

    Submit resumes in person to hiring manager. APPEARANCE is everything in our business.

    Put a photo on your resume.

    Be genuinely interested during the interview & ask alot of questions & write down the answers in front of the interviewer.

    Ask them ‘trap’ questions like: “What are you looking for in your next bartender”??

    After they respond say: ‘Well look no further because I am that person”.

    SHOW A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.

  • Tori says:

    Jeff – this was extremely helpful, but I have some questions that weren’t already answered here. Is a photo on the resume actually helpful? Will it keep you fresh in the hiring manager’s mind, or will it seem tacky? Also, would you submit a resume for a barbacking or cocktailing gig, or does that seem like you’re getting a little ahead of yourself?

    Thanks so much for all of the wonderful information you’ve provided so far!

  • Andrew says:

    If you think a photo on your resume is tacky, then you do no NOT have enuff confidence to be a bartender!!!!!!!!!

  • Yeah, I don’t know, Tori and Andrew. We always kind of laugh at the resumes that have photos on them, but maybe my friends and I are just pricks.

    Confidence aside, I just think it looks tacky. But if you’re applying for a job at TGI Friday’s, then by all means, drop a photo on there.

    I don’t know what you mean by getting ahead of yourself by submitting a resume for a barbacking or cocktailing gig, I think a resume is always an appropriate and professional gesture.

    Jeff

  • Tori says:

    Thanks, that helps!

  • Andrew says:

    No it’s not tacky, at all.

    If you are hideous looking then just don’t do it. The hospitality/food & beverage business is an appearance based business. The hottest bars have the hottest bartenders.

    I look good and my photo resume gets me noticed. Listen, I would never apply at TGI Fridays, that’s not my style of place. I think you should edit & rewrite that suttle/hidden insult.

    IF YOU ARE A PRETTY GIRL and you put your small photo onto a resume, then you will get noticed PERIOD. You will get the interview over the 25 others who just filled out an application only.

    The owners who I speak with say ‘I like your approach, we just toss the paperwork from the other clowns away’

    EG:
    There were over 30 applicants for an ad in the paper here in Annapolis. Only 8 of us got interviews. I was one of them. They offered me a management position, I turned them down.

    But, it has to be tastefully done, just a simple plain b&w 1 inch by 2 inch headshot. Mine was in a bartending vest & bowtie.

    If you do it properly with a smiling face & nice clothes, a candid ‘on the job’ shot, then by all means go for it. It is working fabulously well for me.

    In my opinion it just screams confidence.

  • Well, there you go, kids. Take that advice as you will.

  • Andrew says:

    In hollywood it is a prerequisite to have a very professional headshot on the resume! It’s a nutty town. My thought is inspired by jeffreymorgenthaler.com comments about bartending being so wide & diverse.

    So true that the discos will have handsome young guys & pretty sassy girls working. Whereas, an joint with a much more mature client, like fine dining, would tend to have older more professional bartenders, not sexy young guys & girls in their 20’s.

    Conversely, I do know of quite a few places that only hire men ! And I also know of places that only hire chicks!

    Every employee brings something unique & valuable to the table.
    Skills, appearance, youth, maturity, fresh attitude, seasoned player, old school, new school. There is a spot for everybody.

  • Sharon says:

    Jeffrey,

    Great tips on the resume, especially the part concerning previous work experience! Andrew is right, however, about a picture on your resume in Los Angeles. Typically you won’t be hired without one. Here it’s not considered tacky, just marketing yourself proficiently. Only in LA:)

  • >Everyone’s objective is the same: to secure a good job

    Lol, so true. I always hated that part. I wanted to just be honest instead of beating around the bush.

    “So, why do you want to work for our company?”

    Because I want a paycheck. Geez. Nothing personal against your company, but let’s be real.

  • Artak says:

    Nicely put, Jeffrey. Thank you!
    Just a side note about picture, since I see different opinions here.
    Requesting a Picture by hiring organization can be considered illegal requirement as it gives a room for segregation based on gender, race, and age.

  • Emmy says:

    What about listing the bar books you’ve read/follow?

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