Applying for a job as a bartender is a little different to most jobs – just as bar tending itself is a bit different! Here are a few handy tips for your bartender resume to get the job you want behind a great bar.

Please bear in mind, certain countries around the world have qualifications required for bartenders, specifically on alcohol awareness – this guide assumes you are legally allowed to bartend in whatever country you wish to apply in and have these baseline qualifications if they are a pre-requisite.

1: Don’t ask if they’re hiring.

This may sound a little counter intuitive, but once you’ve completed this guide and implemented the tips inside, it won’t really matter if the bar has an opening right now.

Bear in mind, if you’re a great bartender (or at least crafting the image of one that the bar owner would need to hire), you’re not going to be out of work unless you’ve just arrived in town. Rather, buy a drink, and chat to the bartender on shift about what they like about their bar, why they choose to work there. If they like their job, thats a good sign that its a place you’d want to work for one thing, so that’s a good start.

Also if you’re asking about their bar and how they like working there, they’ll probably ask you if you tend bar too, which is a great time to mention that you’re looking for something new – and now you have a rapport with the bartender, they’re likely to introduce you to the manager and may well recommend you.

2: Don’t lie.

There should be no need to write that – but unfortunately quite often people lie on job applications and bartender resumes – there’s no need and no point. If this is your first job in a bar, be honest and be prepared to start as a barback filling ice and fridges and collecting glasses to support the established bartender.

Of course you can include any relevant experience, whether it was behind a bar or not. Have you worked in high volume environments, operated a cash register, dealt with customers or clients, built a rapport, provided information, handled currency? Chances are you’ll tick a few of those boxes and those skills are transferable!

3: Focus on them.

It may sound silly, but most bar owners are not that interested that you enjoy reading and taking long walks. They will be interested however in what you can do to drive their business forward and make them more money. That doesn’t mean you have to be the best bartender in every area already, but look at your key skills and see how they could benefit the bar.

Having good customer service skills is a “feature” of you, but being able to build a rapport with guests and keeping them at the bar buying drinks is a benefit to the bar owner. If you put an objective or aim at the top of your bartender resume (and you should) make sure that this line grabs the attention of the person hiring. As an example, here was mine on my last resume:

“To drastically increase your turnover and profitability through exceptional guest service and high volume efficiency.”

It makes the person reading immediately think “This guy wants to make my bar more successful”. Its so common to see resumes focused on what the applicant can get, even when they’re positive on the surface, things like “I want to improve my knowledge of cocktails and bar culture”. Cool, you’re willing to learn, but the bar owner is paying you to make them money, so be sure to focus what you’re saying on what the person hiring needs, not what you need. Ambition to progress is good, but save that for the interview.

4: Don’t send a generic bartender resume.

Again this sounds simple but read more into it. In terms of the physical resume, make sure the layout is really nice and crisp. Spend a few bucks on some nice, heavy weight, maybe textured or coloured paper to print it on. Bars get applications all the time, normally in black and white on cheap copier paper.

I’ve seen so many plain, quite often crumpled bartender resumes with basic spelling mistakes throughout which, lets be honest, does not sell you in the right light. If you hand over (as I did) a great looking resume on heavy parchment paper, just off white, with a photograph on the front (so the manager who you hand it to remembers who they spoke to), guess what – anyone looking at the stack of plain copier sheets is going to be intrigued by your bartender resume.

A lot of people say that two pages is the maximum for a bartender resume – I know that there is no way I fit everything I want to tell them in two pages. I hand over a professional looking package, with a covering letter to the bar manager, the actual resume over a couple of pages (with your current or most recent job first, going backwards chronologically – what you do now is more important than your first job as a paperboy). Behind these are quality colour copies of any relevant qualifications I have, like first aid, cellar management, fire safety and anything else applicable to the job. Last are references.

NEVER say references available on request – get in touch with some of your previous managers, the more the better and just ask them if they would be willing to write you a reference, just a paragraph or two. For them it means they won’t have to do it on demand for any employer who asks, and it shows your new employer that you’re on the ball and anticipating their needs already.

Do include the contact details for these references as your new employer may just want to confirm that these are their words, and may have questions, but just having the testimonials right there is a great way to make your resume stand out.

Advanced tip: If you’ve had any coverage in local press from competitions, charity events and the like then include these too – bars love some press exposure, they bring more customers through the door and if you already have a profile, they will see that you can bring more attention to their business too!

5: Have fun with your bartender resume.

Remember that bars hire personalities. You’ll be the face of their company, the point of contact for the guests,  so make sure that your resume has some energy to it. You need to excite the bar manager so that he can’t help but pick up the phone and get you in for an interview.

Bear in mind what kind of bar you’re applying to, is it a theme bar playing 80’s music, a sports bar where you’ll be talking to guests about the big game or a high end hotel where you’ll need a more formal persona? Taylor the tone in your resume to the job you want and go get it!

Afterword:

My bar tending resume has got me event work, regular jobs and even taken me overseas to open luxury hotels in Dubai, and yours can too. After 14 years behind the bar and at management level I’ve seen so many terrible examples of these and not enough great ones. Make your resume really stand out in the crowd and you’ll have the bar job you want in no time! Any questions, leave them in the comments below!

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