Imagine I’m a Bar Manager.

I need to hire a new bartender (or a few bartenders) to complete my team. I’ve asked all my current staff if they know of anyone, but haven’t received any candidates. I post a want ad on all of the usual job posting sites and within a few hours I have a few hundred resumes flooding my inbox. I just signed up for hours of work, (hours I don’t have!)

My next steps will be to scan the resumes and most likely stop looking when I have narrowed the number of candidates to around 5-10 for each spot that I have available. Now it’s time to look at the Resumes:

What I’m Looking For:

When I scan the resumes I’m generally going to start with your work experience as this is the meat of your resume. Where have you worked, what did you do there and how long were you there for? If you have relevant experience, then I’ll take the time to read more.

If I think you would be a good candidate, I’ll print out your resume and attach it to one of my many clipboards along with all of the other “vetted” candidates. This whole process usually takes less than a minute  for each resume.

This is a fairly common scenario for many hiring managers and it’s easy for good candidates to get lost in this process. So how do you stand out from the crowd? The first step is to have a killer resume.

How to Create a Bartender Resume that Gets you Noticed

Nail the Basics:

The structure of a resume is fairly standard. There’s just some information that you have to include, otherwise you look like an amateur. For example:

  • Applicant’s Name
  • Contact info (phone, email address, address, etc)
  • Your purpose/objective
  • Work experience
  • References.
  • You could also include any special training or awards you’ve received over the years, hobbies/special interests and education.

Before you even start, I would recommend you build out the body of your information on a separate piece of paper. Forget the formatting for now – concentrate on the content of your resume first.

Make your Resume Visually Appealing

Now that you’ve created the body of the resume, it’s time to find a template that stands out. There are a ton of websites that provide free templates for resumes. A quick Google search provided quite a few options. (Side note: you shouldn’t have to pay anything! If a website requires payment, keep looking – there are lots of genuinely free resources out there.)

If you are experienced at design, comb through websites like Pinterest or Google Images to get some good ideas for the design of your resume.

If you are not tech savvy or don’t have the patience to design your own resume, consider hiring someone on Fiverr to do it for you. It might cost between $5-10 but you’ll probably get a great looking resume without the formatting hassle.

Your Words Matter

This is your time to shine a light on your accomplishments. Make sure that light is bright and powerful and not dull and uninteresting. Use a thesaurus to replace repetitive words in your resume or to find more interesting words to use.
Condense multiple short sentences into one short, powerful thought.

The hiring manager is looking for someone who will represent their bar in front of their guests. Use your language to show that you are worth sitting down and having a conversation with!

Attention to Detail

Make sure to go through your resume with a fine tooth comb. Look for any spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and unimportant content. After you’ve read through your resume a few times, have someone that you trust read through it as well. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your resume is always helpful.

On the same note, make sure all references and any phone numbers are up to date. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve received resumes with the wrong phone number. (As you can imagine, I didn’t hire them!)

Spelling mistakes, formatting errors, and typos are not the first impression you want to leave with a new manager.

FAQ’s For Bartender Resumes

What if I don’t have any experience as a bartender?

Put whatever work history you have on your resume focusing on any customer service roles in your past. Not all of the skills will transfer over, but at least the hiring manager will know that you have worked in a customer facing role. Consider adding any team sports that you belonged to. The bar and restaurant business is very team oriented so this experience is also valuable.

I attended bartending school, should I include it on my resume?

It really depends on the bartending school that you went to. If they have a good reputation in the community then by all means put it on your resume.

While it may be counter-intuitive, my default answer is not to include it on a resume – as many potential employers see it as a sign of inexperience and naivete about the industry.

Instead of including the school’s name, look to see if the school offers job placement assistance as part of your enrollment. This may be more effective.

Should I include a cover letter with my resume?

If you are emailing your resume in, you can include any relevant information in the body of the email. This can serve as a less formal cover letter. If you are hand delivering your resume, then I would say that it depends on how “fancy” the potential job is. With a neighborhood bar, you would be fine with just a resume. With a fine dining restaurant or a speakeasy bar, then a cover letter would probably make sense.

Is it better if I email in my resume or should I drop off my resume in person?

I always recommend dropping off your resume in person and hand-delivering it to the hiring manager if possible. Here are some tips for getting your resume into a manager’s hands. If you put in the effort of hand delivering your resume, your competition is smaller. Sure hundreds of people may have emailed their resume in, but only 5 people took the time to walk their resume into the front door.

With a bit of preparation and homework, you can write a professional and eye-catching resume that will get your phone ringing. Just don’t forget to proofread (and have someone else proofread it again!) And please, please, please – make sure your phone number is correct!

“Resume – Glasses” flickr photo by flazingo_photos shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.