You want a bar job. You see the bright (dimmed) lights, the glamour, the glitz, and the overflowing tip cups. You want in. You’re drawn to the nightlife like a fruit fly to lemons.

How do you find out who’s hiring?

The reality is that most bartending jobs aren’t advertised. This means that the likelihood of walking past a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of your favorite watering hole is about as likely as Nicolas Cage handing you a winning lottery ticket. If you want to win the prize, you have to play the game.

How to find Bars Looking for Staff:

Check Online

Scanning your laptop for bar jobs from the comfort of your couch might sound easy . . . but that doesn’t mean it is. Peruse the classifieds of your local paper. Check out Kijiji and Craig’s list. A lot of ads will say you need experience, but keep an open mind. Remember that if you haven’t slung drinks before, you may have to take another position to work your way up.

Word of Mouth.

This tactic works best if you have friends in the industry. Put the word out there that you’re looking for a job. Bartenders, cooks, and servers are social creatures by nature, and even if their place isn’t hiring, chances are they’ll know somewhere that is. Keep in mind that word of mouth means everything in the bar business. If you have friends to vouch for you, the chances of getting your foot in the door are all the better.

Go Fishing

The bar and restaurant game allows a unique opportunity for people new to the industry wherein you can drop by and socialize a little with the staff. In fact, management often encourages their employees to build rapportt with their clientele. Use this to your advantage.

  • Show up when the place isn’t busy. Mid-afternoon is generally prime fishing time.
  • Sit at the bar if you can, but carry yourself as if this is a preliminary interview.
  • If you have to, order a drink. (One drink, who do you think you are, David Hasselhoff?) If the place serves food, consider ordering something.
  • During conversation, simply ask if management is looking for anyone new.

BUT: Do not leave you resume with the employees while you are fishing. Do yourself a favor and come back the next day.

Show up

The best way to find out if a place is hiring is simply by dropping in. Ask for a manager, and hand them your resume. This may sound a little daunting, but management will likely be used these kind of drop-ins because, nine times out of ten, this is how the people already working there got their job.

Hit the Pavement and Be Rewarded

Keep in mind, bartenders are usually tipped quite well. These are coveted positions. If you have to put in some time working bar-back or serving positions before you get behind the bar, you will be rewarded for your patience.

JA Allen

JA Allen is a freelance writer, author, and former star of the service industry. After over a decade working from the dish-pit to management in restaurants, pubs, and night clubs all over the world, she now enjoys wasting time between chapters on the flip side of the bar.