For many people, young and old, a job as a waiter or waitress might seem ideal. The hours are – usually – flexible, you receive daily pay in the form of tips, and it can be a fun place to work. The problem, of course, is that many see wait-staff positions as entry level positions or a job to take until something better comes along. This means that restaurants are flooded with applications, most of which usually end up in a pile in the manager’s office. How do you make your application stand-out from the rest; how do rise to the top of that pile of paper?
First is, as in so many endeavors, attitude. Realize that restaurant managers take the hiring of any person very seriously and this may be more so with the wait staff. After all, it is the waiters and waitresses who have direct contact with the restaurant’s paying guests. One of the worst things you can do is, when asked as you are turning in the application, if you’re looking for a job, you reply, “Whatever!”
Second is the type of restaurant. There are fast food restaurants; some cater to the family while others aim at the young adult niche; some are chains while others are for “locals”; and there are also those that are “exclusive”. You will want to make certain that your personality and demeanor – as well as experience and expectations – matches the place to which you apply.
Third is the job search. If you peruse the papers or internet job ads, you will see listings, of course. But there may be restaurants that do not post to the general public, but go through employment agencies, usually the more exclusive type. Scan the ads, but also keep in mind that if you are looking for a high-end establishment, you may need to go through an agency.
Fourth is timing. While restaurants are opened year round, there are seasonal aspects to the work. If you want to work in a beach community, summer is the peak season; in ski areas, it is the winter. College towns see a peak during the school year but of course there will be a lot of college kids applying. This means you want to be ahead of the curve, getting your application in before the seasonal rush and avalanche of applications begins.
Above all else, the best advice for submitting an application is face-to-face contact with the manager. Often, an applicant will simply hand their form to the hostess or bartender and be on their way (that’s how the pile in the manager’s office gets so big). It will be to your advantage if the manager can associate a face with the application. So, make sure your dress and manner are positive and appealing, go to the restaurant in their slow time, usually in the afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00, ask for the manager and give them your application directly.
There’s a ongoing need for wait staff in restaurants and there are a lot of people applying for those positions. Here’s hoping you find the job you’re looking for.
By Joe Fairchild - Joe who writes for Nexxt, has a strong background in employee training and customer service. Semi-retired, he continues working in the hospitality industry for the customer interaction and travel discounts. A veteran financial advisor and public speaker, he delights in helping others find their path and achieve their goals. Read more of his blogs at HospitalityJobsiteBlog.com.