Dear Waitress Confessions : Applying for a Job as a Waitress Without Experience

Dear Waitress Confessions…

“Hi there!

I decided to contact you because I am looking to start waitressing. I read some of your posts and found your stories really  interesting. I just moved to a new city (Calgary Alberta) and was wanting to try out something I would not back home, waitressing.

I’m not someone that goes to the bar often but would to get more comfortable to the restaurant environment. Can you give me some recommendations how I can start? My previous experience was in customer service. This would be a part time opportunity for me.

How should I approach or find an opportunity? Should my resume be different than my bank opportunity? How should I dress for an interview? How do I know if a restaurant want me to wear a certain type of clothing I’m not comfortable with, example Moxies. Thank you so much for your time, hope you can help me with overcoming this experience.”  ~Kitty


Dear Kitty…

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to write!

Part time waitressing is great, especially if you are just looking for make some extra cash on the side.  Since this would be your first experience waitressing, you may have to opt for “less fancier” restaurants.  Higher end restaurants ask for years of experience and it is very competitive.

The best approach, in my own opinion, would be to look for places that are willing to hire based on your experience working in customer service.  Even if you have no servingg experience, they may be just dying to find someone who excels in that area.  That, in my opinion, is definitely worth a shot.

Your resume should reflect exactly who you are and what skills you believe you have in order to convince them to give you a chance.  Are you a good multitasker?  Are you active? Do you learn quickly? Are you great with people?  Take the time to think of the great qualities it takes to be a waitress.

As for the interview process, it could depend a lot on what type of restaurant, but I would always for for the professional look.  Wear your hair up in a very professional, clean cut way if you have long hair.  Working in the restaurant business, you always need to have your hair tied up.  It will give them the chance to see what you would look like that way.

Upon entering a restaurant, have a pen ready, ask to speak with the manager and be really nice to the hostess since they will be the one who is going between you and the manager.  If you’re rude to her and if she is very close and open with the manager, she may tell him that you aren’t worth his time and miss out.  Find out when the quiet hours are to go in order to meet the manager/owner face to face, because there is nothing worse to a manager than having someone come in during a rush. Do NOT be that person…shows you don’t know how the restaurant business works.  Call in advance to find out when the best time would be.

Smile…..A LOT!  But, you know, not in a scary way.  Ask questions and be honest.  If you’re concerned about what a restaurant would want you to wear, then ask them what the dress code is and if there are any ways around that.  If you’re not comfortable with the dress code then move on to another restaurant.  You’ll be saving yourself the trouble and won’t be wasting their time either.

Also, there is nothing that people in the restaurant hate more (ok—im exaggerating just a bit) than someone who says that they have more experience than they do.  Because they will be able to tell right away.  It’s just the way it is.

I wish you all the luck in the world!

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Applying for a Job at a Restaurant: When To Bring Your Resume
Tip of the Day: Looking to Work in a Restaurant


Tip of the Day: Looking to Work in a Restaurant

Are you looking for a job as a server?

Elixir Restaurant Waiter
Photo by: OPUS Hotels

Unfortunately, if you’re inexperienced in the field of serving tables, you may be fresh out of luck.  Most restaurants require a minimum of 2 years experience in order to even be considered an interesting candidate.  The thing is, most restaurants don’t want to train you on the basics of how to be a server. They want to train you how to be a server in their restaurant.  So, the more experience you have, the better.

If you’ve never worked in a restaurant before and really want to become a server, you may have to work your way up to it.  When you’re handing in your resume to a restaurant and ask to speak with a manager about a server position, you may be asked what type of experience you have.  If you say “none”, they may ask if you’d be interested in being a hostess or runner instead.  You may want to consider trying one of those jobs if you are serious about eventually serving tables.  If you take one of those positions and learn quickly, the managers or owners may consider bumping you up to waiter/waitress and then you’ll get the experience you need to become a full time server.

You can always try looking for restaurants who don’t mind if you have experience or not.  There are places that like to hire their staff from scratch so that they can mold them into the type of workers they need.  This happens less so in fancy, five-star restaurants so be aware of the type of restaurants that will take you with no experience.  So, call around and make a list of potential restaurants to hand in your resume to.


Applying for a Job at a Restaurant: When To Bring Your Resume

Craft Based Learning
Photo by Les Roches

AS YOU ALL KNOW, there is a time and place for everything.  This includes when it’s time to start printing out those ol’ resumes and finding a new job.  Before you head out with guns a blazin’ and showing off that Go Get’em attitude, take a moment to think about what you’re applying for.

Are you applying for hostess? Waiter? Bartender?  Which restaurants are you going to go to?  Are they breakfast places, all you can eat buffets, or sports bar and grills?

It’s extremely important to know where you’re going to be applying.

Why, might you ask?  Because different restaurants, diners, and bars have different RUSH HOURS.  Now, what are rush hours? Rush hours are times where restaurants are at their busiest. For example, a 24-hour McDonald’s might get a rush at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. because that’s around closing times for bars, or a breakfast place might be around 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

So…think about it.  All restaurants have certain times when they get bombarded by customers and don’t have the time for anything other than serving those hungry guests.  DO NOT just show up at a romantic dinner restaurant at 6 o’clock on a Saturday night hoping to hand your resume personally to a manager.  I can tell you now, it ain’t going to happen.  So, plan your route according to the time of the day. You don’t want to bring your resume in mid-rush.

When is the best time for me to hand in my resume?

Well, that can vary depending on where you’re applying.  It seems like between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm are some of the best times.  It’s after the lunch rush and before the dinner rush for a lot of places.  Of course, some restaurants are closed at that time specifically for that reason, so be sure you’re going when they’re open.

Of course, it always depends on how busy the place is, too.  If you walk in a see a lot of people and the place is packed with customers, you’ll know it just may not be a good time.  You also have to take into consideration what day it is.  Weekends can be crazy if you’re at a busy restaurant, so maybe plan on going during the week.  Every day is different in the restaurant business and sometimes you never know when it will be busy or not.  I guess that’s the rough part about the food and service industry.

What else can I do to be sure that I don’t bring my resume in mid-rush?

Why not try calling the restaurants ahead of time and asking when the best time to bring your resume would be?  It’s a quick fix and I’m sure they’ll appreciate that you are doing your best to not disturb them during the busy hours.  Not to mention, they may ask you to come in right away if they are desperately looking for someone.  You never know what could happen so be prepared.   Know what position you’re applying for and which days and hours you’re available to work.

It’s okay, I’ll wait for the manager…

When applying, try not to pressure the manager into coming to see you.  If the hostess or another employee tells you the manager is busy and that you’ll have to come back, take that into consideration.  Although it’s good to have the never-giving-up attitude, you can show that in other ways other than taking up a table and waiting for the manager to come see you.  They are quite busy at times, having to deal with the restaurant on a whole, so if you catch them at a bad time, you don’t want to be the person who bothered him during a crisis at work.  You want to be the person who did it right.  Make sure you’re on their good side.

Show them you understand the restaurant business.

Never (and I do mean NEVER) bring in your resume during the busy hours.  You’ll leave a bad impression and your application may end up getting lost in the process.  When everything is crazy and out of control and the whole staff is focused on the diners, it’s easy to misplace things that don’t matter in that moment.  You want to stand out and be known that you know how the restaurant business works and know better than to come while it’s busy.  You need to show that.  Follow all this and you should have no problem with your first impression.

The Waitress Confessions