While being a skilled cook or chef is the best way to get ahead cooking in the restaurant and food service industry, its not going to get you in the door to get an interview because potential employers haven’t seen your work to even know they should interview you. For that matter, you WON’T get an interview at all if you don’t follow some key job seeker tips and give them a resume that makes them want to talk to you. Don’t make the common mistakes most professional cooks and chefs make, follow these tips to greatly increase your chances of getting an interview.
Here are the Top 6 Job Seeker Tips when applying for a cooking or chef job, coming from the founder of Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service, Brandon O’Dell.
- Don’t just fill out the application – Applications aren’t great tools for learning about applicants of skilled positions, like cooking. They don’t have a good structure to really tell about you. There’s room for basic information and that’s about it. If you really want a job, heed this job seeker tip and share what makes you more suited for it than the other people applying, why you’re a great fit for this job, and why you love to cook. If you do have to fill out an application for a position, attach a current resume and cover letter to it. Those are the tools you need to share your skills and passion to a potential employer.
- Read the ad, follow the directions – A smart employer will include directions or details in their ad to test whether you’re actually reading it, or if you’re simply scrolling through all the ads and “resume-dumping” (applying for every job you can). Employers don’t want resume dumpers unless they don’t respect their own business or the job they’re hiring you for. They want to know you’re actually interested in working for them and that you took time to learn what the job and company is about. If they can tell you didn’t even read the ad, you might as well not apply. Memorize this job seeker tip for every job you apply for; read the ad, follow the directions.
- Keep your resume updated and complete – The purpose of a resume is to share yourself with an employer. You can’t do that if you’re lazy about your resume. Giving an employer an incomplete resume (less than the last ten years work experience), or an outdated one sends a statement to them that you’re not really interested in working for them, or that you’ll be a lazy employee if you do. Put the same kind of effort into your job hunt that you will your job, because how you conduct yourself during the job hunt is the only clue a potential restaurant or food service has about how hard you’ll work for them.
- Avoid gaps in your work history – While employers don’t want to see a lot of information about your past positions that don’t have anything to do with cooking for food service work, they also don’t want to see big gaps in your resume. Another important job seeker to is to make sure if you were out of the industry for a time, you list what you were doing. Don’t spend a lot of time on the details of the position, but also don’t leave gaps that may lead them to assume you weren’t working. If you weren’t working, and had a good reason for it, list that too. Better you don’t leave it to their imagination.
- Avoid looking like a job-hopper – A history of short tenures at multiple jobs is a red flag to potential employers. Cooks and chefs who haven’t stayed at their previous positions long tend to not last at their next one. An employer will overlook one or two short employment terms on your resume if you have a good reason for leaving, and your tenure at other jobs is longer. They know perfectly well that there are a lot of bad managers and bad restaurant jobs out there. If you’re lasting less than a year at most of them, their just going to assume you’re flighty and they’ll move on to the next candidate. If you do have a history of not staying at jobs long, follow this job seeker tip and consider leaving some of those jobs off your resume. Short tenures aren’t real experience and that employer doesn’t want to hear how you think you can “do it all” because you’ve worked at 10 different restaurants in the last 4 years.
- Know how to use a cover letter – If your cover letter reads something like, “I’m a hard worker who is eager to learn and make myself the best employee I can be for my next employer”, just forget the cover letter. Listen to this next job seeker tip very carefully and take it to heart, because THIS is the most common mistake job seekers make. Don’t put anything in a cover letter that applies to every job to which you’re applying. Statements like the one above belong in an introduction paragraph in your resume. Things that you want all potential employers to know about you belong in the resume, not the cover letter. A cover letter is where you talk about why you want to work for this company, and what skills or passion you have that make you a better fit for this particular position than any other applicant. If your cover letter is generic and isn’t speaking TO THIS EMPLOYER specifically, it isn’t going to be effective. A cover letter needs to be written new for each job you apply for. It needs to show that you looked into THIS company, and want THIS job; that you’re not just dumping your resume and the same cover letter on every job posting you can. That’s not an employee for a skilled position, that’s someone they hire to do a job anyone can do, and those jobs don’t pay as well.
Brandon O’Dell is the founder of Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service. He is also an operations and marketing consultant for the food service industry. His company, Friend That Cooks, prides itself in being “employee-centric”, offering pay and benefits not found in cooking positions elsewhere in the food service industry. If you would like to see employment opportunities available at Friend That Cooks, go to www.friendthatcooks.com/hiring.