Long gone are the six weeks’ school summer holidays where you could do nothing but laze about for days on end. We are adults now. So say hello to our “summer holidays”; aka working your butt off to dig yourself out of your student debt. To help with my financial needs I have recently got a job waitressing in a fancy hotel restaurant in Leeds and honestly, I’m terrible. But surprisingly I love it.
Even more surprising than the fact that I love it was the fact I actually got the job. Particularly with it being in a high end hotel. I had never even stepped inside a restaurant kitchen before or carried more than one plate in each hand. So here’s my tips on landing yourself a job in hospitality when you have diddly-squat prior experience.
1. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
Cliché, I know. But oh so true. I was lucky enough to have a friend who was just leaving the hotel restaurant that mentioned my name to her boss. And it really does help. Some kind of real life inception; planting a seed into your employees head before you’ve even applied. Obviously you will need to have a great application to go along with this not so subtle name drop, but it sets the ball in motion. And with waitressing being a common part-time or summer job chances are you know someone working at a restaurant.
You might be thinking now well that’s just fab, I’m already out, I don’t know anyone so I might as well quit trying. Stop please with that negative attitude. That definitely will not land you a job in hospitality, which leads me on to point number two.
2. Have a positive and infectious personality
Think of all the best experiences you’ve had at restaurants. Do any of them involve a personalityless waitress or waiter? Almost definitely not.
This point was easy for me because I am naturally an outgoing person. And a little bit weird. So this was what I focused on in my application and interview. Let them see your personality. I may have no waitressing skills, but I do have the ability to chat to anyone and stay positive, and the rest will follow with practise. If your personality is not naturally suited to being a waitress, it will be very difficult to maintain that constant front whilst at work and it will drain you; it’s much harder to keep this up than learning how to carry plates and the ins and outs of your restaurant’s menu.
If you are now questioning yourself – are you a shy person? Do you feel anxious talking to strangers? Do you lack in confidence? – I’m not saying you can’t be a waitress. Of course you can be. But I would reconsider how right for the job you are. I didn’t think there would be that much customer interaction, but since working there I can see just how important this is. And if you’re having to put that constant mask on, you may not feel fulfiled. You can check out my blog on how to just be yourself here.
Smile, smile, smile, smile, smile. I cannot say this enough, and I’m almost convinced this is why I got the job. We have a foreign kitchen porter at the restaurant whose English isn’t perfect and on my first week he told me that he loves how I smell. Smell?! Oooh err. Very confused and slightly creeped out, it took a while for me to realise he meant smile; he loves how I smile. Smell… smile… you can see his confusion.
Anyway, you get the picture. And it shows people really do notice. So show off those pearly whites a lot. Just not in a scary creepy way… don’t do that.
4. Be inquisitive
So, personality? Check. Smile? Check. Hard working? As long as you show your willingness to learn you’re in for a shot. How do you show this to your employee? During the application, make sure to use examples from previous experience. Do not just tell them you will work super duper hard. You have to prove it. This is easily done by drawing on your experiences from past jobs, in school, or any aspect of your life where you have shown commitment and thrived to be the best of the best, and achieved it.
If you go as far as getting a trial shift, whatever you do ask questions. It shows an interest in the role and a willingness to learn. Remember that no question is stupid. They will appreciate that you have never worked in a kitchen before (which is why it’s so important to be honest about experience) and appreciate that you are already craving knowledge. Which is exactly what they want, hooray! And if you’re having to fake your interest, then again, maybe waitressing isn’t for you. Inquisition is key.
And there we have it; Bob’s your uncle. So slap a huge smile on your face and go get it. Best of luck girls! Any questions or advice, you know where I am.