Applying for positions in restaurant management is often overwhelming, but focusing on balance and careful evaluation of each position kept this Manager afloat. Ultimately for this author, finding a job was all about knowing her strengths and understanding the restaurants to which she was applying.
I work as a floor and hiring manager for a large restaurant group. Prior to promoting into management, I worked as a waitress in another restaurant. My college roommate was a waitress, and encouraged me to apply for a position as a hostess. She knew I had been looking for a job with a flexible schedule for about three months, and thought working at a restaurant would be a perfect solution. After interviewing I was offered a job as a waitress, but was reluctant to accept. In the end, the need for a job won out and I took the position. It was my first hospitality industry job, and I ended up loving it.
I graduated from college about a year after I had started waitressing. I was having a very hard time finding a full-time job. I applied for a management position with the restaurant I was working at, but was told that I would have to wait until several other members of the wait staff were promoted. The long term prospects were not good, so I started applying for other restaurant management positions. At first, I searched on Monster and CareerBuilder. I applied for assistant management positions and went to three or four different interviews.
I was not offered a job with any of the companies I interviewed with after applying in response to online postings. I knew that my leadership skills were strong, and thought my sociology degree was very applicable to restaurant management. Since applying for positions online had not gone well, I started driving around the greater Los Angeles area, visiting restaurants. I would sit down and have a soda or appetizer. If I liked the feel of the restaurant and thought I would fit in, I would go home and apply online for management positions. I was offered my current job about nine months after I had started looking for a full-time management position.
Online applications for management have become the norm in the restaurant industry, but I feel they seriously disadvantage the job seeker. At the time, I could not find much advice about going through online applications and phone interviews. I learned the hard way that keeping up the pace of conversation during these ‘remote’ interviews is very important. Before interviewing, I would write down a clear list of my personal attributes and qualifications. I would also write down questions I had about the position and company. As the interview progressed, I would check off the things I had already talked about. You do not get to see your interviewer’s face when talking on the phone, and it can be hard to tell when you are repeating information. I found making this check-off list essential.
I have now worked my way up in my restaurant’s management scheme and work as the hiring manager. I am responsible for hiring hourly staff and for overseeing the second and third interviews for management positions. Interacting with job seekers on a daily basis has helped me understand three key job search strategies that ultimately led to my successfully locating this job. Aside from diligence and preparation, the below helped me immensely in my search.
Visiting the businesses where I was applying. One of the advantages of working in the restaurant & hospitality industry was that I could go into each and every restaurant to which I was applying. I realize now that I sent in online applications to restaurants I had never been to, and I was not a good fit for their culture. Actually visiting the restaurants helped me focus on where I might be successful. I was also better prepared for the interview and could ask questions based upon my experience visiting the restaurant.
Knowing when I was really, truly not qualified. Bluffing about my experience in restaurants was easy. I knew the lingo used in the industry and had spent enough time hanging out with the managers from my own restaurant to have some idea of what the job would be like. I creatively added to my experience during one phone interview, but crashed and burned horribly when asked to do an on-the-job interview because I really was not prepared for the position. It was humiliating and made me look bad, and I would probably not be welcome to apply at that restaurant again.
Taking time for breaks. It was easy for me to get obsessed with my job search. I would sit in front of the computer for hours and wait for recruiters to send me emails. I monitored my phone every minute of every day. After putting on some weight and generally feeling down, I realized I needed to get up and out. I needed to take a break from the job search. Of course, finding a management position was important. I needed a job with decent pay and good benefits, and being diligent served me well as I went through the application process. But we all need a minute to breath here and there. I think taking a day or two away from the application crush ultimately made me a stronger, more balanced candidate.