Getting the groundwork started:
When you are writing your cover letter or writing your application form always try to remember the passion that attracted you to your profession in the early days.
Check your social media accounts and make sure you are presenting yourself professionally and that there is nothing untoward on there, that may paint you in a bad light.
Go over your journey, no matter how long or short it is, and pick out and highlight key areas that made a pivotal point in your career. Take inventory of what you are bringing to the table and how it can impact on their enhancement.
Tips for your C.V.:
Show in your C.V. that you are detail-oriented by making sure you use spellcheck (it’s free so use it), have good flow and that your summary matches up with your actual qualifications and experience.
Show your ability to manage costs by quantifying what you’ve done with food and beverage costs. Show it on your C.V..
Have real-life examples of when these have happened to back up what you say.
If you have gaps on the C.V. or have hopped from job to job, be prepared to answer questions about it. Recognize that there may be some judgement about it and just be prepared with an answer. Address short stints on your C.V. in your cover letter so you can make it to the interview.
Showcase how you interact and work well with other people. Temperament will be more important than ever right now.
Get past the electronic screening of C.V.s by putting specific keywords in your C.V.. Look at keywords used in the job description. Weave those keywords throughout your C.V. so that yours stands out. There are some fantastic companies out there that will write a professional C.V. that know how to compensate for these grey areas.
How to handle references on a C.V.:
Employers want to see professional references from an educator or previous employer, they need to back up what you are saying, do not use your friends or family.
Use this time to reconnect with your references. They may have had a job change, too, and you want to make sure their information on your C.V. is up to date.
It’s okay to ask that an interviewer not contact your current employer because you haven’t decided if you’re leaving yet.
How to ace any kind of interview (phone, web, in person):
Take control of the interview and present your story. Be prepared to answer questions about how you’ve acted with insubordinate employees or how you engage others when creating menus, etc. Demonstrate your ability to be a problem solver and a leader.
Show that you intend to be there for a long time by asking the interviewers questions about a succession plan and training programs.
Research the company before the interview. Make sure you are ready to go and know who you are talking to. If it’s a phone interview, look into a mirror and stay engaged and smiling. No driving or doing something else during the interview; we can tell.
When you get past the phone interview and are invited for an in-person interview, show up looking professional and job-ready.
Having realistic expectations:
Be humble; don’t rush the experience and the progression. Be aware of all the jobs in the kitchen.
It’s easy to go up, but it’s hard to explain if you have to backtrack and go back down.
If you’re wondering about salary negotiations, use a cost of living calculator online. It changes depending on where you live. Ask around in your network, determine your range and ask for a little more. Think about what benefits such as medical and 401K are worth, too.
Networking, LinkedIn and alternative foodservice avenues:
Who you know gets you in the door, and what you know keeps you in the door. Networking is key.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated with your C.V.. Look at other profiles and organizations for ideas. (Again, there are consultants who can help enhance keywords on your LinkedIn profile so companies can find you easier).
There are other places to look for jobs outside of restaurants where foodservice is needed. Consider hotels, events, convention centers, assisted living facilities and hospitals.
Everyone has to eat. Chefs are essential workers. Figure out your skill sets and where you can use them.
Bring back some humbleness. Why are you saying no to certain things? Maybe the new situation will shine a light on that and help us take advantage of opportunities.
Qualifications give you a talking point in an interview, C.V. and your story. It may also be intriguing to your interviewer.
Being qualified is a differentiator. It sets you apart and gives you a leg up over the next chef.