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Application Day
The time has come to actually fill out an application and make an effort to get a job at a restaurant which meets your specifications. There are some key things to remember here. This is not as simple as; walk in, ask for an app, fill it out and go home.
Think about things from the perspective of the restaurant’s manager or owner. Would you hire you if you were them? Be prepared for the experience, make a great impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression; after all, that’s why it’s called a first impression!

Dress for the occasion; if possible wear something similar to what the servers wear so the manager knows what you’ll look like on their floor serving tables. Actually iron your clothes, khakis should have a crease in the leg and dress shirts should have creased sleeves. Both should be free from wrinkles otherwise. TIP: use spray sizing or starch to keep the creases crisp.
Be sure you arrive with the necessary items. You should have two black ball point pens (in case one dies on you) and a listing of the information you will need for the application. Your list should include: your social security number, previous two addresses (one is usually enough, but as long as you’re going to the trouble of making a list…), your education with school names and addresses, courses of study and G.P.A., your four most recent employers including supervisor’s name and phone number and street address with ZIP code, dates employed and reason for leaving and last but not least three to four personal references (not relatives and not work related).
Should you include your resume with your application? Most restaurants do not require one and I’ve heard of a couple that think the applicant is actually overqualified for the position if they have one. On the other hand it does show you sincerely want to find a position and often you include information on your resume which is not asked for on the application like outside achievements and hobbies. This information might win you points, which is why I am on the “include a resume” side of the fence. I feel the small chance they view it negatively far outweighs the benefit it may be to you if they read it.

When you ask for the application also ask who it is that will be reading it. When you have completed it, politely ask (usually a host(ess)) if that person is available. If they are not, simply leave it with them and ask when a good time to phone would be. If they are available, ask to speak to them!
If you are able to give your application to the decision maker let them know you enjoyed dining in their restaurant. Tell them why you chose their restaurant to apply at, what you like about the business and or staff. Let them know you actually considered where you were applying and they are not just “a restaurant” which “might” hire you. Let them know how you can add value to their business. They can train anyone to be a food server but it’s difficult to train “people skills”. Be sure to let them know you have excelled with customer service elsewhere. If you don’t have that experience or this is your first job you could let them know what kinds of groups / clubs you have been involved with. Tell them why you chose their restaurant and how you, specifically, can benefit their business.
Before you leave, ask when a good time to check back would be and stick to it! Phone them (during a slow period) and ask if they have reviewed your application, sending a postal mail letter addressed to the manager you spoke to might make the difference between you being “one of the flock” and “a go-getter”. Stopping back by the restaurant and checking on your application shows the manager you want a job there, that you are interested in that particular restaurant and it wasn’t just another stop on your list of restaurants in the area!
You’re Hired, Yay!
You went through the interviews and won the manager over and now it’s time for you to start work. You have selected a restaurant which fits your needs and personality. You are set to work when and where you want. Hopefully this will equate to a good working scenario and you’ll be happy when you’re at work which is important for both your own welfare and to how much you’re going to make. If you’re happy at work it shows to your guests and they are in a better mood which makes for higher tips and happier guests.
You should be given a menu or some other training material so you can become familiar with the menu. Read and learn it! This is what you are going to be selling and the more you know about the product the more helpful you can be to the guests. The more helpful you are to the guests the more you will be able to sell and hopefully the more you will be making percentage wise. People want to know they are in good hands and if you are unsure of things it will lead them to feeling uneasy. Learn how the menu items are prepared, know how they taste and how long they take to prepare. The latter is so you can not only place orders at the correct times but also assist others who are in a hurry for whatever reason
If you work in a restaurant with a beer/wine license know which beers and wines they carry. Know what the beers compliment and which go with which entrees. People have questions about wine, it almost traumatizes some, they think it’s magic or something. If you are there with suggestions you will put them at ease and possibly save them from embarrassment with their guests. A well handled wine selection can make a good tip a great one; people don’t soon forget their “secret assistant”.
If your restaurant has a liquor license KNOW the brands of the well liquors, the call brands and most importantly the top shelf names. When someone orders a mixed drink, this can mean a $2-$5 increase in the sale, often doubling the price of the drink. Better spirits make better drinks and happier patrons.
If someone orders a martini don’t simply write down their order. Ask them if they would like a specific call spirit and do it in a way which prompts them to order one. Always ask yes questions, never ask a no question. “Would you like a call liquor?” This is a horrible question. “Would you prefer Absolute, Finlandia or Smirnoff?” This leaves the easy answer to be to select one instead of the typical “no”. If the well brand is fine, they’ll tell you that and it’s not at all embarrassing for them to do so. A simple no will tell you to order the well.
There are a few things I’d like to mention even though they may be known to everyone. Having working in the industry for a couple of decades I am equally sure some people don’t know so this is for them. Arrive at least 10 minutes early and be dressed in a clean, ironed uniform. Showering just prior to leaving will make you feel better, trust me. You shoes should be clean and please make sure they are shined if applicable. You should have at least 4 black, medium ball point pens and something to write orders on such as a portfolio pad or at least a spiral bound notebook. Breath mints are a plus as you can’t always drink when you’re mouth is dry. Ladies (and men) make sure your hair is up according to health code standards and please don’t look like you woke up from a night out drinking and jumped into your clothes, even if that is the case! Ladies, a little makeup never hurt anyone and has helped many, just a thought. Guys, be sure you’re clean shaven, and your hair is combed.
Fragrances should be avoided but if you feel you must please don’t wear a heavy sent or wear too much. If you’ve ever had allergies to any extent at all you understand what I’m saying. Eating a meal is not pleasant if you are stuffed up or you’re sneezing due to your server’s fragrance. Patchouli is a scent which I do not like, often too much of it is worn and the smell lingers. Please don’t wear it. If you do, please use it very sparingly.
A tip which is not pleasant to talk about yet is valuable to some. When you sweat for a few hours at a time it’s possible to develop a rash in certain areas. The servers I know have termed this “monkey butt” to put it as nicely as possible. To thwart the monkey from taking over YOUR butt, talcum powder works wonders. Shower just before work and apply powder to the area. Let’s just say it’s not pleasant to have monkey butt and you’re not going to be at your best if suffering with it! Enough said.
A word on uniforms which you buy at department stores (not logo items from the restaurant). Buy as high of a quality as you can reasonably afford for a few reasons; better looking clothes which last longer and are easier to iron.

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