Here are some tips for improving your resume and acing interviews to land your next opportunity

By Liz Barrett Foster

During ACF’s Back to our Kitchens; Be Ready to Be Hired webinar, Jacqui Pressinger, ACF director of strategic partnerships, led a session about how chefs can improve their resumes and networking skills to land a foodservice job. Interviewing techniques, insider tips, new opportunities and hints on how to stand out from the competition were all covered.

ACF webinar pic 5.6.2020

Panelists included:

  • Shawn Loving, CMC CCA, culinary arts department chair, Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Michigan (SL)
  • Paul Sorgule, MS AAC, president, David Meyers Associates (PS)
  • Kimberly Brock-Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC, ACF Southeast Region vice president (KB)
  • Amy Tormey, owner/talent scout, Source Culinary (AT)
  • Dina Altieri, CEC, CCE, MS, career coach and director of culinary enterprises, UMOM New Day Centers (DA)
  • Dr. Cynthia Mejia, associate professor and interim chair of the department of foodservice and lodging management, Rosen College of Hospitality Management – UCF (CM)

Below is a quick summary of the discussion; the full webinar can be viewed by clicking here.

When preparing for the reopening of restaurants, the panel suggested the following:

  • Look into free continuing education. ACF is currently offering a selection of courses and conference recordings for free through its Online Learning Center. (CM)
  • Remember the passion that attracted you to your profession in the first place. (SL)
  • Familiarize yourself with COVID-19 sanitation practices (DA)
  • Check your social media accounts and make sure you are presenting yourself professionally. (KB)
  • Take inventory of what you bring to the table and what your personal story is. (PS)

Tips for your resume:

  • Show in your resume that you are detail-oriented by making sure you use spellcheck, have good flow and that your summary matches up with your actual qualifications and experience. (AT)
  • Show your ability to manage costs by quantifying what you’ve done with food and beverage costs. Show it on your resume. (CM)
  • If you have gaps on the resume 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. (DA) Address short stints on your resume in your cover letter so you can make it to the interview. (PS)
  • Showcase how you interact and work well with other people. Temperament will be more important than ever right now. (SL)
  • Get past the electronic screening of resumes by putting specific keywords in your resume. Look at keywords used in the job description. Weave those keywords throughout your resume so that yours stands out. (CM) (FYI, there are resume consultants who provide this service). 

How to handle references on a resume:

  • Employers want to see professional references from an educator, not your friends or family. (KB)
  • 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 resume is up to date. (DA)
  • It’s okay to ask that an interviewer not contact your current employer because you haven’t decided if you’re leaving yet. (PS)

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. (PS)
  • Show that you intend to be there for a long time by asking the interviewers questions about a succession plan and training programs. (CM)
  • 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. (AT)
  • When you get past the phone interview and are invited for an in-person interview, show up looking professional and job-ready. (KB)

Having realistic expectations:

  • Be humble; don’t rush the experience and the progression. Be aware of all the jobs in the kitchen. (DA)
  • It’s easy to go up, but it’s hard to explain if you have to backtrack and go back down. (KB)
  • 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. (CM)

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. (KB)
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated with your resume. Look at other profiles and organizations for ideas. (AT) (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. (CM)
  • Everyone has to eat. Chefs are essential workers. Figure out your skill sets and where you can use them. (KB)
  • 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. (SL)

Getting certified:

  • Certification gives you a talking point in an interview, resume and your story. It may also be intriguing to your interviewer. (SL)
  • Being certified is a differentiator. It sets you apart and gives you a leg up over the next chef. (KB)

Are you currently looking for work? Continue your search at the ACF Job Board.


Register for ACF’s Next Webinar

Wednesday, May 13 (3:00p.m. EST)

ACF United: We Are Stronger Together; Wellness for the Mind and Soul of Chefs

We must continue to discuss the mental and spiritual wellbeing of the culinary community. Our 5/13 Panel of Chefs will discuss the mental and physical challenges being faced by those in the culinary community. How to cope during this difficult time, and resources available for those chefs who are in need.

Click Here to Register

View all upcoming webinars here.