Secrets to a successful job search

By Thomas G. Ciapi CEC®, CCE®, CCA®, AAC

In a world where chefs are becoming celebrities and jobs are limited, culinary professionals must find new ways to compete for jobs and market themselves to potential employers.

What are employers looking for in candidates? Scintillating food and dynamic plating? Diligence and hard work? Either way, jobs are a precious commodity, and employers are often looking for demonstration of superior culinary skill, knowledge of culinary principles and dedication to the culinary industry.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employer. When two chef candidates have similar resumes, job experience and the interview goes well for both, what is that employer looking to see? How do you show that you will be an asset to their kitchen? Your ACF certifications can help you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the pack.

Here are a few tips to keep in your toque:

  • Network with chefs, both personally and online–local ACF chapters are useful in this endeavor.
  • Display your ACF certification on your resume, jacket, business card and social media sites, and be ready to talk about what that certification means. You have been educated in nutrition, sanitation and supervision, your work experience has been verified, and you have gone through rigorous testing to prove that you have the skills and knowledge to work in a professional kitchen.
  • Show professionalism.  Keep in mind that employers are looking to sustain an image or a brand, and will be looking to you to uphold it.  Wear professional clothing, edit your resume for grammatical errors and speak professionally.
  • Monitor your social media to exhibit your best qualities, particularly on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Some employers are now using social media in the candidate screening process to verify that the candidate will be the right fit.
  • Volunteer and/or mentor culinarians in your local areas.  You can gain experience, network and demonstrate that you are compassionate and hard-working.
  • Learn new culinary skills.  Every small bit of education adds to your arsenal and projects you to the top of the resume stack. For example, skills such as ice or fruit carving might add flair to a restaurant setting, while wine courses might be seen by the employer as a way to improve the restaurant’s profile.  Keep up with culinary trends and updated sanitation requirements, which can also be applied toward your re-certification.
  • Be patient.  It takes time to build a professional reputation, resume and brand, but it is possible.

The job search can be daunting, but for chefs who are willing to stay diligent, the right job will become more attainable. By taking control of your image and marketing yourself as the most qualified, hard-working and valuable candidate, the more likely you will be to land the job you want.

Hungry for more? Read Roll with the Punches for Chef Ciapi’s networking tips.

Chef CiapiThomas Ciapi, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, was born in Queens, New York, and raised on Long Island as the son of Italian decedents, where his love for cooking was developed early in life.  Chef Ciapi first completed an apprenticeship program from the American Culinary Federation in 1984 from Houston, Texas, becoming a certified cook, and throughout the course of his career earned other certifications before becoming a certified culinary educator and certified executive chef.  His experience includes private clubs, resorts and hotels, teaching, and he is a published cookbook author. To learn more about Chef Ciapi and his journey, visit his website.