Searching for the right bartending job is arguably the most time consuming phase of the hiring process. It takes patience, dedication, and most importantly – consistency.
The following post will walk you through each gateway of searching for bartending a job. From searching online, to taking advantage of agencies and close friends and family – we’ll cover it all.
Job Hunting Mindset
Before we dive into the various methods of searching for a bartending job, I’d like to get something off my chest…
Everyone dreams of starting at the top. Beginning bartenders often search the job market for that perfect bartending gig, at the perfect venue and location. Although it’s possible, I’m here to tell you that it rarely happens. The truth of the matter is that bartending is a highly competitive industry. The best jobs at the best locations are fiercely contested over. And although I’m not here to stomp on anyone’s hopes and dreams, I like to keep things realistic.
Searching for bartending jobs can become exhausting. And if you only aim for the “perfect” job, chances are, finding a job in the first place will take a lot more time. Just remember, do not be picky off the bat. I always suggest beginning bartenders to take what you can get. This way you can quickly dive into the workforce, build up your skills and experience, and even look for other jobs that are more up your alley – all while earning a paycheck. Putting hours under you belt will help you find the bartending job you want down the road.
On the bright side, and despite the competitive job market, bartending jobs are still in high demand. You see, the hospitality industry is known to have a high employee turnover rate. It means that employees come and go frequently. Most bartenders you meet will be part-time employees and bartending will most likely not be their career choice. Instead, bartending is commonly perceived as more of a “side gig.” Many employees you meet in the industry are only bartending to quickly earn cash before they move on to their next endeavour. And hey – this is a good thing!
This high turnover rate environment means that restaurants and bars are constantly looking for new employees. So when it comes to searching for a bartending job, you can expect there to be a hefty batch of job openings. The tricky part, however, is where to find them.
Knowing Your Strengths
It’s highly beneficial to seek out jobs that have characteristics and experiences that you may possess. In certain situations, your personality traits and interests are more appealing to bar managers than your actual experience serving drinks.
For example, if you’re a music enthusiast or someone who spends a lot of personal time playing music, you could be extremely useful to a music venue. This is because you and the music venues’ customer base will have aligned interest. Customers will continue to come back to a place where they have a great conversation about the bands, genre, or songs they admire. Additionally, performers like to play in places where the staff knows their stuff.
And this can translate across all types of venues. If you know sports, go apply at a sports bar. If you’re a food connoisseur, go apply to a fine dining restaurant. And if you are good at talking to anyone about any topic imaginable, you should seek out some breweries or clubs – which tend to cater towards a wider demographic.
The bottom line is that you’re most likely to find a job (and progress at it) if it suits your personal interests and capabilities. Most of the time, these are bars you visit frequently! So you may already have an idea on where you should apply.
How To Find Bartending Job Openings
Like any salesman, the more leads (contact information) they get, the more sales they can make.
That’s exactly how we want to approach the bartending job market.
The more bartending jobs you apply for, the greater the chance you have at getting hired. Instead of only applying for five jobs online, apply for ten. Instead of walking into one restaurant, visit all the other bars in the plaza. This is the mindset you want to have while searching for a bartending job.
Always remember, the more job applications you submit, the greater the chance you have at getting an interview or call back. Even if it’s a job you don’t necessarily want, going through any interview processes will help build your confidence and comfortability going forward.
Job Gateway #1: Online
Searching for jobs online is, hands down, the easiest and fastest route you can take. But just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s the best. The main benefit of applying for bartending jobs online is that it doesn’t take up too much of your time.
With tools and job boards such as Indeed.com, Google, ZipRecruiter.com, Poachedjobs.com, and Shiftgig.com you can look at a wide array of job openings all at once. Additionally, the online tools allow you to hyper-filter exactly what type of job you’re looking for.
Whether it’s a job in a specific location, a particular venue, or a specific salary – you can search for it. Each job board will ask you to fill out a boilerplate application that should only take minutes to fill out. What about the compelling bartending resume we just covered? Easy. Most job boards allow you to upload any attachments including resumes, school certificates, and letter of recommendations that you may have. The downfall of applying online is that you don’t get to meet anyone in the process. Instead of bar managers matching a face or a personality to an applicant, they only get to see a digital application. It is nearly impossible to promote your character or the type of person you truly are through an online application. And at times it can even be dehumanizing.
Lastly, applying online can be a bit of a mojo crusher. When you spot a job position that describes your ideal job… and you spend the time to submit an application… it would be great to get a personal note back from someone inside the company. But that is very uncommon. Instead, online applicants typically don’t receive any correspondence. You may wait for weeks in silence wondering why they didn’t like your application or resume. It’s not likely that they found fault with your background. It’s more likely they never saw your submission to begin with!
In my opinion, there are better ways to search for a job. I find that contacting managers directly, skipping the online process altogether, is a much more efficient route.
Job Gateway #2: Friends and Family
This job search routine is pretty straightforward. Ask everyone and anyone you know – including friends and family who already works in a bar – to let you know when they have an opening and if they can arrange a meeting with a manager. Even if they don’t work at a bar, they may know people who do. Since these are people you are close with, they shouldn’t have any issue of sticking their neck out for you.
Bartenders like to work with people they are familiar with. And bar managers will more often than not consider in-house connections and recommendations more seriously than a random applicant. This job gateway can land you an interview practically overnight. And better yet, there’s no downfall whatsoever. Getting your name out through your own network or group of friends will cause no harm.
Job Gateway #3: Job Agencies
Although bartending job agencies are mostly found online, they’re a totally different animal. Unlike your typical online job board, job agencies do the searching for you. They serve as your agent. They make calls and explore different job openings on your behalf. If you’re very busy and have little time to search and apply for bartending jobs on your own, this is a route you may want to consider. But just be leery of a job agency’s incentives.
Although they do help people find jobs, they are usually expensive… and in some cases, will even take a percentage of your paychecks. Additionally, job agencies may not represent you in a way you want them to.
Remember, you’re having them do all the work for you. And at times, they may even vouch you to the bar managers directly. So just be sure it’s an agency that you can trust, or an agency that actually spent time to get to know your strengths and skills. The last thing you want is an agency selling you short or overselling your skill set just so they can get paid.
Job Gateway #4: Personal Visits
Physically visiting the bar you want to work at is arguably the most effective bartending job search gateway.
You’ve sought out the bars where your talents and interests are the most useful, and now you need to get your foot in the door. This is critical. Again, getting hired has so much more to do with than just what’s on your resume. Bar managers and restaurant owners, for the most part, hire someone for their work ethic, attitude, an applicant’s level of respect, and personality. These are things that are nearly impossible to show off if you apply for bartending jobs online or through an agency.
If there’s a particular job you want at a specific location, you need to make a visit. There’s no way around it. I’ve provided a couple different strategies on getting your foot in the door. The first will take a little extra effort, while the other should be quick and easy. Regardless of what strategy you choose, timing is critical. On both occasions, you want to visit a location during non-busy hours. Sometime in the early afternoon, between 2–4PM, is usually what you want to aim for. Chances are, managers won’t be slammed and will have more time on their hands to strike up a conversation, answer your questions, and get to know you.
Foot In The Door Strategy #1
Before you even hand over a resume, you can always spend a bit of time hanging out at the establishment you want to work at. Show up in the afternoon when it’s not too busy, order a drink or two, and enjoy yourself. If the timing is right, you can then spark conversations with the bartenders working or even a manager. You want to prove to the other employees that you know how to hold a conversation. Be funny, respectful, personable, and pleasant. If you do this a few times over – you can establish a reputation with the employees. And casually, at your pace, you can start inquiring about working at the bar. If you’ve done a good job at being pleasant and conversant, the bartender will immediately seek out the bar manager to meet you or tell you a better time to swing by in the future.
Foot In The Door Strategy #2
If you don’t have time to visit the bar you want to work at frequently, you can always just stop by with your resume in hand. Again, the trick here is to show up at a time when it’s convenient for them. If you walk into a bar when it’s not busy, you’ll then have a glaring green-light to inquire about a job opening. But here’s the thing – you always want to ask for a manager.
If the manager isn’t present or is busy at the moment, I suggest you ask an employee if there’s a better time to visit when the manager is free. Managers are who you want to talk to because they control the shifts. Their opinion weighs much more than your typical employee. They are the ones doing the hiring and interviewing.
Once you get around to meeting the manager, it’s in your best interest to get right to the point. You are someone who is looking for a job. So don’t be afraid to ask if they are hiring! People do it all the time. Come with questions, too. Perhaps they are not hiring at the moment, but they will be in the coming months. Perhaps they’re not hiring for a bartender, but they are looking for a barback. The more details you get out of the manager, the better suited you will be as you continue your job hunt. Lastly, don’t forget to hand them a resume.
Job Gateway #5: Bartending School
When researching online for bartending schools, you will eventually come across some wording around “job-placement assistance.” It’s one of the main benefits of attending a professional bartending school.
Now this isn’t to say that all bartending school job-placement assistance programs are top-notch. But the very loyal bartending schools, with real relationships in the community, help students get hired more often than not.
Ultimately, it comes down to performing a good amount of research into the different bartending schools in your area. If you decide to go let a bartending school find a job for you, it’s not a terrible route as you will receive an education, and gain some experience along the way.
Bartending Jobs: What It’s All About
In the end, searching for a bartending job that fits your interests will go a long way. And if you follow my foot-in-the-door suggestions, your chances of landing that job will greatly increase. One thing to keep in mind is consistency.
Even after you submit a resume, it’s always important to reach back out… or visit the bar again. Don’t be afraid to keep bugging managers about job openings. If no one is getting back to you, it’s rarely because they don’t like you.
Considering these people have full-time jobs, most of the time they forget… or simply haven’t had the time to respond. This is why sending them reminders is important.
Consistency is key.