Jul 082011

“I opened the restaurant”  Avoiding the I/me/myself resume.

Most chefs will, at some point in their career, have the opportunity of working in a new property. It’s exciting, educational and exhausting. From that point forward their resume will read something like: “I opened this prestigious 230 seat bistro.”

The same chef is likely to make statements such as:
“I lowered food cost/increased business by 50%.”
“I was awarded “Best Restaurant” recognition by the Miami Times.”

By now you should be noticing a pattern. What’s wrong with this picture?

For one thing the chef did not open the restaurant all by himself.   He was the executive chef or  sous chef or pastry chef prior to, during and following the opening, responsible for staffing, product sourcing, menu creation, costing and pricing and kitchen and systems set up, or whatever he was responsible for.  (“charged with” or “responsible for” plus details provides more valuable information than “opened restaurant”.)

Second, although you as chef are certainly the driving force behind lowering of food cost, you cannot do it alone, and you certainly cannot increase business without the work and cooperation of everyone in your kitchen and the dining room.

This is, admittedly, semantics. You’ve seen this on a hundred of resumes and see no reason yours should not be the 101st to take full credit for the team effort. I do.

Your resume not only provides dates and facts. It sends subtle signals, which every reader knows how to interpret. The Me Resume (I did, I achieved, I was awarded) raises the suspicion that the candidate is not a team player. We have all worked with the manager who asks us to meet a deadline or solve a problem, and then took credit for the entire process, and we don’t like her.  We would rather hire someone who shares the credit.  If I want a positive work environment in my kitchen, I look for someone who works with others. The Me resume doesn’t promise that.

Of course you need credit for what you have achieved, but here’s a tip. Share it.
“During the period I was employed  Josh’s Crab House was awarded the desirable three claw award.”
“Between 2006 and 2008 we were able to lower the food cost from 42% to 28%.”
“During this period successful cooperation of the dining room and kitchen staff effected a sales increase of 35%.”
“As sous chef pre opening and during the first three months was involved in all aspects the entire start up process and in bringing the restaurant to its current level of smooth operation.”
“Le Preserve was awarded “Best Pastry” recognition in 2001, 2002 and 2003.”

Statements like these not only tell people much more about what went on in the opening or improvement,  they show that you are a productive leader (your team while you were there was successful in resolving a problem or creating benefit for the restaurant), and that you are not going to fit the stereotype of ego chef so many owners and managers have come to dread. They indicate that you identify with the restaurant, and that reflects well on you. Anyone smart enough for you to want as an employer will know that the restaurant would not have received the award, improved profitability, been well reviewed or become more popular without truly competent, talented and dedicated people in both front and back management. No matter how you present it, you will be credited with the success.

By the way, if you were hired with the goal of effecting improvements, you should state that, too, followed by the statement of what was achieved.

Even if the managers reading your resume don’t notice the phrasing, they will not be put off by the constant use of “I”, which can raise a red flags.

On the other hand, if you were nominated for or named rising star chef , you and you alone get the title. You will probably get the best results by listing your personal awards and honors separately, especially if you have several.

Of course, your potential employers know that you and fifty other people all opened the restaurant, not just you, but it doesn’t hurt to show them that you know it, too.

  One Response to ““I opened the restaurant” Avoiding the I/me/myself resume.”

Comments (1)
  1. Good stuff, as always. Thanks for sharing.