Jun 112013
 

After noticing plainly fraudulent postings for Chef / Cook / Food and Beverage positions placed as comments on LinkedIn last week I wrote a short piece on the best way to recognize fraudulent job offers and employment scams.

Judging from responses to the blog, international employment fraud is both more wide spread and more sophisticated than I had imagined. The alumni manager for one of this country’s major cooking schools reported scams reaching into the school’s graduate pool. One LinkedIn group member reported the following scam launched from a legitimate web site offering a position in a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur. While it is possible that someone within the hotel was able to perpetrate the fraud, it is more likely that highly skilled con artists were able to pose successfully as the hotel’s GM and Director of HR.

This report indicates the level of sophistication in some international employment scams aimed at high end applicants.  The harm to the candidate was considerable. He is considering action against the Hotel, for which he probably needs to await the findings of the local police.

In addition to the notes I added in italics to the reports, there are a few things candidates for overseas employment can and probably should do to protect themselves. For one thing initiate telephone contact with someone at the hotel to confirm the position before taking any drastic steps – that means calling the number on the hotel web site when the job offer is made and asking for confirmation of that offer.  Do not Skype or use a number or address offered by the person you are dealing with, and do not rely on that person to call you. Use only the Hotel main number and ask for the person in Human Resources.  Do not conduct your business over the contact’s mobile phone. (This is an old trick I use for checking references with occasionally surprising and amusing results.)

It is, furthermore, highly irregular for an employer to ask a candidate or employee to advance money. In fact, that is a fairly sure sign of fraud.  If an advance is requested, do as suggested above and call the employer (again – find the address on the Internet – do not use a number provided by the contact) and confirm the offer.

One other thing you can do is check the contact’s email for the originating IP Address. You will find it in the header. In Outlook check on File and then Info then Properties. In the box which opens look for something like Received: from mail-blah blah blah.com [209.85.212.52]) . Take the number 209.85.212.52 and put it in the search bar of your browser. The search results will give you the location of the server from which the message originated . This is not a certain solution (the mail from which I copied was sent from Jordon using a Google server in California) but if you are applying for a position in Tokyo and the server proves to be in Istanbul or St Petersburg, you are warned.  As stated in the previous post, the mail should come from a hotel or property address – someone@swankysuites.com rather than swankysuites@yahoo.com . Luxury properties can afford their own URL’s and require that all correspondence use them.

Thank you for your reply! the scam unfolded in several steps

1. Ad on Hcareers.com to which I applied- mid August 2012 (Note: HCareers is not responsible for these events. The fact that the perpetrators used a highly respected location for the scam is an indication of the level of sophistication and possibly success in the operation.)

2. Application sent by HR Director of hotel saying I had been shortlisted along with a request for all certifications. (Note: I suspect this was someone posing as the HR Director, not the HR Director. )

3. Interview over telephone with HR and then with GM- lasted over 30 minutes (Again: My suspicion is that the call was initiated by someone posing as the HR Director and the GM.)

4. Three days later a letter of intent on [the hotel’s] letter head with the right phone numbers

5. Letter clearly stated position salary and benefits, the later asked for 50% payment for work permit, 50% for air ticket for self and spouse and 50% immigration documents All of which would be refunded by [the hotel] once I arrived and joined, the reason I was given that the hotel in the past had spent a lot money to get candidates who never showed up due to any number of reasons ie counter offer etc. Note: In reality this would never happen. The candidate is either sent a ticket or asked to buy his own ticket and will be reimbursed on arrival.

6. I was to pay the money in stages which I did

7. I even had my wife fly out to KL with the offer letter and see a local attorney, who said it all looked fine and was a good contract, my wife also found out through friends in KL that HR director mentioned on the offer was indeed the actual HR Director. (Note: Except this was probably not the person the candidate spoke with)

8. I made the final payment and received a work permit on official Malaysian Government Papers duly signed by the Labor Department (These, too, where certainly forgeries – taking the time to confirm the visa via a local consulate would be a good idea.)

9. At this stage I was still unaware that it was a fraud and a scam.

10. I received a Qantas Airlines electronic ticket, 4 days before I was to leave ( Nov 11th 2012) which when I called Qantas proved to be false, that is when I started to suspect that something was wrong

11. My wife was already in KL staying with friends waiting for me to join her

12. She drove over to the hotel and found to her shock that the HR director had left the job a a couple of weeks ago, on further questioning also revealed that they had an Executive Chef on board

13. I had already resigned and given two months’ notice .

I have all the documentation and email trail copies of which have been submitted to KL police

Police in Kl are still investigating, I have had precious little reaction from [the hotel] in KL or at the head office in the US

 See the previous post for more suggestions of keeping your job search safe. Be  careful. It’s  a scarier jungle than we thought out there.

 

 

 

Jun 032013
 

I recently posted a few positions on Linkedin.

In a few seconds a comment appeared claiming to be seeking all staff for the Luxury Cunard Cruise line group. Two group members immediately posted requests to be considered for the position.

His comment was not, however,  only inappropriate (piggy-backing your outreach on another user’s comments ) It was a scam.  The poster had nothing to do with Cunard and was certainly  not advertising under his own name. He was looking for patsies, and he had found two in seconds.

Once in contact with the “candidates” he will have them fill out a very simple form and then respond requesting the fees for visa processing as well as national identification  or passport numbers and the kind of personal information that would not only seem logical for work permit applications but also enables identity theft.

These scams, usually citing luxury properties of cruise liners, abound.  One featuring a photo of a “Director of a group of luxury London River Boats” seeking“Top Chefs”  was appended to every job listing I posted about a month ago. (Luxury river cruises on the Thames?) Despite warnings from group members who had already been stung, at least fifteen responses begged to be considered for the jobs. Desperation makes easy targets.

Another promised jobs at all levels in Canada.

The practice has reached some of the world’s  top hotels and resorts; London’s five star luxury Montcalm has resorted to posting a fraud alert on their career pages.

In addition to minor grifting and identity theft, fraudulent job lures may pose greater dangers ranging from leaving a candidate adrift in a foreign country with neither money nor resources to an increasing number reported enslavement cases.

I also get emails from an offshore group telling me that they can a)get me a glamorous job in the Middle East and B) in a separate email that they can get me cut price labor. The mails come from different companies, but the IP address is the same for both..which means that both messages are sent from the same computer.

There are of course international recruiters (we are that when called to be), but taking care anytime you are dealing with the unknown is just basic intelligence. Not paranoid – just cautious..   Use critical thinking in any job search – especially if that job would take you overseas.

Excitement and hope are the enemies of critical thinking and common sense. If an offer or a come-on seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.  No mater how much you want something to be true, you are your own best advocate only if you look for the flaws in the proposal.

Here are a few things you can consider when you are dealing with a recruitment firm or job offers (or hoaxes).

 

1)      Mileage is a good sign: If a recruiter has been around for a while, they haven’t dirtied many nests.

2)      Referrals will usually lead you to reliable recruiters or businesses: If someone you know has a recruiter s/he trusts, then you probably can as well.

3)      What is the firm’s web and brick and mortar  presenece?: A bona fide recruiter will have a web page and a professional email account. Like jobs@chefsprofessional.com (ours) or john@greatrestaurantgigs.com.  A person working in any company’s HR will use that company’s URL (suzieq@hyattsuites.com) . Legitimate HR departments never use email addresses like RitzCarlton@gmail.com . Corporate Human Resources representatives work out of corporate offices and will have a phone number which is not a cell phone.  If your contact does not supply  you with this information, just call the Human resources office and ask if he is in.

4)      Can be authenticated: Check the person’s identity on Linked in. My information is complete and completely visible. The Cunard poster could not be found.

5)      How are they seeking candidates?  Legitimate job postings do not appear in comments under other conversations. The larger corporations target  individuals directly through their research or have a professional outreach person who sends out group messages using paid Premium Accounts.  They also advertise some positions on larger job boardsl

Remember these companies sometimes have recruitment budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They don’t waste time with small  postings in groups on Linked or any other site.

6)       Beware of unsolicited email: I email people who have responded to previous ads, but I reference their response and tell them who I am. Emails promising your dream job are always scams. Anything promising the job of your dreams is suspect.

7)      Methods of response: All professional companies these days use contact forms on their web sites. You can see ours at http://www.chefsprofessional.com/contact.php .  Many will not take emailed resumes, but if they do, they will take them at an official HR department email address. Corporations like Hyatt may require you to sign up for an account or sign in with a Google or other account.

8)      You should never pay money for a job lead 0r a job referral. You should never give your social security or passport number to be considered for a position. (You may have to provide them when an offer is made.) You should never provide bank or financial information.  A few companies functioning as facilitators for visas like the US J Visa do  – that is a different issue.)

9)      Exceptions: Small restaurants, independent hotels, etc  often do have Gmail or Hotmail accounts to spare their main accounts from too much traffic or to hide the name of the restaurant for any number of reasons. There is nothing unethical about this.  They will always identify themselves a such in their job listings.

10) Research. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of an offer, research the company. Recruiters  may not be able to give you the company name at first, but they should after the job is filled (or if you are being considered). Every legitimate business is on line, and all companies have LinkedIn or other presence. Take a look at their profile –  who else has worked for them. Are they endorsed? (My fans keep endorsing me for cooking, for some reason. At least it is an endorsement.)  Most large luxury groups also post all of their lower level openings and some management jobs on their own web sites, which provides a further method of confirmation.  Cunard’s web site has no cook openings at this time, so the outreach for all positions was definitely a scam.

11) Be very wary of “attorneys” and facilitators who reach out on or via the internet promising job permits.  Most if not all frauds. If they can do something for you, then you can do it yourself for a small processing fee at the nearest consulate. If in doubt the consulate will be able to tell you if the program they propose is bonafide.

Note of caution: If you are dealing with email solicitation Google the page on the web rather than using the link provided. As is the case with less complicated phishing schemes, job hoaxes can have very realistic mock ups of company pages.

Final caution: The con artists who are surfacing in the job industry tend to cite either cruise liners or resorts.  The positions they offer are always irresistibly attractive and international (which allows them to solicit money for visas and identity sensitive information).    If the  presentation of a corporate position seems odd (For instance the recent cruise liner outreach) bypass the recruiter (DO NOT SEND A RESUME/CV) and go directly to the company’s web site to apply.

Be careful. It’s complicated new world, and there be monsters abroad.

May 212013
 

Or maybe social media and job search.

I have been on Linkedin for several years, and frankly, I haven’t found many people there, despite my largish stable of “friends”.  That seems more to do with the international nature of the venue, but it may be just me. Every time I reach out, no matter how specifically, I find a flood of messages in my inbox from India, Pakistan and other wildly exotic places with hoards of chefs and cooks wanting to get to the US, which messes up my work rhythm.

This is despite the clear statement: We are unable to consider candidates outside the United States and without working visas.

But this is about you, and not me, so let me get to the point: What I also see on Linkedin and on the other social media sites I frequent is  the following sentence: “Please see my profile”.  Nothing more. Just an order to look them up. ..just  take a moment out of your schedule to go get what I could have sent you myself, if I had bothered to read the entire job description and gone to your web site to send a resume and a note via your carefully constructed contact page.

They also place these on posts of people who ask questions like, “How do I find a job in Sweden”. “Please view my profile.”  There may even be an ap for this (considering the mindless uniformity of the response, there probably is). May I suggest that if so it does more harm than good?

What does this have to do with you? Well, if you do this no recruiter with a brain in his/her head is going to give you the time of day. Why? Because they are careless, inconsiderate and stupid.

You, on the other hand, are not. You have the intelligence and the presence of mind to read job offers or leads on social media to the end and follow the instructions to a “T”. If there are no instructions, you have the class and intelligence to message the person posting the job directly with a very short  note that says “I am interested in the job your posted on whatever.com.  How may I best contact you and where can I send a resume, if you desire one?” Now isn’t that charming? It’s also effective.  The employer or recruiter may  look at your profile anyway  (we do that), but you have at least offered to take the initiative.

That means you are the kind of person I want in my employment..not someone who either does not read instructions or ignores them.

Another Linkedin anomaly: I notice that whenever I post a job other recruiters post something like, “Go to Dan’s Sleazy recruitment site to see the best jobs in the world.” Of course this is superfluous, since you are all smart cookies, but I would say that any recruiting firm who tailgates someone else’s work like that is hardly trustworthy and should be avoided at all costs.  (Perhaps I should offer something on bad recruiters, as I notice them on the rise, but time is precious at the moment.) At any rate, be warned.

As long as we are at this, let’s talk alumni sites. I occasionally mention something about jobs on school sites. I  just mentioned a great opportunity for cooks who want to move into Michelin rated kitchens on one, but as a recruiter I left no name. A student or alumni immediately challenged this, and I explained with a link to this site’s explanation about recruiters why that was the case. The young woman responded, “That is an awful site. It doesn’t do anything to attract candidates.” Now, actually from our statistics, it appears it does, but that’s not the point.

The point is that this  young woman is posting in a place where not only I but numerous employers make job offers. Her manners are wanting, to say the least, and everyone who looks there  has a a chance to see that.  Obviously something else you are too smart and classy to do, but I thought  I’d mention it.

I have been busy filling jobs (The Chefs’ Professional Site is listed on the side bar if you want to know what they are) and regret not to have provided more posts.  This one, however, seems important.

So let me repeat the moral, because it’s an easy one: When dealing with internet job opportunities, read posting carefully, follow the instructions and be respectful and polite. Good luck to all of you. The world needs people like you.

 

 

May 172012
 

Sometimes my clients contact me with openings whose description is cut to one or two candidates as neatly as a Seville Row suit. These are usually candidates with narrow but very valuable skill sets, so ideal jobs for them are hard to come by, as are ideal candidates for those positions.  In nearly every case I have said to the candidate, “I don’t have anything suitable for you at the moment, but I will contact you the moment I do.” Because I consider their skills valuable, I only contact them with jobs that will not waste their or the employer’s time, which means not a barrage of weekly, “Please try it”, which would at least show clients I was looking.

Generally as soon as I have identified a match I reach out and wait for a return call. And wait. And wait. After about a week I will get a message and will try to call back. If I am foolish enough to hold traffic for the candidate, I will probably lose the job, so I move on. The next time she calls, I will simply tell her that I had something ideal but she didn’t have the courtesy to reach me (usually not in those words) so I may give her a call next time, but that depends.

I would feel bad about this, except it is what I hear from my clients constantly. “We keep calling people, and they don’t return our calls.” What’s going on? Should they start texting? Are job seekers really that lackadaisical about the opportunities out there. Or should I say full of themselves?

Apparently yes. And they are too stupid to breathe. I can’t get cell phone connection in the kitchen, says one chef. So? You can pick up your message, or no? I had another appointment, said a candidate I knew had not turned up for an arranged interview.  Neither of them is gen X or Y. What’s up?

I’d bring it down to priorities, and I’d like to say that their priorities are screwed up, so let me give you a few rules and facts:

1)      Anyone providing you a possible advance in your career, whether it pans out or not, is doing you a favor. The least you can do is acknowledge it promptly.

2)      Despite the number of creeps out there in all areas of the hiring industry, employers, recruiters, wing nut entrepreneurs, there are a lot of decent people, who deserve the same respect they try to give you (in my case by not calling with inappropriate jobs).

3)      This is a small industry. If you burn one bridge, the chance of others going with it is great.

4)      Nobody is afraid to hear “no thank you.” If a call suggests a job you are not interested in, just say so. Don’t just pass the call. Life is not Twitter. All communication brings with it an obligation.  If you don’t need the job and just let the call slip, then you will have at least one less ally when  you do need one.

5)      If you have actively asked someone to keep you informed of upcoming jobs you need to be accessible. I have written about this many times. It means checking your cell phone, You don’t need to answer when a call comes in, but call back as soon as it convenient..or inconvenient for that matter.  Don’t let your possible job calls go to a home phone answered by teenagers..they get lost. Be prepared to step out and talk in the alley way, if you don’t have a place where you work. But DO call. If you can’t communicate, let the person know.

The market is looking up at the moment, but that is no license to get sloppy or cocky about opportunities, and, frankly, manners never harmed any relationship.

Jan 242012
 

Accessibility is the key to a good job search approach

 

When you are seeking a new position, you want to be as easy to reach as possible.  If the person you wish to hire you can’t gain easy access to you, you won’t have access to their job/s.

What you need to do to be accessible:

1)      Resume format. In order to know about you, people need to read your resume.  Avoid special resume programs and obscure word processors (Word Perfect is now an obscure word processor). The most universal format is “Rich Text Format” or .rtf. Any file can be saved as rtf by clicking on the “Save As” option when you save the file. After .rtf you can rely on Microsoft Word, although some recipients may not be able to open the latest version. Everyone can read Adobe .pdf files, but they are not optimal, as they cannot be annotated or saved unless the recipient has the software, and some database systems cannot store them.

2)      Make sure you include your phone number on your resume.  

3)      Make sure you include your email on your resume. We have said this often. The recipient may print your resume and discard the email, so put it up front. If you don’t want job search information in your usual mailbox (where it should not go if it is a company address) open a free GMAIL or Hotmail account for your job search only.  Most accounts can be forwarded to any other you have.

4)      Make yourself accessible by phone when you are available. This means:

1)      Do not use a home phone with an answering machine for your search, especially if it is shared with others.  You need a cell phone which makes it possible for you to receive and record calls.

2)      If you can’t speak to an unknown caller, let the message go to voicemail and call back when

it is convenient, rather than picking up in a meeting or during service.

3)      Answer all calls within a reasonable period of time, usually within 24  hours.

You want to make it as easy as possible for potential employers to reach and communicate with you.

Oct 012011
 

I just got off the phone with a potential client, who provided an extremely insightful  view of the value of background checks. That is, the on-line or professional services which provide information on DUI’s, criminal records, credit checks and the like.

“The background check,” she stated, “is essentially an integrity check. If someone has a single DUI or has defaulted on a loan, which can happen in these times and this industry, and he tells me, I can be fairly comfortable with him as a candidate. If he hides it, that’s a different matter.”

In other words, it is more important to this company that their employees be honest than that they be perfect.

Honesty is a highly effective job search strategy.

Job seekers with flies in their professional ointment generally try to cover them up, leading interview conversation away from unfortunate incidents and stretching dates to cover periods of unemployment, or inventing stories and excuses.

This is a mistake because:

  • Most people who hire often can recognize cover ups
  • Incidents covered up in the interview process which surface later can be grounds for immediate termination.
  • Not all employers see incidents as an impediment to hiring.

In my opinion and experience the best way to deal with the flies in job history ointment is to bring them up as early in the process as possible, so that the positives which follow receive more attention and remain in the memory of the interviewers. People tend to weigh what they hear at the end of an interview more heavily than what they hear at the beginning.

At the very least, it is wise to be open if you are asked at the end of an interview if there is anything else you need to share.  You want employers to hear these things from you rather than from anyone else.

Avoid excuses.  You can explain facts surrounding employment impediments, but you should never try to blame  someone else for your situation.

The same logic applies to your professional weaknesses. Nobody can do everything perfectly. The last candidate I would want to hire is someone who thinks he can. Good self assessment is high on my list of interview positives.  It allows me as a recruiter to direct candidates towards positions where they have a high probability of success, and it allows employers to know what to expect in a new hire and to determine what additional training or support to offer.

Employers, once they have identified a candidate with a work history they like, are quite likely to forgive weaknesses, or even welcome them. To quote one, “Great, then she hasn’t learned any bad habits. We can teach her our way.”

Apr 202011
 

And they are fun. They can be very useful in your job search process.

Photos are rarely the final reason that a chef is hired, although in truth, I hired at least one chef based on his pictures. It was when I was young and stupid, but it worked. He ran one of the hottest restaurants in San Francisco and eventually became the Executive Chef of the Palace Hotel.

I was fortunate with that placement,  since what he didn’t have in experience he possessed in intelligence and knowledge.  That approach to hiring rarely worked two decades ago, and it doesn’t work at all now.

You probably already have a collection. If you don’t, you probably should. You can take excellent pictures with any digital pocket camera  these days. You don’t need a food photographer, and you don’t need a $540 Nikon.  The question, however, is what do you do with them?

First, here’s what you don’t do: Send about three gigabytes of pictures with your resume. Have mercy. Everyone’s mailbox has some limits, as does everyone’s time. As a matter of fact, don’t send any pictures at all when you apply to a job.  An employer wants to see where you have been and what you did there before he dedicates time to photos.

So what then?

There are numerous possibilities. The most obvious is taking them with you on an interview and offering them if a moment arises. It probably will, and the person you are speaking with will probably be interested. (If not, it’s a good thing you didn’t send them in advance.)  In addition to the time honored scrap book approach, smart phones and Ipads provide easy transportation and viewing. Netbooks are less elegant due to the fuss of opening the program and pulling up the pictures.

You can carry your photos on a thumb drive, although if the interviewer is not sitting in front of a computer, you may  no’t be able to show them.  In fact, you should also carry a copy of your resume and anything else you think would be helpful on a keychain thumb drive when  you interview.

There is also “the cloud” – online storage space which can be accessed from any WiFi or hard wired Internet connection. At some point you will be using this daily, but for now connectivity fails often enough to make it a less attractive choice for interview show and tell.  It’s a good way, however, to make material available to interested employers during the course of a job discussion process after or before the interview.   A note on a cover letter that images of the food are available if the reader is interested is preferable to instructions to “see my pictures here”, by the way.

A few of cautions:

1)      Videos are iffy. They take more time to view. They carry subliminal message about the character of the person who films herself, which may not be appreciated.  They demand time from someone who may not have it.

2)      Your pictures should be good ones. I have received images of food I would not eat. They should also be of YOUR food.

3)      The art of presentation is in the selection. Fewer pictures is better.  Don’t overwhelm the interviewer. You want no more than fifteen or so.  Choose a good selection of the best.

4)      The pictures should  be pertinent to you and your skills and not your private life. Celebrity shots with Donald Trump or President Clinton don’t tell anyone anything about you except that you had a moment for a photo shot.

5)      Offer them, don’t force them on potential employers. “Would you like to see some of the food we served?” is nearly irresistible. Please look at my pictures” isn’t.

6)       Pictures in a scrap book should be protected and not dog eared and dirty.

Apr 132011
 

My dream reply to an invitation to assist a chef in finding employment:

Dear Chef:

You write: “I am interviewing professionals to assist me in securing a position as a Chef or Manager in the restaurant industry.” Bing, wrong answer.

Why?

1)      You do not interview us. We interview you. The choice is not yours, it is ours.

2)      Unless we feel that you possess universally attractive qualities for our clients, we will put off interviewing you until we have a job available. Life is triage.

3)      We do not assist you in finding a job. We assist our clients in finding chefs. There’s more than a small difference between the two approaches. Let’s put it this way, we are not your advocate, unless we are absolutely convinced that you are in every way we value a righteous professional.

Why? Well, for one thing, you don’t pay us. Our clients do. We are a free service to you, and possibly a valuable one, as it is in our interest to hook you up with something that works, preferably for a long time, so we won’t send you to something for a quick fee. That’s the standpoint of most search firms, although there still a few rogues among us.

We would call you immediately, if you were a prime candidate, but you are not.

Why? : 1) you are currently not employed and have been for over half a year. We do represent people between jobs if we know them or if their background impresses us, but an unknown, unemployed candidate can be a bombshell. Being unemployed can indicate many possible problems, and at times we do not have the time or the desire to discover them.  2) We don’t know you and have never heard of you, and we have heard of many good culinarians.  3) you have had five jobs in the past four years, so we cannot really with a straight face suggest to our clients that they pay us on your good word that you are looking for something permanent. 5) You are arrogant. Really, you are. Life’s too short. 6) You think you are more important that we do. Don’t get us wrong. We want our candidates to have a strong sense of their value, but we don’t like the feeling that they are trying to manipulate us based on that sense. Trust us, your note says exactly that. So do all the applications telling to call ASAP or to look them up on Google and download their resumes. We have a small button which rates them. The title of the field is “No”. (we also have a “Yes” field). So we will just store this information in case we run across you again, so we will know not to reach out.

Finally, I do not have time to educate you. Your school should have explained the job search process to you and told you something about professional job search behavior. Maybe they did, but our job is not to provide refresher courses in the field.

The good – no –  great news, is that there are plenty of fish in the sea and someone will find you more attractive than we do. So, best of luck in your search. It might help, however, to brush up on recruiters, so have a look at what our business site writes.

Oct 132010
 

If you have given up your own restaurant and are seeking to reenter the world of the employed, you face a few challenges. You probably already know this.

The ranks of recovering restaurateur chefs and entrepreneur managers thrown back  into the labor pool exploded in 2009, as the economy took down even some of  the best restaurants. Watching most of them find jobs but not keep them has been a revelation. Most ex entrepreneurs face both internal and external hurdles in reentering the market. Recognizing them may help.

Anyone who has owned a restaurant has a lot to offer, such as peripheral vision encompassing both front and back of the house issues.

Financial responsibility for all aspects of a restaurant has provided them with insights into expense to profit relationships, so they appreciate the value of product, energy, equipment and people.

They have developed  holistic business perspectives, understanding of the necessity of pleasing the customer, marketing and advertising, sourcing.

They are, by definition, entrepreneurial. Ownership builds a profound  buck stops here sense of responsibility. Entrepreneurs learn to think on their feet and make quick decisions. Most are accustomed to working hard and long.

So why do we see the average entrepreneur come employee is a series of jobs beginning with about three months, the second counting about six, then a year before they stand back in the labor market?

Employee and entrepreneurial realities are harder to reconcile than most people realize. Giving up the reins is traumatic, occasionally impossible. The habit of making unilateral decisions rarely succeeds in someone else’s restaurant, where trip wires, egos, and territorial expectations obstruct the best intended actions.

Transitioning from your own arbitrary decisions or logically set policy to that of another location is full of pitfalls.The purpose of policy is not to produce the best outcome but to keep some fool from provoking the worst. The problem with policy is that it punishes good performance, since if it is required of one employee, it has to be required of all.  People with a strong sense of responsibility have trouble doing what is prescribed instead of doing what’s best.

Surprisingly, the entrepreneurs who seem to have the fewest problems transitioning work in hotels and executive dining rooms for large corporations, the places with the strictest policies and standards. This may be because these policies are clearly written, so the chef or manager knows precisely what is expected of him, while policy in free standing restaurants may be spoken or just a matter of culture.

Every kitchen has a culture that can become a stumbling block for someone not expecting it.  Having ruled kingdoms of their own, entrepreneurs are not practiced in watching out for the trip wires, territorial issues and occasional obstructionist behavior  in a less than perfect  working world.  The compliment your waitress accepted with a smile in your restaurant can be carried to HR as sexual harassment in someone else’s.  Speaking to a customer wanting a bridal shower without passing it by the Catering Director can lead to internecine wars which end in the last person hired leaving.

And then there are habits and liberties you cannot take on someone else’s dime. You can’t pick up the kids after school, you can’t come a little later on one day a week. Perhaps you can’t make last minute purchasing decisions.

Of course some chefs weren’t prepared in the first place to run a restaurant and taking another chef position after trying unsuccessfully to reinvent the wheel just isn’t going to work.

Knowing this, employers are rarely eager to hire someone they see themselves having to press back under the yoke by force.

“Why did his restaurant fail, if he’s so good?” “If I hire an ex owner, I am just going to have to argue to get what I expect.”  The recently self employed have a well earned reputation for head butting and arrogance, and although you may not engage in either, you are likely to be painted with the same brush as the worst of the bunch.

Sooner or later, these issues work themselves out. Some ex owners take three or five bumps to relearn the art of being employed. Others will later open another  and do better the second round. Some of the most celebrated chefs in America have at least one closing behind them.  It’s a no guts, no glory world, and having the spunk to get up and try again pays off.  The knowledge gained in the first or second restaurant  serves them well in the next.

I’ve no call to give advice here. My experience is vicarious, and anyone who has owned a restaurant knows way more than I ever will about this business, but perhaps a little insight about why you are being told, “Sorry, but you are overqualified,” can help.