Jun 302011

There are a number of pieces on what you need to put on  your resume on this site, like this one telling you not to indulge in bulleted self praise at the expense of substance.

Substance is the secret of a good career presentation (also called a resume, or CV in Europe). Experienced hiring authorities go straight for the marrow of the resume and overlook everything else, unless there is no marrow, which tends to irk or amuse them, depending on how silly it is.

When you write about each job, you need three main components: The name and location of the business, your title when you worked there, and the dates with months when you were employed. If  your locations are well known, these three statements might be enough. Usually, however, you will do well to use this space to inform the reader about the location and your role in its success. Notice I did not say what you achieved there or how well you did it.

Here is the rest of what interests recruiters and hiring authorities:

1)      A description of the property  like “300 seat casual dining location with high volume banquet business.” “Twelve seat restaurant”, “three meal restaurant in convention center”,  Private Club for Gated Community with fine dining restaurant, three meal restaurant and two other outlets. “ etc.  Is the restaurant a chain location or part of a larger corporate network, a high volume operation or intimate white table cloth  bistro? This means something to the person hiring.

2)      The nature of the food your produced. You can tack it on to the business description, if you want. Was it French, casual West Coast, Latvian Korean fusion or market driven sustainable with focus on ingredients and simple presentation? If you don’t know what you were cooking (and that is a problem) look at a review of the place. Someone does.

3)      Did you create, execute or manage (were you a kitchen manager or a creative chef.)

4)      Other descriptions of the meal or service. Is this mainly a prix fixe menu, or did you serve to go or have a to go counter, did you have a bar menu or a casual deck menu in summers.

5)      What you did (not what you achieved). Your responsibilities. Opening? Staffing? Expediting? Sourcing? Make a list before you write your resume. You can simply write these in a run on sentence (resume grammar is different from English 101) Responsible for: Staffing, menus, etc…

6)      Who you answered to or how many people you managed. Numerical details of the property: Answered directly to the Director of Food and beverage. In charge of staff of 40 / Worked in a team with the Dining room manager. Two cooks in kitchen. Oversaw several departments.

7)      Property ratings and achievements. Property awarded Michelin rating 2009, 2010 and 2011, voted best restaurant in Charleston by the Taddler, etc.

8)      Positive changes you AND your team members or staff achieved.  This is in the last place for a reason, and we will get to that someday.

9)      Other pertinent information: Were you responsible for more than one operation, or did you assist in the opening of one or more units while there. Did you also work as pastry chef for a period of time. Were you involved in a new project when you left?  Were you on the opening team of this property (I opened the property sounds a bit grandiose, don’t you think?). Did you restructure the staff or kitchen or were you  recruited to set up a new sourcing system (can go in your responsibilities), or did you participate in the redesign the kitchen. Have people you mentored there gone on to great positions?

Your final job description might look something like

St George Hotel, St George Carolina                                                                           4/00 – 5/03

Executive Chef

300 Room Luxury Resort with two fine dining restaurants, one Southern contemporary and one seafood and steak, banquets to five hundred and outdoor events to 1000. Included room service and three further outlets.Annual volume $14 million.

Responsible for opening and staffing hotel, final cost controls, all accounting for kitchen resources including energy, product and space. Directly responsible for Southern Fine Dining menu and for approval and adjust ment of seafood menu. Oversaw management staff of 12 and kitchen staff of 70 including pastry and bakery departments, banquet, outlets and coffee shop.

The St George Hotel was awarded the Culinary Review’s “best of the South” nomination every year of my tenure. Two of our sous chefs were nominated Rising Star chef and our pastry chef was proclaimed best in South Carolina by Good Morning USA.

This substantial approach to job description will gain  you a lot more traction than comments like “I was able to lower the food cost by 40%, increase business by 200% and achieve a stable staff where none existed. Again, later for the logic, but right now, tell people where you were and what you did.

Here is the point: You are not describing you. You are describing your career history.

Obviously you don’t put all of this in every job.  Later positions, for one thing, require less detail. Equally important is what you do not put in: How good you were,  how well you did your job, what praise you received. When you write a resume, it is not about you. (surprised?) It is really about the places you have worked, people you have worked with and who you will work for. If your substance is not sufficient, they won’t give you a chance to tell them about you. Keep that in mind when you write.