Aug 072012

A resume is an information tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Use it to inform.

When I am looking for a chef the first thing I need to know is what are his skills sets, what is his history, what kinds and volume  of culinary production, development and organization he has practiced, the scope of her culinary specialties and the level of quality, complexity and rigor in the kitchens where she has worked.

“Top kitchen serving exceptional food” doesn’t help. Whoever reads your introduction, also known as a resume, needs facts. Probably about 40% of the submissions we receive lack them.

Most list restaurants with geographic locations, the title at that location and the scope of the applicant’s duties, all of  which are very important. Some of them list what the candidate feels are his strong points, which is not important or even useful, unless one is looking for signs of puffery or delusion.

Some just list their responsibilities in introductory bullets, leaving the poor recipient to play a game of connect the dots with a short list of employment below (Where did she manage a staff of 70? When did he create the menu?), which most of us simply won’t bother to do, so the resume goes to a “whenever we get to it” pile, and we rarely get to it.

Most people who consider you for positions will probably have a pretty good idea of the nature of the food and the size of places only in their own immediate area or if the places you worked are famous. If you were at Coi in San Francisco or Gramercy Tavern in New York, they should have an idea of where you worked. The same holds true of a Fairmont resort, a Ritz or a TGIFridays – they are all common concepts.  But if your last position was sous chef of the Blue Moose in Minneapolis or Sean’s Seafood Heaven in North Carolina, a boutique hotel in Maine or a conference center in Boulder, an employer in Santa Barbara will recognize nothing, so she probably won’t be interested.  You need to help the people you want to work for to understand what you did at each specific location.

That means giving them information about all of the points mentioned above. After or before  you tell them your title, you need to tell them about the place: How many outlets did it have (only one is a given),  what kind of food was produced, how many seats? Was it casual or formal? Was it part of a group (as in chain) or free-standing. How many covers, if it was a single location. What was the banquet volume, if you were in a club or a hotel. Did it receive national or state recognition (media)?

A job listing could read something like:

Or perhaps

..and the reader will see that you have experience in multiple event locations, have done mainly Mediterranean or Lithuanian Fusion cuisine, that you know volume or the precision of a small highly staffed kitchen creating an exclusive product. Or that you know how to strategize a trendy menu for volume delivery with a limited labor pool.

The format is not binding, nor is the information chosen here. You should know what part of your experience will be useful to an employer. If you need to provide more, do so. Don’t get fancy. Don’t get wordy.  If you send out a resume to someone who (you are absolutely sure) knows your past locations, save space. It’s  your resume and your call, but you need to state the necessary facts if they are not obvious – and more often than not they aren’t.