Jul 152011

As opposed to trusting a resume writer or your English major roommate  to promote you.

When I get the worst resumes, I often ask the sender who wrote it. The answer is generally “My friend in PR”, or an expensive resume writer.

By the worst resumes I do not mean those with spelling errors or bad format.  Those are surmountable.  The worst resumes are those which don’t communicate what an employer needs to know in order to hire you. They are generally filled with fluff and hyperbole.  As Tom Lehr once said of Gilbert and Sullivan, “Lots of words and music signifying absolutely nothing”. The fact that they were not written by someone in the Food and Beverage Industry shows.

Employers in different industries expect different things from the application process. I would not hire a public relations director who sent a resume written with the rules of restaurant applications, for instance. A PR resume would probably require a fair amount of spin and word play, which is counter productive for a chef.  Attorneys and building contractors all have distinct manners of presenting themselves to employers. Only someone in the legal field or the culinary field really knows what counts on the respective job application.

Resume writers, who generally charge several hundred to a thousand dollars for a couple of hours of work, write resumes for all fields.  They see themselves ad advertisers or marketers, who use hyperbole to make the candidate sparkle, but they do not know the industry. One once told me, “We get our clients jobs they would never see without our polish.” I was dealing with a client at the time who had lost one of those jobs, because the promise outstripped the truth, and had asked him to have the resume corrected, as he had paid $500.  To my question, “But how many of those clients keep the jobs?” she replied, “I have no idea. That’s not my business.”  She also demanded another $200 to redo the botched job she had created.

Resume writers don’t necessarily mean ill, nor does your cousin Maybel or your neighbor with a nifty resume program. They feel they are making you look as good as possible – even beyond possible. It rarely works, though. They  just don’t know any better.  You, on the other hand, know what is important and what a person seeing you needs to know. You are in fact better than the pros at this. The subject of the resume is your career and your skills, and who knows that better than you do?

Fortunately, the Food and Beverage industry is, at least in this one aspect, a facts first business, which makes resume writing easy. The problem for many job seekers is that they have seen so many wordy, convoluted and just plain bad resumes, they think theirs have to be equally wordy, and they fear they don’t have the verbal competence.

Au contraire, mon Cher. It’s easy, as you see if you click on our own Easy Peasy resume guide.  All you  need in a resume is your contact information and this:  Where you worked from when to when, your title, what the restaurant was about  and what you did. Basta. (How’s that for pretentious..two foreign language clichés in one paragraph? I bet it didn’t impress you any more than a bunch of fancy talk on a resume.

If you suffer “Threshold Anxiety” – the reluctance to start anything that daunts you a bit, go ahead and do the Easy Peasy variety, just replacing the data in a template resume with your own. You will find it exceptionally easy and actually may enjoy it. It you neighbor still wants to help, let her do some formatting magic, but make sure she doesn’t add anything.  Then take her to dinner with the $500 you saved by writing it yourself.

  5 Responses to “Why you, Food and Beverage Professional, should write your own resume”

Comments (5)
  1. I’ve been noticing quite a few people promoting their ability to get you an interview (a far cry from getting you a job and an eternity away from any guarantee that you will keep it, if your hiring is based on your resume rather than your abilities). I have also been receiving more professionally written resumes and been asked to correct them. (I won’t, or for a few thousand I might..but you can do the same thing yourself, so why bother?) In general you get an interview because your background conveys your qualifications, not because the writer uses clever tricks or manages to put anything is an exceptionally good (speak: undeserved) light.
    Caveat: There are chains (I don’t work for them) who “hire the attitude and train the skills”. If that’s where you need to go, then by all means do so, but you here are more likely to have a set of skills already. You can submit multiple resumes to these folk, furthermore, so before you put your money down, do your own work and see how that flies. By the way, doing your resume yourself forces you to focus exclusively on your background, your strengths and your weaknesses, which prepares you much better for the interview.

  2. Most graduating students from culinary school do obtain the assistance of the school for learning how to write their resumes. That’s a great benefit for the graduate. Assistance in placement is also another benefit. The majority of my graduating class from culinary school were hired before graduation – I was offered a full-time position while completing my internship.

    I will surmise that a small percentage of graduating students already have some culinary skills and employment history when graduating, but not many with the skills to be offered an Exec Chef or F&B Director position.

    However, becoming a professional with years of great experience under your belt in the industry… now THAT’s a tougher project to portray on your resume.

    Culinary jobs are not typical mainstream careers where there is a standard ‘job description’ you must follow. For me, it’s always been the bottom line of the job description (IF there has even been one written!) that says, “any and all duties as required” or even the favorite one of “make it work!”

    • Thank you, confectionlately. Absolutely. Many people go into the culinary professions because their skills are not academic, so they are not comfortable with their writing abilities. Good schools also offer resume writing lessons, but they do not seem to convey just how easy a resume should be.

  3. While I always have three or four HR pros and writing experts check for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors, I personally edited the content in the resume of every one of my more that 200 graduates.

    It might be purely coincidental, but we’re the only culinary school I know of with an 85% placement rate within 30 days of graduation.

    Of course, the fact that our folks had good skills probably didn’t hurt either.