Restaurant serving is one of the most common occupations in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, many popular restaurants and bars, as well as upscale establishments, expect more than a simple job application from prospective employees. Servers are expected to show their experience and professionalism through a descriptive, well-formatted resume. There are three basic types of resumes: chronological, analytical and combination.
Chronological resumes are the traditional option. They highlight your work background by listing each employment experience in reverse chronological order, placing your most current position first. This format has the advantage of highlighting your level of experience, which is important if you are a server with a lot of experience to offer. In addition, employers are likely to be familiar with this format and to understand and appreciate it. However, the chronological format has the disadvantage of highlighting your lack of experience.
Analytical resumes, also known as functional resumes, are a newer option that employers may be less familiar with. These resumes group skills into related categories rather than focusing on your work timeline. For example, you might have headings labeled "Wine Knowledge," "Food Safety Certifications," or "Knowledge of Cuisines." This type of resume is helpful for candidates with little or no serving experience because it highlights knowledge rather than positions held. However, many employers do not like this format because they find it confusing or are unfamiliar with it.
Combination resumes include a reverse chronological list of experiences but also have categories that list specific skills. These resumes are best suited for applicants who have had a few serving experiences in which they have gained multiple skills. In addition, this formatting is useful for those who have related food service experience but who have not served before. However, like the analytical resume, some employers will not like or understand the formatting.
Tips for Choosing the Best Format
Sometimes it's difficult to know which formatting option is best. In this case, the best strategy is to examine the job ad. If the ad emphasizes serving experience, choose the option that best highlights your experience, or hides your lack of experience. However, if the ad emphasizes skills that you possess, such as knowledge of a specific cuisine, an analytical resume is the best option because it highlights those skills for the employer.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.