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6 Tips and Tricks; How to Get Hired in the Service/Alcohol Industry

Temp job, side gig or potential career, here's how you get hired.


Whether you're a uni student looking for some extra cash, something to put on your resume, in need of a short term job or really want to get into the service and alcohol industry, this is the article for you!

Over the years, I have worked in several venues within this very 'Marmite' industry, and I am one of the ones who absolutely fell head over heels in love with it—whilst hating elements of it with a passion at the same time, of course. 

It's a confusing sort of jig, and it all depends on the venue, the people you work for, and the customers that come in—so before you jump in, consider the type of venue you would want to work at and the sort of people you'd be willing to deal with. Different venues, different crowds.

There's a reason most of us bartenders have morbid sense of humour, so pick wisely. 

Visit potential venues on busy nights to see what the atmosphere is like and how the employees work. How does the management team encourage its staff?

Be prepared for some major juxtaposition before heading into this one, but if you're sure it's for you and you're ready to give it a go, let's start off with the best first; here's tip number one...

Throw away the damned CVs.

Yup. You read right. Cause let me let you in on a little secret of mine.

I have never, not once, not even a single time been hired in this industry through my CV. 

And it's a good job, too, cause I've never been able to write a decent one! 

Don't even bother filling out those ridiculous online applications, cause unless your CV is near perfection, it ain't even gonna be seen by human eyes. 

On the one occasion, I was asked for one, I simply turned to the GM with a smile and said 'There's nothing a piece of paper could tell you that I can't in conversation, Plus, I'm much prettier to look at.' Maybe that's what got me the job?

[Of course, if you're going for a chain such as Wetherspoons, Turtle Bay or Smokehaus you will more than likely be told you have to apply online as you will need this account to see rotas and complete training/legal forms and agreements—if you get hired. Still, there's never any harm in doing step 2.]

So I bet you're either incredibly intrigued, or about to click away from this page BUT! Before you make that very bad decision, I invite you to check point number two...

Ask to speak to a manager.

If you can get the General Manager or even the owner to come and talk to you, even better!

On more than four occasions, I've been hired on the spot (well, given a trial shift, anyway, but hired afterward) by simply walking into the venue I would like to work at, and asking to speak to a manager

I once even did some research into the manager's names so I knew who to ask for. This way the bar-person or waiting staff you ask are much more likely to just go get them without questioning it. This is important as they don't then simply turn around and say 'Sorry, we're not hiring right now, but you can hand in a CV and I'll pass it on.' 

Another trade secret—even if we do pass it on after scrutinising (and potentially making fun of*) your hard work, the managers will throw it away. 

Or, it sits silently and sadly on a shelf, desk or drawer, only to be recycled on the next clear-out.

Ways to ask can include:

'Hey, is there was a manager around I could speak to please?'

'Hello, is there a manager I could quickly talk to about a trial shift please?' This way they may even assume you already have a trial shift, and not reject your inquisition. 

Once you have the managers attention, greet them with a smile, shake their hand and say something like,'Hi there how are you today? So sorry to interrupt, I'm [insert name] and I was just wondering if you had any jobs going at the moment? I'm looking for some [short term/long term/weekend] work and this venue seems like such a brilliant place to work.' [Have reasons why.]

Don't forget to grab their number in case you need to get a hold of them.

*Perhaps you might want to avoid writing about your love of drawing anime and how you've learned valuable skills through playing pokemon go and COD. Just in case you were tempted. [True story, bro.]

Dress Accordingly

Fit the venue. 

This one sounds obvious, but if you're going around your local town or city to a number of differently themed places, just remember, they will judge you off your appearance and how well they think you may suit their venue

If you have to go to all the venues in the same day, here's one way to do it; LAYERS! 

Yes, you too can be just like Shrek, relatable to onions all over the world! but let's not get carried away and end up looking like a marshmallow...

If you know you're going to be walking into a five star restaurant one minute, then popping across the road to the local dive bar, you're not exactly going to fit into both places with one dress style.

But, if you prepare right, come up with a rough order that you can visit each venue, and by simply layering a smart shirt or a smashual jacket over a cut up band T, you can blend in a lot easier from one to the next with minimal effort.

Remove one layer here... add another there... You get it. 

Even a smart or shabby scarf can work wonders for your newly found chameleon powers, but always remember to show at least a touch of your personality.

Personality is one of the most important things a potential employer will be looking at. Nobody wants a shy, mumbling barmaid who's too afraid to ask if you want to double up on spirits for £1... Or a waiter who's too nervous to approach a table.

Of course, if you're only planning on applying to the places with lax dress code, or vise versa, you can skip the layering process.

Be. Available.

Make sure that you're aware of the busy nights at each venue you're job hunting at.

They will almost always throw you in the deep end head first, and give you a trial run on one of these key nights.

It looks bad to say 'Sorry, I'm busy this weekend, I should be free next Friday though?'

They'll have forgotten you by then, buddy.

They have essentially just given you an opportunity, and it can't look any worse to them than you basically saying you have better things to do. 

Be. Available.

Show up.

And be early.

I know this one sounds obvious, but about 60 percent of the people I've seen get offered a trial shift never show up. 

Around 12 percent have shown up late. 

About 8 percent have shown up in the venue drunk as a skunk later that same night... Yeah...

Make a note, set reminders... in this digital age, there is no excuse for a no show. 

If you genuinely can't make it, ring up or message, explain and apologise. Immediately offer the next available date. 

And, if you've completed a trial shift but would rather not return, BE HONEST! You could potentially put the venue in a right pickle if you're supposed to show up the next weekend and you just don't bother. Plus, it's just plain rude. 

If you're worried about them being mad, don't be, cause even if they are [unlikely] at least it will be for the right reasons. 

Don't forget, venues talk to one another; you don't want to be known as the 'No Show' or 'Don't bother.'

No.6. Be confident, clear, and co-operative.

There had to be some sort of Three C's in here somewhere didn't there?

But seriously, ultimately, the service industry is a tough one. You'll find yourself mentally preparing before each shift, getting ready for the worst situations that may never even happen, but often do and even worse.

 You'll never work so hard (usually for so little money) in your life. But my god if you crack it, it's so totally worth it! 

When you walk into that bar, pub, club, restaurant or wherever the heck you're going, make sure; 

  • You stand tall!
  • You look the part!
  • You show your superb personality!
  • You speak clearly and with purpose!
  • You show them enthusiasm and balls!
  • You accept any offers coming your way!
  • You make them feel like their new best friend and you smile bravely! (Just don't freak 'em out.)

And you secure that trial shift before you walk out the door! 

Now, get out there and get employed!

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6 Tips and Tricks; How to Get Hired in the Service/Alcohol Industry
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