ABOVE THE COMPETITION
|Newsflash! You're not the only person
being considered for the job. How can you beat the other
candidates? It's common sense, but you have to make
yourself stand out. Here are a few simple tips to help
you become the "cream of the crop."
write a cover letter and use it to sell yourself.
Think about what the company needs and tell them how
you will help them. Quantify five fast facts about
your current accomplishments, e.g.s 1) Created new
latin-influenced menu 2) Reduced food inspection violations
3) Reduced overall food costs by 15% 4) Wine/food
pairings increased beverage sales by 7% 5) Retained
20% more sous chefs.
Before you go to an interview beBefore you go
Don't Go in Blind
Don't ever go to an interview without looking at
a company's web site for vital clues to that company's
culture or personality. If your personality isn't
a match, move on to another choice! (Peter Langlois
- Hospitality Career Expert)
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YOURSELF! - CREATE A PORTFOLIO
|Want to make an impression
at your next interview? Can you prove you're the best
choice for the position? Originally showcases for writers,
designers, and architects, career portfolios are becoming
a necessity with today's transitory workforce. These
portfolios are simply tangible collections of your career
achievements. Here are some suggestions on creating
First, gather your artifacts. These might include
e.g.s 1) Food articles you've written 2) Feature articles
about you or your restaurant 3) Outstanding reviews/evaluations
4) Lectures/demonstrations you've given 5) Graphic
representations of your impact (bar graph showing
rising sales or increase in dessert orders.)
Second, show off your strengths. Organize the material
to create a portrait of yourself. Want to teach; display
your planning, mentoring, and organizational skills.
Ready to be an executive chef; roadmap your budgeting,
discipline, time-management, and team-building experience.
Think you're management material; demonstrate your
problem-solving, cost-cutting, and diplomatic capabilities.
Finally, use the portfolio to get a job. Present
it as a visual aid while you recite your career history
and achievements. Seeing is believing, and a well
thought out portfolio will showcase you in ways words
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THEM TOOT YOUR HORN! REFERENCE STRATEGIES
|Obtaining quality references can be the
most difficult aspect of any job search. It can be especially
hard in the culinary industry since restaurants are
often here today, gone tomorrow. Don't despair. Plan
ahead using our effective "reference-gathering"
- Gather personal contact numbers or email addresses
from your superiors and check them often.
- Maintain copies of and articles about menus you helped
- Record facts about the restaurant e.g.s a) Type of
cuisine b)Number of seats c)Average meals served daily
d)Number of employees supervised.
- Create a list of statistics showing your impact e.g.s
a)worker retention b)feedback from customers c)prep
- Get permission from your references.
- Meet with potential references to discuss what to
focus on and what to avoid.
Keep in touch with your references. Are they over
or under-utilized? Will they continue to be a reference?
- Ask your references for quotes about your performance
- or even a general letter of recommendation, and
keep them on file.
- Give your references a heads up. Let them know who
will call, when, and what the person might want to
- Follow up. Thank them for their assistance. Ask how
you might make the process smoother next time.
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| Do you know your most marketable skills?
Do you have the skills employers are looking for? Perform
a skills inventory and answer these questions definitively.
Inventory your skills by assigning them to one of these
categories, "Taught-skills," "Transferable-skills,"
are those you have learned through education or experience.
Employers often consider these to be the hard skills
required to fulfill the job requirements. These might
include sugar-pulling, vendor management, or knowledge
of wine/food pairings.
"Transferable-skills" are items you bring
with you to any job. These soft skills can enhance
your performance for the employer. Time-management,
budgeting, and organizational skills fall into this
"Talent-skills" are traits which are unique
to you. These are flexible talents that define why
you are the perfect candidate. You might be goal-oriented,
friendly, or creative.
When you have completed your inventory, you will
be able to quickly select your most job specific skills
and tailor your resume to meet an employer's needs.
Your resume should always include several skills from
each category. Also, when you know your most marketable
skills, you will be more confident when presenting
yourself during an interview.
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QUESTION OF MOTIVATION
| It should be a simple question, "What
motivates you?" Unfortunately, if you're unprepared
it can ruin your interview as quickly as water causes
chocolate to seize. However, with a little advance preparation
you can confidently answer this question and discover
what aspects of a job really satisfy you.
Review your past job experiences and accomplishments.
List the times when you most enjoyed work and when
your duties created a feeling of fulfillment. Try
to determine why these tasks were so satisfying.
Ask yourself these questions: Do you enjoy managing
the flow of tasks or would you rather assist? What
specific details of the position were most exciting?
Which responsibilities would you most want to have
Separate your duties into like and dislike columns.
If possible, categorize the tasks by job description.
If you hate ordering, inventory, and cost-control,
maybe Kitchen Manager is not your dream job. However,
if you love problem-solving, diplomacy, and talking
with customers, consider applying for Front-of-House
There is no specific right or wrong answer to the
motivation question. The key is to understand which
work environments and responsibilities are right for
you. When you know which projects and tasks you enjoy
and which you don't, you can make more informed choices
about your future employment.
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