How to Navigate the Restaurant Job Search Process

By: Kelly Sanborn

7 Minute Read

Sep 04, 2018

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restaurant job search

The restaurant industry is growing and more restaurants = more job opportunities.

Restaurant employees make up 10% of the overall workforce today, and restaurants are a great industry to either launch or progress your career. According to the National Restaurant Association, there will be 1.6 million new restaurant jobs created by 2027, so if you are in the market for a job in a restaurant, this is great news.

While there are several opportunities to capture, we know that the entire job application process can be daunting, but with the right steps, you can take control of the restaurant job search process.

Follow these six steps to learn how to best approach your search, prep your materials, and follow through to land a new position.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Knowing Why to Apply

It's important to get organized and conduct research before you begin applying to jobs. To begin your search, ask yourself a few questions.

  • What type of restaurant positions am I interested in?
  • Is there a specific restaurant that I know others have enjoyed working at?
  • What location is preferred to best suit my needs?

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to find better quality jobs that align with your interests.

Knowing How to Apply

Now that you’re equipped with your ideal criteria, there are several resources you can use to find these postings.

  • Head to an online job search engine like Indeed or Poached.
  • Tap into your network of your friends, family, and colleagues to learn which restaurants may be hiring. Many restaurants hire referrals, so don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation.
  • Check out your favorite restaurants on social media as they may post openings on these platforms. Some places like Flour Bakery host open interview days so you can stop in for an on-the-spot interview or simply use that time to meet the team and learn about what positions they have available.

2 hours left for open interviews !!! We are here until 4pm! 190 Mass Ave Cambridge !

A post shared by Flour Bakery + Cafe (@flourbakeryandcafe) on May 30, 2018 at 10:50am PDT

As you come across postings that interest you, compile these in one area so you can evaluate, prioritize, and begin tackling the application process with a clear mind.

Step 2: Update Your Resume

Prior to submitting your application, spend some time building or refreshing your restaurant resume. Always highlight your skills (i.e experience with a POS system or other restaurant technology) as well as your past experience (working in a previous restaurant or similar industry like customer service, hospitality, etc).

Restaurants often also look for references, so line up a number of strong references to accompany your resume, even if not asked.

Finally, have a friend take a pass at your resume. It never hurts to have a second eye for spelling and formatting before you send off. More often than not, they’ll be able to spot something you did not see and ensure your resume is polished.

Quick Hint: Tailor your resume to align with the position you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for a manager position, you’ll want to outline the experience you have that may include overseeing a project, managing others, etc.

Step 3: Know When to Apply

When applying, you can set yourself apart by dropping by the restaurant and submitting an application or passing along your resume in person. If this option is possible for you, think about when you plan to stop in to maximize your chances of finding the appropriate person to speak with.

restaurant job search process

Restaurants managers are always on the run, whether they are overseeing service at night or taking care of tasks during the day. Try to stop by during the changeover periods, typically after breakfast or between lunch and dinner. And of course, you can always call and ask the best time to swing by.

Step 4: Ace the Interview

So great news, you applied and landed the interview! Now it’s time to strut your stuff using these tips:

Be on Time

Show up at least 15 minutes early and spruce up your attire – it never hurts to be overdressed but it is most important to feel comfortable and confident.

Prep Your Questions and Answers

Prior to your interview, look up common interview questions to help prep and deliver some great responses. Even try practicing with a friend to help craft those answers. You should also be prepared to conduct a task that would be part of your day to day job responsibilities, this could include taking an order, using a POS system, etc.


Exert Positive Energy and Charisma

When working in a restaurant, owners look for enthusiastic and outgoing individuals who communicate well with others. This is a skill that you can’t put on paper, so it’s important that you showcase your personality in person.

Emphasis Your Experience

Whether you’ve worked in the restaurant industry or not, you can play up past experiences from customer service, retail, volunteer, etc. that will be relevant to a restaurant position.

Ask Questions

Showcase your research on the position, the restaurant, and the industry by asking questions to learn more. Come prepared with a list!

Say Thanks and Ask Politely About Next Steps

As the interview wraps up, take the time to learn about the interview process. Use language like “It was a pleasure speaking with you,” “I enjoyed learning more about the position,” and “I would love to know the next steps and if you need anything else from me.”

restaurant job search

Step 5: Don’t Forget to Follow Up

We can't stress this enough – do not forget to follow up. This could be in the form or an email, thank you letter, or phone call, and take the opportunity to express your enthusiasm and why you’d be a good fit for the position.

This helps keep you top of mind and can be a great time to ask any additional follow up questions.

Step 6: Evaluate Your Options

Congrats, you landed a job offer (or few!), and now it’s time to think about your options. You want to make sure that the position is right for you, so always evaluate the following:


You should feel comfortable with the proposed wage or salary as this is a crucial part of your job offer. You can use a resource like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to get a free salary estimate in today’s market, based on your experience and position.

Should you want to negotiate your pay, be sure to conduct your research prior to beginning this process.


When you receive a job offer, express enthusiasm, relay “thanks,” and ask what your timeline is to let the employer know your decision. Should you need more time, it is acceptable to ask for an extension as long as you clearly communicate what questions or additional information would be helpful to know as part of the evaluation process.


Don’t be afraid to reject an offer if it's not right for you. This could be the difference between accepting a job simply because you’re running to it or truly feeling great about the offer. Think back to the goals you set during the research process as they will help you make the right decision.

With these six actions, you’ll be empowered by your restaurant job search and ready to take on any opportunity!

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