Tips and Advice for Bartenders Searching for a New Job

job tips hiring for bartenders“I’m really looking at this month as a fresh start,” said USBG National Charity Foundation volunteer board member Kim Haasarud during Thursday, September 3’s Instagram Live update.

The USBG Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Campaign may have come to an end, but the Foundation remains committed to being a personal and professional resource for the hospitality industry.

As part of that commitment, Haasarud spent this week’s Instagram Live interviewing Ally Barton of AllyHires, where she works to help small business owners in the career space transform their hiring & business strategy. Ally has worked on both sides of the bar—as a server/bartender and also in recruitment for the hospitality industry where she spent over a decade working for a number of top companies. She herself recently experience a furlough thanks to the pandemic, and she just landed a new position at Brad Metzger Restaurant Solutions.

Staying Sharp

Kim and Ally started off the conversation by talking about things unemployed or furloughed bartenders can do now.

Ally said during her furlough she took classes, many of them free, to learn new skill. She recommends bartenders do the same and look into free classes to keep their skills sharp or to learn something new.

The other benefit of classes is that they help you maintain a schedule and give consistency to your day.

Skill Sets

Ally covered some of the top transferrable skills that bartenders have that can translate into other roles. “As a bartender you are managing so many things at once,” she says.

  • Sales Skills: Bartenders are used to upselling alcohol, anticipating the needs of guests, etc., and these can work in sales roles in any industry.
  • Sense of Urgency: The ability to multitask, get things done, and stay on top of tasks is a work ethic that can’t be taught. Kim added that when she interviews, it’s all about work ethic, personality, problem solving, etc.—she can teach someone how to make drinks, but she can’t teach work ethic or charisma.
  • Guest Relations/Customer Service: A bartender’s experience in providing superior customer service can translate into working with clients in other industries.


When it comes to building a resume, Ally says the first step is to Google bartender resumes and grab a free template off of Google. She says to use those examples as a guideline for how to structure your own resume. There’s no need to spend money to have one made.

To make your resume stand out in a crowded market, Ally says to focus on numbers, which the human eye is naturally attracted to. You may not know the exact sales figures at your previous establishment, but you know what you made on big nights or during big events—use those numbers on your resume.bartender jobs

Ally also says not to spend too much time worrying about your resume’s aesthetic—it doesn’t matter much in the hospitality industry. One thing about the layout she does recommend you don’t do is include your photo on the resume. Most companies are very aware of discrimination, and they don’t want to possibly discriminate based on a photo and open themselves up to liability, so resumes featuring a photo can often be trashed immediately.

Hiring Process Changes

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment was at an all-time low and it was a job seeker’s market. Now, with as many as 1 out of 10 Americans not working that wants to be working, the competition is steep.

“Because there’s so many more applicants, it’s going to be tougher to get a job,” says Ally, noting that applicants shouldn’t get discouraged. She recommends checking your email frequently (including spam folders) so that you’re the first to respond to any potential emails from recruiters.

Also be prepared for less in-person interviews and more video or Zoom interviews.


When preparing for an interview, look at the company website and familiarize yourself with the menu, the company, and if possible, who is interviewing you.

During the interview, honestly is the best policy. Ally says to be honest about what you don’t know and what you do know.

She recommends also working to build a connection with the interview through humor, positivity, and charisma. She says if you’re able to make an interviewer laugh, you will be very memorable to them. If you’re asked about your weakness, this is a great time to introduce some self-deprecating humor. Just be sure you’re not being too laid back and that you’re showing the best possible side of yourself in an interview. “With the market as tight as it is for job seekers, you can’t afford to be too casual,” says Ally.

Bartenders also can’t afford to be negative in interviews. It sends the message to the employer that you’re hard to please and not happy. When asked to talk about negative or challenging situations, make sure you end the story in a positive way that shows you in a good light.

And if you’re asked about what happened with your previous employer, don’t use the words “let go,” “fired,” or “terminated.” They carry negative connotations, and the employer will immediately think the worst. Instead, use words like “laid off” or “furloughed” especially if your job loss was due to COVID-19 closures.

Similarly, if you’re asked about how your previous employer handled COVID-19 closures, focus on the positive elements and share any stories of ways in which you helped the business.

Social Media

Ally says that social media profiles aren’t checked as much in the hospitality industry–especially now when the applications are pouring in. She says regardless, employers rarely check Facebook. It’s Instagram and LinkedIn that matter.

Above all, make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume, and avoid putting anything too salacious on your Instagram.

For more tips on hiring and job seeking, follow Ally Barton on LinkedIn and Instagram.
Photos (top to bottom): Vojtech Okenka from Pexels; Lukas from Pexels