Anyone who has ever waited tables knows that, much like any customer service job, it’s hard work. Back-achingly hard work. But potential future employers at the power plant, veterinary surgery, or law firm might not know this. They might not appreciate just how difficult this minimum wage, maximum effort job is.
But short of calling yourself a ‘food service technician’, how can you make your experience look good on your CV? You can hardly list your key responsibilities as ‘fork polishing’ and ‘balancing crème brûlées on various fingers’, however true this may be. You have to get a little imaginative.
1 Call yourself a ‘diplomatic negotiator’
A 4-year-old wants a very precise amount of decanted ketchup whilst a balding middle-aged man is repeatedly returning his broccoli due to its imperfect levels of crunch. Outlining your supreme skills of diplomacy and tact will make for a CV that the UN secretary general would be proud of.
2 List ‘international code breaker’ as a skill
“I want my steak like rare, but like, not that rare you know? But totally not that well done either. Okay?” Years of decoding people's food orders makes you a skilled translator, so throw that you're bilingual on your CV too.
3 Mention how much overtime you’ve worked
Okay, not on purpose, but you’ve put in loads of extra hours watching giggling gaggles of menopausal mums order their 6th bottle of wine two hours after closing as you very deliberately mop the floor.
4 Hobbies: acting
The fake laugh you do when the 794th customer in a row says “Is it free then?” when the card machine doesn’t work is worthy of at least two Oscar nominations. It’s not a coincidence that both Zach Braff and Jennifer Aniston used to wait tables, it sets you up with acting skills for life.
5 ‘Extreme self-control’ is your biggest strength
You’ve been on your feet 8 hours and just cleared half a cocoa-dusted triple chocolate torte from a table. Must. Not. Eat.
6 You can handle the heat
Literally. I’m sorry, you think responding to an overflowed inbox and liaising with clients is high pressure? Try holding a scalding plate of scallops and boiling-hot bowl of beans as you patiently wait for a customer to move their napkin off their placemat. Scars for life.
7 Point out your wine pairing skills
The ability to match alcoholic beverages to tasty treats is appreciated in any office. Deborah from accounts will forever be in your debt for your suggestion of swapping her Robinsons for a Pinot as she chomps on her microwaved cous-cous.
8 You're at your physical peak
When your wrist can hold two full soup bowls and you can carry seven side dishes in four fingers, it's clear waiting has sculpted your body into a powerful tool. Not to mention you do it all whilst running around on a trendy, but unforgiving, polished concrete floor in new dolly shoes that you may-or-may-not-have only just realised don't really fit.
9 Outline your highly crafted sales technique
Some might call it cheap to mention the new crunchy-cheesy-chilli fries in front of the moping 15-year-old who has already ordered three sides (without taking his headphones out, no less) but it sure pays the bills. Extra doughballs for them means extra dough for you, so no one leaves your table without buying five extra dishes they weren't sure they even wanted.
10 Disclose your psychic powers
It might be dangerous to tell a future employer you're a medium (in supernatural abilities, not, you know, size) but hopefully they hear you out. That lady in red? She wants the pepper mill. She didn't ask, you're just expected to know. And you do. And you know the twitch in that OAP's eye means he wants the dessert menu, and how that child is sitting means he needs more vinegar, and the way that man is snapping his fingers in the air means he is a horrible evil person who will die alone unloved.
11 Highlight your strong work ethic
In all seriousness, waiting tables teaches you some pretty kick-ass skills. By the end of your time in a restaurant, you’ll have experience money-handling, taking orders, communicating with customers, and working in a really, really high stress environment. And you did it all whilst studying. (Just don’t mention the time you “accidentally” told the chef to make one too many chocolate soufflés so you could have the spare.)
Feature © Disney