It’s Not Just a Job, It’s a Career
Hoping for career advancement in the restaurant industry? The first step is to stop looking at your work as just a job and to start seeing it as a career. For those in entry level positions, it might not be easy to envision yourself as a top level manager, or even a restaurant owner some day, but the fact is the vast majority of the industry’s “suits” were at one point toeing the bottom rungs of the restaurant employment ladder. National Restaurant Association statistics show that nine of 10 salaried restaurant employees started out as hourly workers and 80 percent of all restaurant owners got their first taste of the industry at entry levels. So, it doesn’t matter where you are on the restaurant industry ladder to success, upward mobility is always possible. How? Well, as in any career, the secret to success lies at the nexus of hard work, experience, and planning.
The big picture
Look at your career as a marathon journey, one that progresses one small step at a time. But keep the big picture in mind: You might make a small step by impressing your boss today, but remember your ultimate goal is to be the boss. Do you know what bosses look for most when they size up their employees? It’s not always the one who works the hardest or puts in the most hours. Surveys show employers like team players with winning attitudes who consistently contribute to the success of the overall enterprise. So work hard, but work smart, too. Advancement comes to those who work at it every day, in little ways. Be on time, take on new responsibilities, try to anticipate your work area’s needs, keep abreast of trends and developments in the food service industry and seek ways to apply them to your work.
Want to know how to climb the job ladder in your particular operation? Ask. More than likely your boss will be flattered when you ask how he or she advanced up the ladder; it can also demonstrate ambition and enthusiasm for your work. We know you’re busy with your work schedule and other responsibilities, but find the time to take a course. If you’re working in the kitchen, a business management course might not seem like a top priority, but it can fit in nicely when you look at the big picture. Just like in business settings, networking can help in the restaurant business as well. You no doubt know other restaurant workers; find out what’s working in their establishments. Making and keeping contacts is important: Remember, that busboy you know today could be a restaurant owner 10 years from now. And, of course, pay attention to details when visiting restaurants yourself, because you never know when an innovative idea may strike.
Think outside the box, like Nathan Greene, a Las Vegas bartender who started creating his own cocktails. His 90-second YouTube video of himself making one of his signature concoctions led to his victory in the “Star of the Bar” national bartending competition at the National Restaurant Association’s annual International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event at the 2010 NRA Show in Chicago. And that accomplishment helped him land a killer job. If you’re working in the restaurant industry, chances are good that you already know there are plenty of opportunities. The National Restaurant Association recently asked restaurant employees about it. The results? Eighty-eight percent of restaurant employees said they have the chance to move from an entry-level job to management, and 81 percent agree that people of all backgrounds and experience have the opportunity to become business owners someday.