The late comedian Henny Youngman once joked, “When I go to a restaurant I always ask the manager, ‘Give me a table near a waiter.’”
This highlights the formidable influence a server, also known as a waiter or waitress, can have on a customer. A server’s general attitude and behavior has the power to make or break a customer’s dining experience. In fact, customers will often remember the service they received more so than the ambiance or the meal itself.
It’s no wonder why restaurants, cafes, and diners are always setting the bar higher when it comes to hiring servers. After all, hiring the wrong server could cost them hundreds to thousands of dollars in lost business. No customer wants to put up with horrible service, and once your business has a reputation for it, it’s difficult to recover.
That’s precisely why you’ll need to step up your game if you want to get hired. While a half-baked resume may have been enough to get you hired in the past, it won’t cut it anymore. This especially true if you endeavor to find a job that offers great tips and working conditions. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, we don’t need to tell you twice that there’s a world of difference between a good and great server job – let alone a nightmarish one!
So if you’re ready to define yourself as a highly competent server that businesses will be fighting over to hire, you need to refine your resume. To get started, take a read of our server resume guide below. You’ll discover illuminating expert insights such as:
- What counts as a great server resume
- How to ensure your resume flies past the ATS (and what that even is)
- Tips for making your skills and achievements shine
- How to customize your resume for each application
- How to remove the complexity out of making a resume
1. Multiple Template Examples
2. How to Write a Server Resume That Will Get You Through the Door?
How to format your resume
Formatting your resume doesn’t need to be complicated. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel (which, by the way, is highly inadvisable), it’s in your best interests to use a resume format that recruiters are known to favor.
We’re talking about none other than the trusty reverse-chronological format. Recruiters love it because it’s designed to highlight how your career has progressed. As we point out in our resume format guide, to use this format, “List your work history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position at the top. From there, you go backwards in history.”
You’ll additionally need to ensure that your resume is neat and tidy as a whole. That’s why we also recommend following the standard layout guidelines we’ve listed below:
- Number of Pages: Just one.
- Fonts to Use: A basic font that’s made for trouble-free reading. For example, Avenir Next and Cambria.
- Fonts to Avoid: Any complicated fonts that require concentration to decipher. For example, Hellicopters Script and Rosarian Bold.
- Margins: 1 inch on all sides.
- Line Spacing: 1 or 1.15.
- Header size: 14-16 point size.
- Text size: 11-12 point size
What makes a great server resume and how do you give recruiters what they’re looking for?
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I know this company would hire me if I could just make it to the interview stage,” you’re certainly not alone. It’s, no doubt, disheartening to be rejected when you know you’d ace the job.
That’s why it pays to a) understand what makes a great server resume and b) know how to give recruiters what they’re looking for.
Let’s highlight the most obvious qualities that are evident in every great server resume. A great one clearly shows that the candidate possesses the hard and soft skills needed to effectively perform the listed duties. It should also exemplify why they’ll be a star server if hired by highlighting the candidate’s relevant training, education, and achievements.
There’s also another equally vital, but underrated quality that every great server resume must show: the candidate’s motivation to succeed in the role. In fact, by reading this very resume guide, we know that you already have it in you!
The reason motivation is a sought-after quality by recruiters is because they aren’t just looking to hire servers with the right skills, training, and experience. They’re looking for a server who demonstrates these qualities and shows that they genuinely want to excel at the job.
Therefore, if you want to make an impressive resume, your resume will need to convey your enthusiasm for the prospective job. You can do this by applying with a professional-looking resume that addresses a recruiter’s expectations.
But before you just assume what these are, keep in mind that each recruiter will have a different idea of what constitutes the so-called “right” or “ideal” skills, training, experiences, and attitude a server should have.
So how do you figure out what they are for the particular jobs you’re gunning for? Analyze each job ad to pinpoint which qualities each recruiter is looking for. If you’re keen to create a great server resume that represents exactly what a recruiter is looking for, keep reading to discover the exact steps you need to take.
What are ideal server job qualifications and how do you list them correctly?
Fortunately, you won’t need any formal qualifications in order to become an in-demand server. That being said, it’s always a good idea to list any formal education you’ve obtained, especially if it’s related in some way to food service or customer service. For example, a degree or diploma in hospitality, tourism, or hotel management will be sure to impress.
In order to correctly list any degrees or diplomas you have, you must include the following information about each one in your “Education” section:
- The name of the degree
- The college or institute you studied at
- The state it is located in
- The years you studied
- Bachelor of Science in Tourism Development and Management (Resort and Hotel Leadership), Arizona State University, AZ, 2020 - Present
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Leadership, Pima Community College, AZ, 2017- 2019
Recruiters will also be dazzled if they see that you’ve undertaken any relevant training and certifications that will assist you to perform your duties as a server.
To list them correctly, provide the following information about each one in your “Training and Certifications” section:
- The name of the training or certification
- The institute you obtained it in
- The state the institution is located
- The years you studied
- Food Handler Card, ServSafe, NY, 2020
- NY On-Premise Alcohol Awareness Class (ATAP), National Hospitality Training, NY, 2019
Keep in mind that certain types of training and certifications may not just be ‘nice to haves’. Depending on the state you wish to work in and the duties a given job encompasses, you may be required to undertake certain mandatory training and certifications.
One common certification you may need to obtain is a food worker card, which is also referred to as a food handler’s permit. The rules about who needs to get this certification are state-dependent, so it’s crucial to check which rules apply in the particular state you’re working in as well as for each job.
For example, Washington State “requires that all food workers have food safety training before handling food served to the public.” According to their definition, you’ll be classified a ‘food worker’ if “you work with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or with any surface where people put unwrapped food.”
You may also need to obtain a responsible service of alcohol certification. Similar to a food worker card, whether you’ll need one will depend on both the state you’re working in and the nature of the job you’re applying for. So to avoid getting caught out, check which requirements apply in your state. This is especially crucial to do considering that they may be set to change.
For example, while California doesn’t currently require alcohol servers to hold Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) certification, they will be legally required from July 1, 2021 to hold one from an ABC accredited RBS training provider and pass an online ABC-administered RBS exam within 60 calendar days from the first date of employment.
Even if you don’t need either of these certifications, it may be wise to obtain them anyway for the sake of positioning yourself as a more desirable candidate. Plus, the knowledge you’ll develop about server best practices will help you to become a better server which is always a good thing to aim for!
Pro tip: Keep in mind that the validity of your food safety card is state-dependent. This means that if you want to work as a server in another state, you’ll need to apply for a new food safety card for that state.
How to get past ATS
If you thought that you only had to impress recruiters with your resume, you’re in for a rude shock. You also need to get it past ATS. ATS, which stands for ‘Applicant Tracking System,’ is a type of HR software that’s utilized by recruiters to make the recruitment process run more smoothly and efficiently.
Without ATS, a recruiter will need to manually check over hundreds to thousands of resumes to see which ones make the cut. However, with ATS, this time-consuming task can be delegated to the software’s ingenious algorithms that are designed to instantly detect whether a resume has met the recruiter’s criteria. While this criteria can encompass a number of requirements the recruiter sets, the most powerful one is without a doubt keywords.
Keywords are words that appear throughout a job ad that the recruiter has used to express what an ideal candidate should look like. As this guide to keywords points out, keywords can include:
- Job titles
- Business functions
- Required strengths
- Degrees or diplomas
- Computer applications
ATS will analyze the keywords you did or didn’t use to determine whether you’re a good fit for the position. If it determines your keyword usage isn’t adequate, it will reject your resume on the spot.
So if you want to get past ATS, you’ll need to take the following 3 steps:
- Identify the keywords that appear in the job ad for the job you’re interested in.
- Work out which ones match your particular skill set, professional experiences, educational background, and so on.
- Incorporate the keywords that apply to you throughout your resume in a natural manner.
The importance of naturally incorporating keywords cannot be overstated. There are candidates who try to trick the ATS by artificially adding keywords to their resume. For example, they may repeat the keywords excessively or include them in places where it doesn’t make sense to. Believe it or not, some try to hide keywords using white writing!
If you’re tempted to do any of these things (a practice referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’), you should seriously reconsider. ATS is advanced enough to pick up on most instances of keyword stuffing. But even if it doesn’t catch you red handed, a recruiter eventually will. Needless to say, once they do, your dreams of getting hired will be dashed.
So where exactly should you include the keywords on your resume? There are two main sections you should focus on: your resume’s “Employment History” section and “Skills” section. We’ll discuss how to do this in the two sections that follow.
Pro tip: In case you were wondering, ATS isn’t just some niche technology that only a handful of companies are using. A report by Capterra found that 75% of recruiters and talent managers use some form of recruiting or ATS!
How to highlight your most important achievements
As you’ve just discovered, one of the most vital sections to add any keywords you identified in a job ad is your employment history section. By incorporating these keywords throughout each of the achievements you feature in this section, you’ll demonstrate that you offer precisely what a recruiter is yearning for from an ideal candidate.
Before you begin writing, you’ll first need to learn how to create impactful achievements.
To see what you shouldn’t do, take a look at the following achievement that aims to target the keyword “time management”:
- Demonstrates excellent time management skills in every task performed.
First of all, we must at least commend the candidate for incorporating a keyword into their achievement, as this is sadly more than many candidates do. But apart from that, this achievement is entirely unremarkable.
The glaring problem is that not only did the candidate assert in an incredibly vague manner that they utilize their “excellent time management skills” in “every task performed,” but they also failed to provide an example of doing so.
Let’s now take a look at a server resume achievement targeting the same keyword that shows what you should do:
- Demonstrates excellent time management skills by serving and cleaning up after customers 20% more efficiently than the team average.
This candidate’s achievement ticks all the boxes a recruiter would be after. It smoothly incorporates the keyword by centering the entire achievement around it. The candidate has specified the tasks they utilize their time management skills (“serving and cleaning up after customers”), which is substantially more insightful than just writing ““every task performed”.
However, by far the most impressive thing the candidate did is quantify their achievement. The candidate paints a picture of how noteworthy their time management skills are by sharing that they’ve helped them perform their duties “20% more efficiently than the team average.”
Including numbers and percentages is a well-known way for drawing a recruiter in, so if you want to create awe-inspiring achievements, make sure to do the same.
Which soft and hard skills should you mention and how can you do so correctly?
If you were to break down the skills-based keywords you find in a given a job ad into two groups, you’ll see that they fit perfectly into one of two categories:
- Soft skills
- Hard skills
Soft skills are those based on your interpersonal or communication abilities. Whereas, hard skills describe tangible abilities that are more technical and job-specific in nature.
You can correctly feature any skills-based keywords that compliment your skill set by listing 6 to 8 of the most outstanding ones you hold in a dedicated “Skills” section. You should also incorporate these as well as any other skills that you have and the job ad mentions throughout your work history section (as we explored above). If possible, it’s highly advisable to additionally include a few in your resume objective or summary.
If you’re after some examples of the hard and soft that are highly regarded by recruiters, take a look at the following list. We compiled it using the skills-focused keywords we identified in real-life job ads for servers.
- Customer service skills
- Self motivated
- Fast learner
- Team player
- Time management
- Ability to stand for long periods of time
- Ability to work in a fast paced environment
- Good communication abilities
- Hard worker
- Serving food and beverage orders in timely manner
- Performing opening and closing duties
- Welcoming customers
- Taking customer orders
- Operating a touch-sensitive POS System
- Providing answers to customer queries
- Maintaining cleanliness of the restaurant
- Cash handling
- Complying with responsible alcohol service guidelines
- Great salesmanship
How to write a resume objective or summary and examples of both
If you want your resume to captivate recruiters from the get-go, forget everything you’ve heard about resume objectives and summaries being optional. We believe that it’s vital for entry-level candidates to include a resume objective and for experienced candidates to include a resume summary because a well-written one will speak volumes about your suitability as a candidate.
To learn more about how to write a perfect resume objective or summary, read on.
Pro tip: It’s best to keep your resume objective or summary to 2 to 4 sentences.
In order to write a winning resume objective, you need to be aware of the common pitfalls inexperienced candidates make. If you manage to avoid them yourself, you can almost guarantee a recruiter will view your application in a more positive light.
The following resume objective represents what to avoid doing:
- High school student who is looking for their first job wants to work as a server in a diner. You would regret not hiring me as I would make a great server thanks to my amazing skills.
As you can see for yourself, this candidate didn’t put much care or effort into writing their resume objective. It’s crystal clear from the candidate’s poor attitude that they have a lack of respect for the given job and the recruiter’s time. They act entitled to the job because of their self-proclaimed “amazing skills,” but haven’t stated what they are. They also haven’t highlighted a single attribute they offer as a candidate.
Moreover, the lack of specificity in their writing makes it sound as if they’re just looking for any old job. Remember, recruiters want to find servers who are motivated to work for their particular company. Needless to say, the negative impression all of these red flags would leave on the recruiter would be enough for them to reject their resume right there and then.
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s look at an example of a resume objective that represents what you should be doing instead:
- Hard-working and responsible high school student is seeking to become a customer-focused server at Billy Joe’s Diner. With my friendly demeanor and ability to follow directions, I endeavor to become a server who always puts a smile on customers’ faces.
It’s even clear from a quick glance of their resume objective that this candidate wants the job at Billy Joe’s Diner. Their motivation is evident in everything from their positive tone to the fact that they tried their best to address the recruiter’s criteria. They also shared a relevant goal they have for working at the Diner (“become a server who always puts a smile on customers’ faces”), which is an easy way to impress any recruiter.
Moreover, this candidate is much more skillful in representing themselves to the recruiter. Unlike the previous candidate that blatantly pointed out their inexperience, this candidate focused on the relevant skills they can offer instead. It’s worth noting that although their inexperience means that they can’t offer the hard skills the recruiter is after, the candidate still manages to impress them by focusing on the relevant soft skills they possess.
Many experienced candidates underestimate what it takes to write a strong resume summary. Consequently, many end up submitting one as unsatisfactory as this one:
- Server with 2 years of experience who is looking to change to a new diner. Based on how skilled I am at my current server job, I know I will be an asset to your team.
This candidate has a lot to improve on if they want to give themselves a proper shot at getting a new job. Although they have 2 years of experience and boasted how “skilled” they are, they haven’t shared any details about the relevant skills they have gained or experiences they’ve had as a server.
The candidate even went so far as to proclaim that they know they’d be an asset to the team. While it’s perfectly fine to state something like this, keep in mind that if you do so you’ll need to back it up!
If you want to see how to do this correctly, take a look at this candidate’s resume summary:
- Hard working server with 2 years of experience is looking to bring their great salesmanship to L’amour Restaurant. With an impressive ability to take customer orders as well as perform opening and closing duties, I know I will be an asset to your team. Winner of the Server of the Month award at my current workplace.
As you may have noticed, this candidate has worked the same number of years as a server as the previous candidate. However, their resume summary is ten times better because they took the time to carefully express which relevant skills and experiences they have to offer and to back them up.
For example, they mention the soft skills (hard working and great salesmanship) and hard skills (ability to take customer orders, perform opening and closing duties) that the recruiter is after. But the candidate doesn’t stop there - they provide evidence of their excellent work as a server by mentioning the relevant award they have to their name.
Considering that they’ve convingly explained why they’re such a stand out server, we’re sure that a recruiter would agree that they’d be an asset to the team at L’amour Restaurant.
How to target your resume for each application
There isn’t a recruiter around who will be pleased to receive a generic resume that a candidate has also sent to every other recruiter. It’s the equivalent to receiving a store-bought birthday card that lacks any personal touch from the sender.
If you want a recruiter to pay attention to your resume (and not just reject it on the spot), stop using the same resume for different applications. Instead, start targeting your resume so that it addresses the specific criteria for each job.
So how, then, can you target your resume for each application? You’ll need to strategically use the keywords you find in a job ad throughout your resume.
If you’ve read all of the advice we shared above, you’ll already be an expert in doing this.
You’ll therefore know that the key to targeting your resume effectively is ensuring that it focuses on your most relevant attributes. That is, the education, training, skills, and achievements you highlight should be as relevant as possible to the job you’re applying for.
Targeting your resume, no doubt, requires substantial effort on your behalf. But just keep in mind that each time you do, you’ll be dramatically boosting your chances of getting hired.
How to make your resume stand out
Forget all of your plans to add design details to your resume. When it comes to making your resume stand out, experts agree that it’s all about getting the fundamentals right. Here are our top recommendations for effectively distinguishing your server resume:
- Clear the clutter: As a server, you’ll be well aware that clutter is unacceptable on any tables. The same goes for your resume; it needs to be free from any elements that will make it appear too cluttered. In addition to removing any images, excessive colors, and other design elements from your resume, you’ll also need to be mindful of how much text is on your page. If your resume is lacking white space, remove any irrelevant information and work on making your sentences more succinct.
- Get further training: Candidates who have made the effort to obtain additional training and certifications can expect to receive far more attention from recruiters. After all, what recruiter wouldn’t jump at the chance to hire someone with that level of dedication to the job? If you’re lacking in this area, consider getting further training. If time is an issue, choose from one many relevant courses available online. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a food worker card is usually only around $10!
- Know what to leave out: We’ve focused primarily on what to include in your resume, but it’s also important to know what not to include (unless otherwise specified). For example, it’s considered a massive faux pas to mention your salary expectations. While not a faux pas, including your references will take up precious space. Finally, be sure to leave off unnecessary details like your age, race, appearance, religion, or political preferences.
3. How to Make a Resume That Stuns Using Resumebuild.com’s DIY Resume Builder
Now that you know the A to Z of making a great server resume, the only thing that’s left to do is start putting it together. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. It’s already hard to find the time and drive to work on your resume in the first place. But that’s nothing compared to the challenge of writing everything out. You’ll need perseverance to succeed, as well as a knack for resume formatting and writing.
So what should you do if you’re short on time or fear that your resume making skills aren’t up to scratch? Opt for an innovative solution to a complex problem: use a resume maker to create your resume.
We created our DIY resume builder on Resumebuild.com because we don’t want you or any other candidate to dread resume writing. We also don’t think it’s fair that brilliant servers like yourself may miss out on being hired simply because you’re unable to make a stunning resume all by yourself.
Our resume builder will assist you every step of the way to quickly and easily piece together a resume that expertly showcases your top skills, qualifications, and achievements as a server. You’ll start off by picking an attractive resume template and filling out your contact info. Then, you’ll share details about your professional experiences and educational background. Next, you’ll list your most relevant skills. Finally, you’ll complete your resume objective or summary. When you’re done, you’ll be given the chance to review your sparkling new resume and download it.
In the end, you’ll have a server resume that exceeds recruiters’ expectations. Sound enticing? Start building your resume in just minutes.
- Write patrons’ food orders on order slips, memorize orders, or enter orders into computers for transmittal to kitchen staff.
- Serve food or beverages to patrons, and prepare or serve specialty dishes at tables as required.
- Present menus to patrons and answer questions about menu items, making recommendations upon request.
- Inform customers of daily specials.
- Explain how various menu items are prepared, describing ingredients and cooking methods.
- Prepare tables for meals, including setting up items such as linens, silverware, and glassware.
- Stock service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens.
- Greet customers
- Seat customers
- Deliver food to tables
- Collect payment
- Assist host or hostess by answering phones to take reservations or to-go orders, and by greeting, seating, and thanking guests.
- Perform cleaning duties, such as sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpet, tidying up server station, taking out trash, or checking and cleaning bathroom.
- Fill salt, pepper, sugar, cream, condiment, and napkin containers.
- Garnish and decorate dishes in preparation for serving.
- Set up dining areas meeting specifications for events and/or large parties.
- Restock items from food displays and keeping communication with kitchen staff to verify availability.
- Check guests’ identification to properly list and bill food and beverage consumption under the club’s membership.
- Serve food or beverages to patrons, performing wine service as required.
- Time stamp in
- Help food preparation for upcoming shift
- Stock inventory
- Assist section
- Present check
- Finish cleaning duties throughout shift
- Write Patrons order on guest check and split accordingly to station