January 24

How to Get Your First Job in a Restaurant

Restaurants are great places to work for those just entering the workforce. So if you’re looking for your first job, here is how to land a restaurant job without any prior experience.  

Your first job is an exciting milestone and if you’re eager to take that next step, consider getting a job in a restaurant. Restaurant work will set you up with the tools you’ll need to be successful in any job, like experience working on a team and being reliable. Your boss and co-workers depend on you to show up (on time), learn the job and do it well, so it’s important to take your role seriously. A restaurant is like baking a cake—each ingredient is required in making the end product an exceptional experience.

If you’ve thought it over and have decided you’re ready to take on the responsibility, here’s some advice on how to get your first job in a restaurant.

Decide on a job path

The entry-level positions in a restaurant are hosts, bussers, and dishwashers. If you’ve never had a job before, it can be hard to decide which job will be a good fit. Keep in mind that hosts and bussers work the front-of-house, meaning they are on the floor and interacting with guests. These are social roles, so if you enjoy working with people and helping others, this could be the job for you. Hosts need to be organized and develop excellent time-management. Bussers are attentive, have a willingness to help and are quick on their feet.  

Dishwashing is a back-of-house position—you work in the kitchen and away from the customers. Dishwashers typically work alone, but are an essential part of the team. They’re responsible for sorting and washing all dishware the restaurant uses, which can be hectic at times. So, being organized, quick and attentive is important for this role. Dishwashing is generally the starting point for those who aspire to move up in the kitchen.

Consider Your Situation

Restaurant jobs are great for students who need a flexible schedule. It’s possible to only work weekends—but look for part-time jobs and let the hiring manager know of any scheduling conflicts right away. You can also look for seasonal work if you’re interested in a summer job. Many restaurants that hire seasonal workers like to rehire past employees, so once you’re in, you’ll have future opportunities.  Look into the business hours of the restaurants you’re applying to. Some places stay open a lot later than others, or the opposite—open a lot earlier. Considering what type of employment you can handle in addition to other responsibilities will guide you on what jobs to look for and apply to.

Location is important to consider. You want to make sure you can arrive to every shift on time and prepared to work hard. If you have a car, you might be able to work further out, but consider how much gas will cost getting to and from work. If public transportation or biking is your primary transportation, consider looking for jobs closer to your home. You want to make sure that a half-hour bus ride or bike ride doesn’t cause you to show up late. For your first job I’d recommend staying closer to home, if possible, where you could get to work in 15 minutes or less.

Prepare a Resume

Since you’re looking for your first job, you probably don’t have a traditional work history. In this case, you should use a Functional Resume. This format is different from a chronological resume in that you organize the resume using subheadings that list any volunteer work or extracurricular activities, then give examples of what you’ve learned from these experiences. For example, let’s say you play on the high school basketball team. Use that as a subheading and then list the skills you’ve gained like teamwork, communication and hustle—these are transferable skills that relate directly to a restaurant job.

Once you’ve decided what type of job you want, have considered the circumstances of your employment, and have a resume, you are all set to begin the application process. The last step in getting your first job is landing an interview and preparing for it! Getting your first restaurant job is exciting, and in my opinion, it’s the best job to develop a solid work ethic.


About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.