I'm going to put out a disclaimer at the beginning of section on How to Become a Bartender. This section is based on my personal
experience, and is in no way endorsing my experience as the standard
method for getting one's foot into the service industry.
I'm simply relating things from my perspective based on what I had to go through and deal with.
Let me put it this way. There is no right or wrong way. Not to sound corny, but some people are born into it. Their parents own a restaurant or a bar. They grow up bussing tables, waitressing, and mixing and serving drinks. These are the "legacies." Bartending is second-nature to them because they grew up with it.
Then there are those who are not born into it, per se, but set off on the path to becoming a bartender at an early age. They consider bartending their profession, and have dedicated a considerable amount of energy and time to perfecting their craft and trade. These are what I like to call the "artisans." They've acquired, practiced, and perfected bartending as a trade.
Last, but not least, is the group where the majority of us, including myself, fall under. We were neither born into it, nor chose it as a trade.
People in this group usually hold other full or part-time jobs and bartend on the side to, among other reasons, earn extra cash and perhaps meet interesting characters. I refer to this group as the "choicers." We fell into the trade by choice and a bit by chance.
With that said, let's jump right into the
good stuff! In this section, I will share the
Do's & Don'ts when it comes to how to become
I hope I got the main gist across. Now, let me explain a few of the
Do's and Don'ts.
Let me start with the DO's. Bartending is different from most jobs in that the hiring process does not start with the resume, but starts with you in person.
Most jobs require you to send in a resume and fill out an application online. So in essence, the first impression that the hirer gets of you is on paper.
The same cannot be said for the bartending industry.
The first impression that you want to give is not the one on paper, but the one from you in person. Here is why. The service industry is based heavily on customer-service.
As a result, the hirers place a strong emphasis on factors such as personality, grooming, persona, and looks - all of which can be gauged better in person than on paper.
That is why, it is pivotal that you visit the house in person. You basically need to sell yourself in order to become bartender.
This brings me to the next point. Once at the establishment, look for the hiring manager or bar manager.
Most of the time, (I would say 90%) you will be greeted by the hostess, another bartender, or waiter or waitress who will ask you if they can help you.
Truth is, they can't help you. Most of them will tell you that they are not hiring, when in fact they are, or to fill out an application that they will supposedly forward onto the owner. I would say, 9 out of 10 times, your application will never make it to the owner. Why?
Well, here is when a bit of psychology comes into play. To them, you are an outsider and a competitor. Another person who might "steal" their job. I know. I know. This sounds ridiculous! But, it's true.
To any secure, independent, and knowledgeable person, this might sound ridiculous. But the majority of people you will come across in this industry, at least based on my experience, are insecure and immature people.
They view you as competition. And by walking into the bar and asking for a job, you're basically feeding their insecurity and fear of possibly loosing their job to you.
That is why, the best thing that could happen to you is to by-pass the "gate-keepers" and meet with the manager face-to-face.
This is easier said than done. One way you can do this, is to call the place before-hand, ask for the manager's name, and ask when he or she will be in. That way, you at least have an idea of whom to look for and have a better chance of meeting the manager when you do visit the establishment.
I'm a firm believer in karma, so when I'm at the lounge, and someone walks in looking for a job, I do my best to direct them to a manager.
If there isn't one present, I ask them to fill out an application, and make sure that the manager gets the application. Hey, it's always good to have extra help around, right? And as long as you are doing your job correctly, you should not have to worry about losing it to someone else.
Now let's talk about the
Don'ts. Don't ever let the managers know that you went to bartending school. Don't say it in person, and don't include it in your resume.
Because nothing screams "amateur" than a certificate from a bartending school. In fact, this should be one of the golden rules to remember when learning how to become a bartender.
I'm not saying you should not go to bartending school. If the area you're in has a decently priced, respectable school, then by all means, go ahead and take the class. It's especially useful if you don't have a bartender friend who can show you the ropes or just don't feel comfortable teaching yourself the basics.
Just remember, not to tell the manager. Based on my experience, managers tend to value experience more than a certificate from a bartending school. Sure anyone can cough up the money, attend the class, and obtain a certificate.
Sure anyone can make a vodka tonic. But can you make that drink in addition to six other drinks while taking orders at the same time?
Not anyone can work under pressure, multi-task at the bar, and provide timely customer service.
These are things that you won't learn at any bartending school.
That's why don't be in the habit of letting management know you went to