Of course you need a resume and cover letter. I’m going to provide you with some nice templates for both of these essential items that will work extremely well. The Food and Beverage Industry has changed throughout the years in their hiring practices – specifically, what they’re looking for in resumes.

Important: You can download the example resume and cover letters from the “Materials” link at the top of this page. I have also added a couple of additional downloads (Excel Spreadsheets), so you can keep track of your interview and resume submissions. All of these documents can also be found in Section 20 – Course Resources.

Short and sweet – that’s the name of the game. If you’ll follow along in this lesson, I’m going to point out not only HOW to put together the perfect resume – but WHY you’re going to implement these tips and techniques.

And, I’ll provide you with a couple of templates where you can simply swap out the information and make them your own. Easy.

This is Bartending School – not “How to Build a Resume” school. So, I’m going to point out the main things that Bar Managers (and Human Resources Departments), are looking for on resumes – when you have no bartending experience.

Side Note: I want to make something perfectly clear here. As you know, I am a big fan of Bartending Schools. Especially mine. I believe wholeheartedly in mentioning that you attended Bartending School on your resume and in your cover letter.

Why? The bar, or the bar manager (at the bar owner’s direction), may hire only experienced bartenders. That’s fine. It’s going to happen, and that’s their loss – not yours. In this situation, whether or not you list Bartending School on your resume simply is not going to matter if you have no bartending experience. You’re not going to get an interview. You just move on.

But what if they have no issues hiring inexperienced bartenders? You have one inexperienced applicant who did not attend Bartending School, and one that did – you. All things being equal, who do you think they’re going to favor? Believe me, they’re going to look closer at the applicant who took the initiative to learn more about the bartending profession.

Moving on, there is some great stuff online on how to build resumes – I know, because I have read most of the new information out there. I have done the hard work so you won’t have to, and taken all of this new information into consideration. I constantly interview general managers, bar owners, and bar managers – and get their take on things. Then, I added my experience into the mix. You’re going to like this, so let’s get started.

Your Resume

Keep your resume simple. Period. You’re not applying for a job as an Industrial Engineer. Or a Software Developer. Or a teacher, CPA, or a model/actor. No, you’re looking for your first job as a bartender.

Generally speaking…..

Your resume must be:

  • One page. Yes, one page only!
  • Short and to the point
  • Text only
  • Two colors maximum (preferably black and blue)
  • No graphics or blocks of color
  • No trendy photos
  • No head shots
  • No “watermarks” of any kind

6 Required Items on Your Resume

  • Your Objective
  • Contact Information
  • Work Experience
  • Activities and Interests
  • Education
  • Key Skills and Characteristics

We’re going to discuss all of the above items as we proceed along here, but first I want to discuss the importance of submitting online resumes. I’ll use a real life example that happened to me just a couple of months ago.

Every time I go out for dinner or drinks, or whatever, I make it a point to speak with the bartender on duty. Just little things – how she likes her job, did she have prior bartending experience – things of that nature. I also speak with management when I get a chance.

So, here I am having dinner with my family at a very popular nationwide bar and restaurant chain. I noticed the manager walking around and casually speaking with other dinner guests (that’s what great managers do). I got her attention and asked her if they hired inexperience bartenders. During the course of our conversation, I learned the following things about this particular company:

  • They do hire inexperienced bartenders
  • They prefer hiring from within
  • They train new bartenders for about a week – experienced or not
  • They will interview “walk-ins” on the spot – if they have already summitted an application online!
  • They do view Bartending School as a “plus”

This was not an unusual conversation here. I always ask managers many of the same questions about their hiring procedures that I asked this particular manager. Surprisingly, most of their answers are very similar.

The point I’m trying to make here (actually, two points), is that you need to start submitting your resumes online – to every company involved in the Food & Beverage Industry. Secondly, these companies will hired inexperience bartenders! So, do not listen to those naysayers and negative people out there – go out and apply at every bar you can!

Side Note: Remember that I gave you a starting list of companies in the previous lesson. And, there is an Excel spreadsheet in Section 20 – Resources, that will aid in organization.

Let’s move on to the resume stuff…

A Head Shot or Not?

No. Never. Firstly, you’re not a model or an actor. (Well, maybe you are). If an employer wishes to see what you look like – they’ll check your Social Media accounts. And, if you think your future employers are not looking at your posts, and whatever, from your Social Media – think again. More on that in a following lesson.

Secondly, having a photo on your resume may invite discrimination. I’m not going to cite Federal Laws here, but I think we’re all aware of how bias can creep into the hiring process. Employers know very well that they need to avoid any discrimination hassles.

Let me elaborate on this a bit more. If your resume has a head shot, many hiring managers simply put it in the “do not hire” column. Why? Because a photo reveals a lot about you: your sex, possible age, ethnicity, and more. None of these physical traits should be used in the hiring process – they’re irrelevant (or should be).

Employers, and their Human Relations department, really don’t want to be accused of bias. So, in order to eliminate any potential bias problems, they simply discard any resumes with photos or headshots on them. Yes, it’s a bit overkill on their part – but I get where they’re coming from with all of the lawsuit happy people out there.

And then, of course, there ARE biased managers and interviewers. Sadly, these people may take a look at your photo and decide that you simply do not “fit in.” I know, we’re supposed to be past all of that crap – but it is what it is. Don’t give them the opportunity.

Thirdly, many companies (most all of the Fortune 500 companies), now use software systems to scan resumes and pick out the keywords that they’re looking for. These systems are called “Applicant Tracking Systems” or “ATS.” I won’t go into great detail here – I’ll list the main uses of this software below. However, if you really want to dig in on this, one of the better explanations is at jobscan.co.

An ATS system will many times strip out the photo and other graphics – it simply cannot process graphics. If so, then your resume may get automatically discarded. We don’t want that!

Basically, an Applicant Tracking System is used by Human Resources, Hiring Managers, and Recruiters who receive a ton of job applicants online. They need some short-cuts and organization. For big companies, it’s impossible for them to read each and every resume in a comprehensive way.

Some key points about the ATS:

  • Human Resources or Recruiters may personally scan your resume first
  • The full resume is then scanned and stored for possible future use
  • They also scan for keywords that are then stored in the “system”
  • These keywords are then used by the computer to match their job descriptions

Why is this important? Because you will be submitting some resumes online. Keywords are important. Bartender, bartending, customer service, food and beverage, cash register, food server, etc., are all keywords that should be on your resume.

Now, let’s get into the resume. Remember – you have no experience! You have to adjust your resume a bit to showcase your other experiences, life skills, and talents. It’s quite simple, actually, and I’m going to show you how.

Take a look at the below resume. You can also find this exact resume in the Resources Section – which you can download and use as a template. Remember that you can use any resume template that you like – just do yourself a favor and consider my recommendations! I’ll discuss the particulars below the resume.

A very good example of a resume:

resume example

Colors, Font, and Document File Types

Notice there are two colors only. And they’re dark. No photos, graphics, gaudy colors, or watermarks. Your name only at the very top. Use common fonts, as some screen readers will change your “unusual” font to a basic one and mess up your outline.

Save as a .docx (For example, a basic Word document), if possible, as it is most compatible with an ATS system. A PDF is fine if that’s what they require.

One Page Only!

I cannot stress this enough. Keep your resume to one page – no exceptions! How many pages? ONE!


Short and to the point. Notice I added Bartender School attendance. Don’t listen to the naysayers – always list this! On the above resume example, notice that I used the keywords “Bartender” and “Customer Service” in this section for the possible Applicant Tracking Systems that we discussed earlier. If you are an experienced bartender – DO NOT list bartending school!

Contact Information

A must-have. Simple and short. Make sure to list three different ways to contact you – with the phone number always on top.

Activities and Interests

This is more important than one would think. Are you into anything unusual? Then list it! Keep it clean – nothing illegal or questionable activities, of course.

Important: I go into more detail about the importance of the activities section in the “Job Interview” section. Basically, you want to stand out from the other applicants, and discussing one of your unusual activities or hobbies during the interview sets you apart from the crowd. We want the interviewer to remember you!

List only about four hobbies or interests in this section. I know that I listed six in my example resume, but I wanted to add in a few unusual or rare activities to get you thinking about your own possible interests.

An additional word about your hobbies. I’ll never suggest to you that lying on a resume is OK. It’s not. Why would you want to start out your new employer/employee relationship with a lie? However, I do have a tip when it comes to “Activities and Interests.”

What hobbies have you been thinking about taking up lately? Now’s your chance! Are they unusual? Think of a really rare or unusual hobby or interest that you may have – and start doing it! List it on your resume – and be honest.

As I mentioned before, we want the interviewer to remember you. Having a very unusual or “cool” hobby will stick out in the interviewer’s mind. “There’s a couple of really good applicants here, and it’s a tough decision – but I kind of liked that young lady who raises Alpacas!” You get the picture.

Work Experience

It does not have to be chronological! In fact, that can hurt you. Since you have no bartending experience, list anything with “Customer Service” or handling money at the top. This is absolutely crucial. Why? Let me explain.

Note: If you have ANY experience in a restaurant or bar – make sure to list that first or second!

Most interviewers, Human Resources employees, Bar Managers, etc., will read only the first one or two job entries. That’s it. If you’ve been around for a while and you list six previous jobs with the “customer service” job at the end – you’re sunk.

Note: If you are currently employed, then don’t be afraid to list that job in second place – unless it involves customer service or being responsible for handling money. Then, be sure to list it at the top.

Yes, if they’re looking for bartenders (and will hire only experienced), then it won’t really matter. Your resume is going to get tossed.


Again, short and sweet. You’re not applying for a job that requires any sort of higher education. Notice I added Bartending School to this section of the resume – and you should too. If you have no education other than a High School Diploma – then list it along with any other types of education, training, or certificates that you may have.

Note: If you have an Associate or Bachelor’s degree (or higher), then simply list that. There is no need to add any lower level education. The only exception here is to maybe add some sort of training or certificate in something that relates to customer service, training, or the Food & Beverage Industry.

Don’t go overboard here. Just list a couple of things – keep the resume to one page. Interviewers are not all that interested in your education; however, if you have some sort of really weird training in whatever field – list it!

Skills and Characteristics

Very important. Notice that all of the skills I listed are tailored to the Food and Beverage Industry. Good stuff, and you’ll also notice that these are “Soft Skills” that we discussed previously in Section 4 of the course – “Bartender Soft Skills.”

You want the interviewer to stay focused on any skills that a bar and restaurant is looking for. The Skills and Characteristics section of the resume reinforces the skills that you described under the work experience section of the resume. Good stuff.

Resume Conclusion

There you have it – a winning resume that will help you land your first bartending job. Now, let’s look at the cover letter.

The Cover Letter

Now it’s time to take a look at your cover letter. Cover letters will not always be required – but it’s good to have one anyway. A couple more things about cover letters:

  • Always carry them with you – plenty of them in your vehicle along with your resumes
  • Make sure the proper establishment (and name of manager, if you have it), is listed below your heading
  • For general cover letters, simply replace the establishment and name with “Dear Sirs,”
  • You need a couple of different types of cover letters – online and in person

As we did with the resume, take a look at the first cover letter below. There is an additional example that follows. There are also copies in the Resources Section which you can download and tweak. I’ll fill you in on each cover letter below the letter

A Great Cover Letter Example:

cover letter

For the first cover letter, above, notice that I have inserted the name of the bar as well as the name of the general manager. If you do not know the name of the GM or Bar Manager (which is what usually happens), then just leave it blank and address it “To whom it may concern.” Or, “Dear Sirs.”

Note: If you are submitting this online, then simply replace the “Marcia Sanderson, General Manager” with “Human Resources.” Or, whatever the online resume submission rules are for that particular company.

In the first paragraph, try to use pretty much the same wording that I have. Of course, you would tailor it to your experience. Two – four lines should be enough.

The second paragraph is probably going to determine if you get an interview. Use similar wording, and don’t be afraid to mention Bartending School.

Notice, in the third paragraph, that I mention customer service and handling money. PLEASE – If you have customer service experience in any job or have handled money – make mention of it!

In the fourth paragraph, bullet points are great – they kind of divide up the cover letter and draw attention to them. Notice also that I am pointing out “Soft Skills” that restaurants and bars are looking for.

Check out the fifth paragraph. Nice, huh? We’re actually going to lead with that in the next cover letter example.

In the sixth paragraph, notice the “Call to Action.” It’s simply reminding them that you are available at any time. Avoid saying something like, ” I am available Monday – Thursdays 9:00 to 3:00 pm.” Yuck.

The seventh paragraph is a simple and professional thank you. Easy.

Let’s take a look at the second cover letter:

another cover letter

There is just one difference here. Notice the very first paragraph. This is an attention getter – and I like it. You see, many hiring managers simply look at the first one or two paragraphs – or forego the cover letter altogether. This one opens their eye and WILL compel them to read further. Nice!

Personally, I would go with the second cover letter. It would certainly get my attention.

I know that we covered a lot in this section, but resumes and cover letters are extremely important. Most of your fellow job applicants are going to simply throw something together and hope they’ll get by. And, I bet they include a head shot!

If you’re following along in the Basic Bartending Course:

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