In any industry it can be tough to get that dream job - even more so in a profession as competitive as the culinary world. However, it’s not impossible to end up exactly where you want to be – there are plenty of examples of people who have made it. So how do you get there too?
- Stay positive
Replace a negative attitude with a positive one. Notice when you’re using vague or negative words to refer to yourself and your goals, and use positive language instead. For example, stop saying ‘if I get my dream job’ and say ‘when.’
- Know what you want
It’s impossible to get where you’re going if you don’t know where that is. What is your dream job? Define it in your own mind, from the working conditions to your colleagues, location and benefits.
- Greet interviewers - and everyone else - positively
You probably already know the importance of greeting your interviewer(s) warmly, with a smile and a handshake, maintaining eye contact to portray a confident and calm demeanour.However, when entering a business for the first time you should be greeting every member of staff you come into contact with like this. After all, if you’re rude or impolite to anyone they might relay that back to the people who are actually making the decision.
- Research the company
Almost 50% of hiring managers have eliminated candidates because they haven’t been able to demonstrate knowledge of the company they’re applying for. Your interviewer is bound to ask about what you know of them, so take the time to find out as much as you can about their history, values and menu.
- Research your interviewers
Try and find out who is going to be interviewing you and research them as well. Cultural fit is a big factor in hiring decisions, so it’s good to have an idea of how well you’ll relate and get on with the kitchen team you’ll be joining.
- Take along two extra copies of your CV
Your interviewers will refer back to your CV throughout an interview to inform their questions, but don’t rely on them to have printed enough copies. You could argue that it’s their responsibility to do so, but it will make you look well prepared if you can offer the second or third interviewer a copy to look at.
- What are your deal breakers?
Make a list of the specific elements that your dream job simply must have and then don’t deviate from that as you progress. It’s fine to revise these criteria if they change, and it’s normal to compromise on the less important elements, but make sure your deal breakers remain solid.
- What’s your Unique Selling Point?
This is what will differentiate you from the next chef. What makes you stand out? Notice these small details and work them to your advantage, use your unique strong -points to help you get to where you want to be.
- Balance your confidence
It’s tough to survive in the culinary world if you’re not confident but, equally, if you’re overflowing with confidence then you may come across as arrogant and that can be just as bad. Find a strength and confidence that shows in everything from the way you speak to how you stand and, most importantly, - be sincere.
- Maintain your CV up to date
Make sure it is up to date so that it shows your most recent skills and experience. Ensure that the CV is professional, concise and clear – use precise, culinary language so anyone reading it immediately understands what you can do.
There’s no end to the potential benefits of interning, from gaining skills and experience to making valuable connections. Short-term or long-term, a quality internship will work wonders for your career. Even if you’re an experienced chef, an internship in an aspirational environment can work wonders for your career.
- Plan your approach
If your dream job isn’t right on the horizon then plan how you’re going to get there. Look at each step that will take you from here to there and then methodically work through them.
- Go for quality over quantity
When it comes to your CV, quality wins every time. Don’t worry about including every single job you’ve ever had, but rather thoroughly detail your responsibilities and experiences from the last five years.
- Broaden your skill set
Getting your dream job will no doubt require more than just a talent in the kitchen. Language skills, business skills and leadership abilities are all important too.
- Attend industry-leading events.
Make connections, learn or even present and speak yourself.
Professional networking has so many uses, from lining up a new job, to staying ahead of industry news. Take every opportunity to network, from attending events to being active on social media.
- Be active
Participate in the conversation.There are so many ways to do this, and online is a great example; maintain your LinkedIn profile, write a professional blog, or even consider setting up a professional website.
- Consider your willingness to move
Sometimes your ideal job may not be just a few miles from where you are now – it may not even be in the same country. Are you willing to move to get that dream job? Have you considered looking in jobs markets abroad to find it?
- Dream job not hiring?
Apply anyway If you know which restaurant you want to be working at, don’t let the fact that they’re not hiring put you off from applying anyway. Sell yourself well enough and they might decide they want to take this opportunity to snap up someone who has demonstrated real enthusiasm for the business. Even if they don’t hire you straight away, if they’re impressed with you they might consider your application once they are recruiting.
- Set aside time
You’ll never secure that dream role if you don’t commit a significant amount of time to your job hunt. Set aside a certain amount of time each week and set yourself deadlines for certain stages of your search, for example updating your CV by this date, applying for five positions each week, etc.
- Prepare questions for interview
Many people simply forget to do this as the focus is often on answering the interviewer’s questions without making a mistake. However, insightful questions asked at the end of an interview can set you apart from other candidates who didn’t have much to say.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
Going for an interview at a 5-star restaurant? Make sure you’re looking your very best and turned out appropriately for that venue. Applying for a role at an independent, Bohemian eatery? Perhaps consider more casual attire. Before your interview, check out the place yourself as a customer (if you haven’t already) to get a feel for the vibe of the place.
- Do you have an elevator pitch?
This is a 60 second speech that should sum up everything anyone needs to know about you in a single bite sized chunk. Practice it when you’re on your own so that you know it off by heart. Your elevator pitch should sound natural, unforced and unrehearsed (just to make things extra difficult!) – so remember to practice sounding natural with it!
- Join a professional association
This is a great way to continue your networking and also to make sure that you’re up to date with all the latest industry news.
- Take note of your body language
During an interview, your body language can be just as important as what you say. Are you nodding enthusiastically or staring ahead with a glazed expression? Are you sitting alert and straight in your seat or are you slumped? Are you confidently meeting the interviewer’s gaze or nervously looking away?
- Be honest
Don’t lie about what you can do and don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer what you can’t. It’ll soon become apparent after you start that you don’t know as much as you claimed - and you won’t last long.
- Say thanks
After any interview, make sure you thank the interviewer for the time they’ve taken to speak with you. This not just polite but shows great customer relations too.