When you’re updating your resume — or worse, starting one from scratch — that page on your screen can look all too blank, and the blinking cursor can feel nothing short of menacing. Pipe down, blinking cursor (and maybe pour us a glass of wine while you’re at it)! This task is hard enough without your bad attitude. While this kind of work is stressful under the best of circumstances, we’re here to give you some good news that should make your life a lot easier next time you decide to attack it. That empty space is going to get filled faster than you think: You’ve picked up plenty of skills in your part-time retail and restaurant gigs that can be effectively marketed and applied in whatever industry you’ve found your dream job.
Whether you bused tables in high school, paid your way through college as the assistant manager at a trendy boutique, or just really love working in the restaurant biz, you’ve racked up tons of important experience that you may not have even thought to add to your resume. According to Patrice Rice, founder of the hospitality recruiting group Patrice & Associates, a lot of folks sell themselves short when it comes time to extend their job search. “Many people view a restaurant or retail job simply as a temporary bridge to a full-time career in another field,” she explains, but that’s not so! The time you’ve spent on the job in these industries is valuable, and you can make it work harder for you in the long run by being strategic in the way you present it to potential future employers in your resume. Here are six specific skills you’ve picked up working in the restaurant or retail world that Rice says you can — and should — market in pursuit of your dream career.
1. Customer Service: “Among other skills, you learn how to be polite, deal with the public, and handle all types of people (from friendly to ferocious),” Rice tells us. “These skills will help advance a career in any field.” True!
2. Prioritization: If you’ve spent any time working in a store or restaurant, you know better than most how to manage a long list of must-dos that seems to constantly be changing — and you probably know how to juggle them when they’re unexpected and coming at you at lightning speed too! That ability to anticipate needs, react quickly, and know what’s really most important at any given time will serve you well just about anywhere. “All businesses are driven by the bottom line,” observes Rice, “and understanding the activities that quickly affect the bottom line is a basic lesson that will carry on to careers in other industries.”
3. Teamwork: If teamwork really does make the dream work, then retail and restaurant experience might just be what dreams are made of. Don’t underestimate all the ways in which those part-time gigs have taught you how to play nicely (and professionally!) with others.
4. Selling a Concept: Even if you weren’t officially working in a fancy-sounding sales capacity at the time, we both know that you built some pretty impressive selling muscles in your job as a restaurant server or retail associate. You’d better be selling those skills on your resume, no matter what your long-range career goals are. Strong communication and persuasive abilities, Rice reminds us, are important in any field.
5. Good Work Ethic: Some may argue that you can’t teach someone a good work ethic, insisting instead that it’s a fundamental personality trait, and either you’ve got it or you don’t. Tell that to someone who’s worked in a store or restaurant! In these fast-paced environments, there’s minimal tolerance for lateness, laziness, and bad attitudes. Getting your feet wet in the working world with that kind of intense discipline is a major benefit in all future endeavors.
6. Working With Difficult People: “In restaurant and retail [as in all jobs], you have to learn how to work with people that you don’t like,” Rice says. “As a result, you develop skills such as learning how to focus on what you can control, not taking a negative attitude personally, and maintaining a positive attitude. Such skills transfer to any job and can set an employee up for success at work.” Wouldn’t life in any office be so much easier if everyone had more practice communicating and collaborating with people who aren’t destined to be their work BFFs?
What other skills can you put to work in a long-term career? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)