A chef’s resume has to contain all the ingredients of a standard resume, plus a few career-specific extras that demonstrate the qualifications needed to work in a restaurant.
To get a feel for the general steps used to write a resume, please read our article on how to write a resume and our general resume writing tips.
Now, let’s look over some specific items that a good chef’s resume should include:
1. Areas of specialization.
Including a few relevant, interesting areas of specialization in your executive summary can help you stand out from the crowd. An executive summary is a bite-sized synopsis of your most unique and marketable skills, which should be posted at the top of your resume. It is the modern replacement for the old-fashioned objective summary, which is gradually becoming obsolete.
According to the Chefs’ Professional Agency, here are some examples of specialized skills that would look good in an executive summary:
- Charcuterie production
- Management of on call staffs up to 200
- Ice carving
- Cake decorating
- Candy making
- High volume skills
What makes these good skill specializations to include on a chef’s resume is that they are currently in demand and many people do not have them. The Chefs’ Professional Agency warns that very common kitchen skills like safety awareness and menu writing should do not appear in the executive summary because they don’t help the applicant stand out.
Now, if you have relevant areas of specialization to mention, the Chefs’ Professional Agency recommends limiting your summary to between two and six bullet points. That’s because a long laundry list of qualifications can be boring to read.
If you want to mention more common and less marketable skills, the Chefs’ Professional Agency recommends listing them further down on your resume, as opposed to in the executive summary. For example, you can weave them in to the “Professional Experience” section by tying them in with your job accomplishments.
To stay up-to-date on which areas of specialization are in demand today, browse through Monster.com and Craigslist.org, look at job ads that target chefs and cooks, and take note of the skills requested by employers, with an emphasis on skills that are currently in vogue, such as sushi preparation. You should also look at ads posted on job search engines that are relevant to the food service industry.
2. Certification details (especially ServSafe).
Yep, we are going to keep pushing this piece of advice on our readers because it is really important. You should always include certifications on your resume that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.
A ServSafe certification is especially important for a chef’s resume. ServSafe is a food safety training certification program administered by the National Restaurant Association. Different ServSafe certifications cover topics like basic food safety, responsible alcohol service, and more.
While not all restaurants require that employees be ServSafe certified, this is commonly required for management staff, although this varies by region.
For example, in California, any worker “who is involved in the preparation, storage or service of food in a food facility has to have a valid food safety certificate.” That means that all restaurant employees that handle food need to have a valid California Food Handler Card.
So, start by reviewing regulatory requirements in the state in which you plan to work. If you don’t have the proper certification, obtaining it will give your job hunt a big boost.
If you already have applicable certifications, include the full names of the certifications you received, along with the month and year you received each one.
3. Types of cuisine served at previous restaurants.
In the best-case scenario, this will reflect your areas of specialization and match up with the position for which you are applying, which will help show your future employer that you are well-qualified.
If not, that’s OK, because showing you can handle different types of food can still work in your favor by demonstrating your adaptability.
Here are just a few types of cuisine that might show up on a chef’s resume:
- Classic French
- Organic vegan
- Asian fusion
- New World
- Casual West Coast
Now, if you’re not sure what the type of food you cooked at a certain restaurant would be called, the Chefs’ Professional Agency recommends looking up reviews for the establishment. This should help you come up with a simple but specific category.
And, unless you worked at a very well-known restaurant, don’t assume that everyone is already familiar with the type of food served there!
4. Detailed information about management and team roles.
Since the typical chef nearly always works in a team, this information can make or break a chef’s resume.
So, if you have previous supervisory experience, The Chefs’ Professional Agency recommends listing how large of a staff you managed in each position, which types of kitchen staff were on your team, how many cooks were in the kitchen, how many departments you oversaw, and similar types of details. If you supervised others as part of a volunteer position, you can also indicate that.
However, be sure to emphasize team accomplishments, when applicable, to show that you are still a team player.
On a related note, Restaurant Management Careers, Inc., the biggest provider of restaurant-only recruiting events in the U.S, warns that it is not a good idea to mention wanting to open your own restaurant on your resume or cover letter.
This could give employers the idea that you are not really a team player and are planning to ditch them as soon as you’ve learned enough. According to Restaurant Management Careers, Inc., the typical national full-service restaurant chain has to spend $20,000 to $35,000 to recruit, train, and develop the skills of each manager they hire, just to get that person to the point where they’re considered fully productive. That’s too big of an investment to risk on someone who’s not planning to stick with them!
That’s why employers want to see evidence of both leadership capabilities and teamwork skills on a chef’s resume.
In short, think about what an employer would want to see on a chef’s resume…
Remember to always keep your audience in mind when writing your resume, your cover letter, or any other type of business correspondence.
After reading the next ad in your job search, take a few moments to picture what the ideal chef for that position would be like. Then, try to craft your resume to show what you have in common with that ideal chef.
Yes, writing a resume can be stressful, but if you can handle a frantic kitchen environment, you can handle anything!