A lot of job seekers think that the best job search strategy is to send out as many resumes as possible, fill out a large number of applications, and hope for the best. This approach will inevitably lead to the creation of a “one-size-fits-all” resume and, more often than not, will be unsuccessful. The reason for this is because your resume must be tailored to the position you’re applying for, so if you’re submitting the same resume to many different positions, odds are it won’t be a good fit for any of them. With this in mind, here are a few tips especially for line cooks on writing a resume for the culinary industry.
Before we begin reviewing the specific parts of a resume, it’s important to cover the three main strategies for resume writing: chronological, functional, and hybrid.
1) Chronological Format: Chronological resumes begin with a summary paragraph and core competencies section followed by the job seeker’s professional experience (listed in reverse-chronological order with detailed information for each position covering duties and achievements) and any other relevant sections such as education, affiliations, technical skills, community involvement, and publications/presentations.
2) Functional Format: This strategy contains a majority of the pieces of a chronological resume including beginning with a summary and core competencies section, but rather than going into detail about each previous position, the functional format includes a career highlights section that touts the person’s top achievements followed by a list of previous positions that only consists of employer name and location, job title, and dates of employment.
3) Hybrid Format: This is the “best of both worlds” and incorporates the most effective parts of the chronological and functional formats: a selected career highlights section as well as specifics for each of the candidate’s previous positions.
When discussing types of resume strategies, it’s important to note that the particular format you choose to employ depends upon your situation. The majority of job seekers are best served using a more traditional chronological format. However, if you are looking to make a significant career change, have gaps in your employment history, performed many of the same duties in each of your prior roles, or have held a number of short-term positions throughout your career, you may want to use the functional or hybrid strategy. No matter what format you decide to utilize, your resume must contain the following sections:
Title, Summary & Core Competencies Sections:
To grab the reader’s attention from the very beginning, a resume should include your career target as the title at the top of the document, immediately following your name and contact information (for instance: “Line Cook”). Following that should be a 3–5 sentence summary paragraph highlighting what you have to offer a potential employer. This includes the amount of experience you have in the kitchen, knowledge of specific types of cuisine, techniques, or cooking styles, relevant certifications, and soft skills such as staff leadership, training, or customer service abilities. For example:
Talented and quality-oriented Line Cook with 15+ years of experience in classical and contemporary cooking styles encompassing European and American cuisine. ServSafe certified with skills in high-volume production, casual, fine, and banquet dining, and catering for special events. Expertise in developing innovative recipes, monitoring inventory, providing exceptional customer service, and maintaining superior food quality, flavor, and presentation. Valued team member with track record of success training new employees and improving kitchen operations.
Following the summary paragraph, it is best to include a keyword, or core competencies, section. This part of the resume has a dual function. First, it can help your resume get past the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that many employers and recruiters use nowadays. Second, once the resume is put before a human being to review, the core competencies section presents an easy-to-absorb list of your skills and expertise. It’s important to note that you should not overload this area. Pick 10–15 key capabilities and format them in a way that the hiring manager examining your resume will be able to review them quickly. If you include too many skills or organize them in a way that is not attractive to the eye, this section may get past the ATS but it will not make it past the human reader. For instance, you could present your keyword list as follows:
Food Preparation & Presentation ■ Inventory Control ■ Safety & Sanitation
Cost Control ■ Customer Satisfaction ■ Quality Control / Assurance
Leadership & Teambuilding ■ Overhead Reduction ■ Knife Handling
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most important parts of your resume is the professional experience section. This is where you will prove to the reader that all of those skills and abilities mentioned in the summary paragraph and core competencies section are backed up by solid achievements from throughout your career. However, it’s critical to keep the reader in mind and make this part of the resume short and sweet (just like the other sections). The best way to organize each of your positions is as follows: 1) employer name and location, 2) job title (on a separate line), 3) dates of employment, 4) short paragraph discussing job duties and responsibilities, and 5) list of bulleted achievements. To give you a better idea of how this looks on the page:
ABC Casino | City, State 2008–2012
Planned and managed buffet and bar operations within 18K sq. ft. casino encompassing setup/cleanup, production, preparation, and inventory management. Assisted ABC Bar with stocking daily supplies, served as Garde Manger as needed, and cooked quality meals for guests.
As mentioned above, there are three different strategies for organizing a resume. The example shows the chronological format, so the structure would be different for a functional or hybrid resume. Please feel free to view more sample resumes for chefs on iHireChefs.com.
Education, Certifications & Training:
Rounding out the resume will be a section that covers your educational background and any other supplemental information such as certifications, additional training, affiliations, or (if applicable and relevant) community involvement. After you’ve spent the majority of your time creating your summary paragraph, listing your core competencies, and discussing your duties and achievements for your previous employers, this section should be nice and easy:
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
AOS in Culinary Arts, Culinary Academy, City, State
Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts, Culinary Academy, City, State
ServSafe Food Handler Certification