Resume Writing Tips for Sous Chefs
Tips on how to write an effective resume
Experienced and accomplished culinarians aren’t necessarily experienced and accomplished writers, so it isn’t uncommon for a chef to become overwhelmed when tasked with writing his or her resume. As a sous chef, you’ve paid your dues and progressed in your culinary career to a leadership role. Therefore, you need a resume that accurately and strategically reflects what you have to offer.
Whether you are targeting another sous chef position or have your eye on the next rung in the ladder, a strong resume is critical to job search success. By learning and employing the methods outlined in this article, you’ll be equipped with the necessary tools to create an interview-winning document.
Before we begin reviewing the specific parts of a resume, we must first cover the three main strategies for resume writing: chronological, functional, and hybrid.
- 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.
- 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 incorporates 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.
- Hybrid Format: This is the “best of both worlds” and combines 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 the different types of resume strategies, it’s important to note that the particular format you choose to employ depends entirely upon your unique situation. The more traditional chronological format is the best option for the majority of job seekers; however, if you are changing careers, have significant 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 needs to contain the following sections:
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Title, Summary & Core Competencies Sections
Simply put, the purpose of the title, summary, and core competencies sections is to grab the reader’s attention as soon as possible and inspire them to continue reading the rest of the resume. This area of the document is “prime real estate,” and must be used to your advantage. Include your career target as the resume’s title (for instance: “Sous Chef”), immediately after your name and contact information. Next, you should create a hard-hitting and concise 3–5 sentence summary paragraph that touts your skills and highlights the amount of experience you have to offer a potential employer. For example:
Results-driven Sous Chef with 10+ years of experience in classical and contemporary cooking styles and talents in high-volume production, casual, fine, and banquet dining, and catering for special events. Track record of success turning around struggling operations with demonstrated skills in strategic planning, cost analysis, and purchasing/procurement. Respected supervisor with proven abilities in motivating employees to improve customer service, productivity, efficiency, and quality. Working knowledge of Spanish.
Following the summary paragraph, there should be a strong keyword, or core competencies, section. This is a critical area on any resume because it serves more than one purpose. First, it helps to round out the skills mentioned in the summary paragraph and provides the reader with a snapshot of your areas of expertise. Second, it will help your resume get past the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that many employers and recruiters use nowadays.
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 satisfy the ATS but it will not impress the human reader. For instance, you could present your keyword list as follows:
Food Preparation & Presentation Inventory Control Menu Development Scheduling
Kitchen Management Safety & Sanitation Food & Labor Cost Control Customer Satisfaction
Quality Control/Assurance (QC/QA) Leadership & Teambuilding Event Planning
It goes without saying that a well-written professional experience section is vital to making it past the resume review stage and being called in for interviews. This section is the real meat of the resume and it’s where your career history (and your writing skills) needs to shine. All of those skills and abilities mentioned in the summary paragraph and core competencies section must be backed up by detailed examples and achievements in your professional experience section.
However, it’s essential that you 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 & Resort | Baltimore, MD 2011–Present
Selected by Executive Chef to elevate standards and performance of culinary operations within local casino with 400K visitors per year. Orchestrate food preparation for 5 outlets including buffet with 3K covers per day. Develop and execute menus, provide personnel training, and control cost of sales (COS) in partnership with purchasing department. Guide and mentor team of 18 chefs creating wide-ranging dishes encompassing American, Asian, and Mexican cuisines.
- Played critical role in boosting F&B revenue 60% over 2010, contributing to remodel of buffet and 40% expansion in items as well as renovation of fine dining steakhouse that added private dining room for 15; additionally incorporated monthly 5-course wine/alcohol pairing menus in private dining room with varying themes.
- Enhanced quality and catapulted ratings on Yelp and Opentable from 1 star to 4 stars.
- Achieved AAA 4-Diamond award in 2014.
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 www.iHireChefs.com.
Education, Certifications, Training & Other Supplemental Sections
Your resume would be incomplete without a supplemental section covering your educational background along with other applicable information such as certifications, additional training, affiliations, computer skills, and/or community involvement (if relevant). Construct this section to present these uncomplicated (but vital) details in a straightforward manner:
Education, Certification & Computer Skills
Certificate of Basic Culinary Skills, ABC Institute, Baltimore, MD
Certified Food Service Manager, Baltimore County, Maryland
ADP eTIME, Agilysys, Infinium, HRLogix, MS Office Suite
March 06, 2015
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