How To Get A Bartending Job
You know you'd make a great bartender. You've got a sparkling personality, have over two hundred drinks memorized, and you can juggle six shot glasses at a time! The bars are going to be fighting over you!
Wrong. Without experience you're nothing in the eyes of the bartending industry. Fancy bartending schools, great people skills, and even serving experience probably won't get you a real bartending job.
Bartending is a truly fantastic gig. You can sleep in every day, work in a party atmosphere, and you get paid to chat with attractive people all day long. This is a really fun working environment. And with great working environments comes extreme competition to work there.
It can be hard sometimes for bartenders with years of experience to land a good job. Many of the most popular bars and clubs actually have waiting lists for interviews. Yes the competition really can be that tough.
If you're determined, there are several paths you can take which will lead to a career in bartending. The best way to get your foot in the door is to know someone already working at a bar. This is the best and easiest way to get started in bartending.
If you don't have any friends in the bartending industry, then you can try a bartending school. These cost money, but you will gain some solid experience mixing lots of colored water. Some schools offer decent job placement programs which can help you get started in the industry.
If you choose to go this rout consider that only listing a "bartending school" on your resume won't go very far. You'll need to compliment it with experience, that is unless the school has one heck of a job placement program. In my experience bartending schools tend to lead to a job in the catering industry which isn't a bad start. You'll be mixing drinks at weddings and corporate parties which will give you solid bartending experience and help pad your resume.
On of the best and most proven methods of getting a bartending job is to start out as a "barback." A barback helps keep the bar clean, fetches ice, beer bottles, and anything else the bartenders might need. You can get a job as a barback right off the bat with no experience.
Work hard, show enthusiasm, and learn as much as you possibly can when behind the counter. Offer to help the bartender mix basic drinks if he's got his hands full. With perseverance, the other bartenders and management will notice your potential and give you a shot when someone calls in sick or quits.
Getting into the industry through paying your dues barbacking is the traditional way. Think of a barback as a bartender's apprentice. It's kind of a lousy job, but it can lead to a great future. When you are given your shot, make sure you knock their socks off! Be prepared to work the worst hours and the most undesirable shifts when beginning. You'll have to earn your way up to the best paying shifts.
Another way to move into the industry is to get a job as a server. Get a job at a large chain restaurant like Claim Jumper. Once hired, make it clear to management that you'd love to get a shot at working behind the bar eventually. Get the staff and managers to like you so that when the next bartender walks, you'll be signed up for the next training class. The great thing about starting this way is that many of the large restaurants teach their own bartending classes.
One final way that I've heard people recommend is to lie your way in. They suggest that you fabricate a resume and make it sound like you're a master bartender. Don't do that! Starting a new career based on a history of deceit is just not honorable. And you'll likely be found out during your first shift.
Bartending at your cousin's Halloween party isn't even somewhat comparable to tending a crowded bar on a Saturday night. Keeping an eye on how much everyone is drinking while memorizing eleven drink orders on your way to close out three tabs can be challenging even for experienced bartenders. Add in some blaring music, dimmed lights, and people shouting at you, and you've got a recipe for disaster. If you're brain doesn't freeze up immediately, you will be overwhelmed by sensory overload.
We recommend that you either get experience as a server and move over to bartending when a position opens up, or that you gain experience as a barback first. With a bit of determination and grit, you will eventually land your first bartending gig. Where you take it from there is up to you.