When Your Resume Reads “Server”

I’ve been back in Vancouver for about a month, and after enjoying the last few weeks of summer, the time has come…

It’s time to get a job.

Finding a full-time job is essentially having a full-time job. From the job searches to the resume re-dos, the thought put into cover letters, and the added bonus of social media profiles. Finding a job is a lot of work, especially when you are determined to get the job you want.



I realized recently that I haven’t been doing any blog posts that focus on the “What” aspect of Wander Before What, which I explain here. The “What” is an integral part of why I started this blog in the first place, and seeing as I’m starting a new chapter of my life I thought it was a great time to start discussing my “What” more.

As I apply to career-oriented jobs, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that my last job reads “Server”.

It’s not that I am ashamed of this, not in the least. I have nothing but respect for anyone making a living within the service industry, contrary to popular belief, it is NOT an easy job.

What bothers me twofold:

  1. Thinking that potential employers will see that last job title and stop cold, not bothering to review the rest of my resume and/or my cover letter.
  2. They didn’t take a moment to think about the skill-set needed to be a “Server” and reflect on how the lessons learned are applicable to the position to which I applied.

Therefore, in homage to my time in the service industry as I embark on a new career path…

Here are three lessons the service industry taught me:

How to Thrive Under Pressure

Work-related pressure is something that everyone can relate to. The pressure to perform, meet deadlines, fit in with co-workers and satisfy customers are just some of the pressure related situations one can find themselves in at the workplace. Learning how to not only deal, but thrive under pressure, is something being a server taught me.

When you’re a server on a sunny summer day, on a high-occupancy patio starting to fill up with 30+ people sitting down in your section, all wanting to order in unison because they only have a short lunch… then your co-worker calls in sick. That’s pressure.

A server’s ability to thrive under pressure can assist them when times get tough in other areas of life, and is a skill that transfers to many jobs outside of the industry. To be in a customer facing position and have the ability to greet each guest with a smile and offer good service when you are being pushed, pulled, and torn in a thousand different directions, is a skill that every server should be proud of.

How to Read People & Anticipate Needs

When I first started in the service industry, I was told to “treat every guest the same”. I quickly learned that if you wanted to be successful in the service industry, you need to throw that statement right out the window.

People are inherently different and the way people want to be served is different. Having the ability to hone into a table of people and know immediately the type of experience they are looking for is a lesson in reading people, one of the most important skills you can have in your interpersonal life.

Being able to adapt, read people, and anticipate the desire of customers is a skill the service industry taught me. One that has greatly helped me moving forward with my professional career.

How to Sell

People sometimes forget that servers are essentially less-glorified salesmen (even though I’m not sure how glorious it is to be an actually salesman).

We are constantly selling. First, we are selling ourselves through great service in attempt to get that hefty tip. Then we are selling food and drinks (“would you like a single or a double rum and coke?”), and often times we are selling an entire experience (“it’s your first time dining with us? Let me tell you a little about our menu”).

No matter what profession you are looking into after your tenure as a server, the lessons you learn will always be useful. Whether it’s using your interpersonal skills in an interview, selling an idea of yours in a meeting, or recognizing instantly how to help someone in a difficult situation – it comes down to building relationships. Isn’t that what the service industry is truly about?!

Sometime servers are hard on themselves, but the skills you have learned can take you far… if you let them.

Have you transitioned out of the service industry? What lessons did being a server teach you?




  1. Jody
    October 1, 2015 / 6:39 am

    This one resonated with me Sarah!

    • wanderbeforewhat
      October 2, 2015 / 7:24 am

      Thanks Jody!

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