Find a job at a restaurant or bar in New York City

How to Find a job at a restaurant or bar in New York City

In New York City, there are two ways that you can find a job quickly.  You can either get a job through a staffing agency or you can find a job at a restaurant or bar, working as a server, bartender, busboy or cocktail waitress.

If you’re a performer, artist or just someone who wants to keep your days open and your schedule flexible, then working in a restaurant is probably your best route.

This is also the best way to earn as much money in an as little amount of time as possible without an advanced degree or any sort of special skill. Servers, cocktail waitresses and bartenders can make anywhere from $150 to $600+ a night.

While in other parts of the country, finding a job in a restaurant is incredibly easy, in New York City, competition in the food and beverage industry is thick.

Many people working in restaurants aren’t just bartenders working their way through school, but career bartenders with 5-6 years in the industry. So in order to find your place in this competitive field, you will need to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Even if you’re applying for a lowly busboy position, you will need to put together a professional resume to highlight your skills and showcase your personality.

Your professional resume should consist of the following:

  1. A title – Put your name, current address, phone number and email address on the top of the page.
  2. A photo – If you’re applying for a server or a bartender position, this is the most important part of your resume. It should be a clear headshot of you smiling. Don’t dress too flashy or in clothing that’s too revealing. The photo will also help the interviewer remember you when comparing to the 100 other people who applied for the same job.
  3. A summary – It should grab the reader’s attention and spell out exactly what you can offer their business.
  4. Experience – Here you should list out any similar experience that you have in the industry, the types of places you worked, the dates and what you did.
  5. Education – List any education you have as well as certifications, training, etc.

Below is an outline for a basic hospitality resume:

Your Name
Your Address
Your Phone Number/Email Address


5+ years experience in the food and hospitality services.
Previous roles include: server, cocktail waitress, host, bartender and promoter.
Friendly and outgoing personality and polished appearance.


Advanced Spanish (reading, writing and speaking).
Strong knowledge of wines and spirits.
Experience with various Point of Sale (POS) systems.
Skilled in conflict resolution, up-selling and venue promotion.


Papaya Bar, Quito, Ecuador, Bartender/Promoter
Located in the main tourist district in Quito, Ecuador, Papaya Bar is a bar/nightclub that caters mainly to European and American cliental.

The Golden Pheasant, Rochester, New York, Waitress
An upscale hotel, special event venue, restaurant and tavern located in upstate New York.

Syracuse Country Club, Syracuse, New York, Waitress
A full service bar and restaurant located on a private 18-hole championship golf course.

Lucky Tuesday, Syracuse, New York, Waitress
A popular “American-style” chain restaurant specializing in steaks, salads and burgers.


B.A. in Psychology (2010)
The State University of New York
* Presidential Scholar
ZYX Bartending Center
* References Available Upon Request

Note: Most restaurants don’t bother checking references or past employment and many bartending schools go as far as to recommend faking experience as a way to get in the door. Of course, I would never condone this behavior but I’ll say that finding a job in the food and beverage industry is more about personality than anything else. Restaurant skills can be taught – charisma can’t. This applies to many other jobs as well.

With your own resume, you should add dates as well as tasks you performed or the skills you learned at the position that goes above and beyond what your job description would generally entail.

Finding a job in a restaurant is pretty easy. For most establishments, you can just walk in, ask to speak to the owner or manager and hand them your resume. Remember to dress well and exude confidence.

Craigslist is also a great resource for positions in hospitality. Go to and under jobs and food/beverage/hospitality, search for positions that you would be interested in. Once you find a suitable position, copy and paste your resume into the body of an email (including your picture) and forward it to whoever posted the ad.

Note: Getting a job in New York is strictly a numbers game. When applying for multiple jobs online, prepare one email and BCC it to numerous recipients. This allows you to apply to numerous jobs in the time it would otherwise take you to apply to one.

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