You’ve got your CV all finished and shiny. You’ve put on your best clothes and you’re ready to start handing out those bartending CVs like no-one has done before. But wait, what is it that employers look for in a new bartender? Because it’s not just the words: “I can bartend”, and what if you’re looking for a bartending job without experience?

The average time an employer will look at a CV is five to seven seconds, this means there needs to be more to you than what your bartending CV says. It’s the foundation block for your employability, but just because the foundation is strong it doesn’t mean the rest of the building is safe.

A positive attitude and a touch of charisma goes a long way

Your attitude is the first thing that employers notice about you, so make sure it’s a good one. Be polite, be courteous and be friendly. Remember there’s a high possibility this is the first time you’re interacting with your potential new employer; they are witnessing how you deal with people at first hand – when asked what they thought their employees could improve most about themselves, 61% of employers said it was their customer handling skills* – so don’t blow your chance at that good first impression.

“I’m Not the Most Outgoing Person in the World, but I am a Good Bartender”

You don’t need to be swinging from the rafters when you enter the room or jump across the bar in order to demonstrate that your personality is amazing. Even a simple “Hey, how are you this evening? Have you been up to much?” is a great way to interact with your customers without the need to bring out the “big guns”. Your interpersonal skills will get better over time as you progress through your bartending job, most employers can see potential and everyone appreciates effort.

hand shaking interview

Show that you care

With a general bartending CV it can hard to specifically talk about any venue. This is why you need to show that you care about your future home in person, most notably in your interview. An employer doesn’t want to hear about how incredible and amazing you think you are, they want to know what you think about their bar. Talk about how much you love the place. If you’ve been before, talk about the times you’ve been in. If you haven’t been in, go in before the day of your interview so you have a reference point. Maybe you’ve had incredible drinks there? Let them know. Showing you have a passion for the bar you want to work in is like music to the ears of employers.

Be a team player

40% of bar employers feel that their employees lack teamwork*, so exhibiting that you can work well as part of a team is vital. A bar team can become a family. You’re spending a lot of your time working with the same people in a very close environment. Talk about times when you’ve worked well as part of a team, talk about how much you enjoy being part of a team – when you’re on a bar and it’s four, five, six people deep… they’re the only people who’ll help you out.

Experience helps… sometimes

Of course, having experience on your bartending CV is a great attribute to possess, but remember: everyone started somewhere and everyone was a rookie. There is no-one in the world that is born with two years bartending experience (even the late, great Dick Bradsell, the creator of the espresso martini, had to start somewhere). However, you’re probably not going to get a job at the American Bar at the Savoy in London or at The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York without experience.

If you have bartending knowledge before your first job, e.g graduating from European Bartender School, then you are already a step ahead of the rest. Apply this with your wealth of charisma and high-end attitude and you’re pushed to the top of the pile of prospective bartenders.  

Don’t be afraid to follow up

You should never be ashamed to follow up on a bartending job. Perhaps an employer is sat in front of your bartending CV and someone else’s CV and they just cannot make up their mind about who to hire. Calling up and enquiring about whether or not you’re still in the running for a job could be the push that they need. It shows you have drive and are not afraid to go the extra mile. If you’re great at promoting yourself you’ll be fantastic at promoting specials or up-selling spirits, and that is a great skill to have for a bartender.

Never let a job rejection set you back

Keep going until someone hires you, it might be that they were looking for someone with a wealth of experience that you couldn’t compete with, or they were bought dinner and had flowers sent to them by the other candidates. No matter the reason never give up because the next bar could be the bar that says yes, and never be too proud to start out in a bartending job that you might not consider to be “good”. Everyone starts somewhere.

*All statistics from