Bar work, to some people, is not considered to provide a lot of transferable career skills. The truth is, bar work teaches you more transferable career skills than any other profession and can land you a job outside bartending easily (if you need a change of scenery). Never underestimate your previous experience in unrelated industries when looking for new challenges. With a little bit of detective and legwork, you can combine the skills you’ve mastered to the in-demand skills in your desired industry.
Let’s take a closer look at five transferable career skills that you’ll learn from bartending (and keep in mind there are much more!):
When a person enters a bar, what is the first thing they do? Besides scoping out the local talent and looking for a free table, they head straight for the bar. As a bartender, you are the first point of contact. Bar work demands that you are always switched on, you have to be prepared to deal with anything that comes your way. You have to be assertive when dealing with difficult customers, if somebody has had one too many you have to have the confidence to ask them to leave and show them you mean it. On a daily basis, you’ll need to speak up in front of crowds of more than 50 (sometimes boisterous) individuals. All of this requires confidence in yourself and in your work, it is one of the most important career skills out there.
You’re willing to work long hours at the drop of a hat, at the weekends, and deal with situations that are more at home in a comedy TV show. This all demonstrates your dedication. Despite the fact that drinks may spill, glasses may smash, and drunk people might hit on you, you push through it all because deep-down you can’t get enough of the industry and everything that comes with it.
Flexibility works both ways in the bartending industry. Some days you’ll start work at 3 p.m., this gives you time to have a well-deserved sleep in, hit the gym and go shopping all before you start work. Then again, there will be times when someone will call in sick at the last minute, and you’ve got to miss out on Big Dave’s birthday bash and head into the bar. Bar work gives a whole new meaning to the word flexibility. You must have good time management skills and the ability to serve multiple customers at the same time, just like an octopus with a Casio on.
There’s a reason why bartenders are often called the therapists of the hospitality world. It’s one of the most social professions in the world; therefore, communication is key. Talking to people from different backgrounds on a daily basis teaches you how to approach people. Bar work will make you 20 times more confident than you were before the job. You’ll learn how and when to talk, and most importantly when to take a step back and just listen. A great bartender has the ability to connect with their customers instantly.
More importantly, working in hospitality you’ll need to communicate with your colleagues under pressure, which teaches you to skip to the basics and communicate to get things done. Part of great communication is planning, and as a bartender, you’ll need to plan with your colleagues each and every night. Are there any pre-booked tables, special service needed, shortage of anything, a hand over that needs to be delivered when you shift ends and your colleague takes over. All of this makes you a great communicator because you learn to pay attention to detail. Trust us, the first (and only) time you give an insufficient handover to a colleague, you’ll know the next day, and be warned; you’ll most likely never repeat this mistake (best avoid this, to begin with). In bartending great communication is everything.
5. Working under pressure
“A round of shots, 3 Long Island Iced Teas, 4 Mojitos, a “surprise me” cocktail, oh and I had this drink that had strawberries in it, it tasted like sweets, you know the one…!” As a bartender, you must be prepared for anything and everything. Bar work requires you to remember extensive recipes for a massive number of cocktails, sometimes over 100! And, it’s not unusual for you to serve over 20 customers in the space of five minutes.
You’ve got to be quick on your feet, have good memory recall, and hand-eye coordination. Working under pressure can be applied to many different roles outside of the hospitality industry. Being able to work to deadlines under difficult conditions is something every employer looks for in a candidate.
Match made in heaven
So there you have it, five transferable career skills that bar work teaches you. Learning how to apply these skills to your CV, can move you through the pile of applicants a lot quicker. Transferable skills can both be soft and hard skills. The above is mainly soft skills, however, there is also daily cash handling, managing inventory to save the company money, overseeing customer experience... we could go on! The most important thing to keep in mind is that you match your transferable skills with the desired skills needed within the field you are applying to.
Updated by Sofia - February 2018