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Seeking jobs in hospitality with Richard Hands

Seeking jobs in hospitality with Richard Hands

How to get a job in hospitality

Richard Hands manages the Sir John’s Bar at Monash University in Clayton. He has over 20 years of experience in hospitality working in cafes, pubs, clubs, five-star hotels, high end restaurants, cocktail bars and private members bars.

He’s been trained by the world’s best, from master sommeliers, leading industry experts on spirits, beers and liqueurs, to renowned cocktail bartenders and Michelin starred chefs. Furthermore, he has developed his skills and knowledge through a variety of courses and programs within the industry.

Richard utilizes his expertise as a trainer for the Professional Waiting Skills, Bartending and Cocktails and Barista Essentials courses at MSA Training & Professional Development.

We spoke to him about his experience in the industry and to find out what his top tips are for those seeking a job in hospitality.

Could you tell me a bit about how you first started in the industry?

RH: I started about 21 years ago now. I started off at a very basic level, took a gap year between school and university, worked in pubs, and then a bistro which was part of a Michelin starred restaurant. Then I moved to London and decided not to go to university and work in pubs and restaurants. I’ve worked in London, Canada, and Australia as well in bars, pubs, clubs, cocktail bars, restaurants, private member’s bars—all sorts of places.

How did you build your way up from an entry level position?

RH: I built my way up by just taking the opportunities. The opportunity to move to London came about because the owners of the bar I first started at, moved to London and got involved in bars there. When I wanted to start developing my career, I went to some of the best cocktail bars in London and applied for jobs starting off as a barback. So, I worked my way up through training and self-betterment to get to head bartender stage and work in the best cocktail bar the world.

I also looked at different areas that I was lacking. I didn’t have any real experience in the restaurant side of things and I wanted that aspect of my hospitality training so I worked for a restaurant group. I also did external courses in things like management, leadership, time management and productivity. They are incredibly useful, when used in the right way.

How important is formal training when looking to apply for entry level positions?

RH: They’re not necessary but they are a very useful tool to give you a step up above another entry level applicant who has zero experience. If two people were applying for a job and one of them had done a few courses in that field, then I’d be more willing to give them a trial and see how they pan out because they’ve got fundamental understanding of the business.

I think it’s definitely a big help on the CV, because I’ve seen hundreds of CVs where they have zero applicable experience. Some employers appreciate that, because you can train them the way that you want them to be. Whereas some employers want you to have that previous experience, so they don’t have to do as much training.

What things do you look for in resumes and during interviews when you’re hiring people?

RH: CVs one page. I’ve got 21 years of experience and I’d pretty much get my CV on one page. Somebody with very little experience has no excuse. Especially when you advertise for a role and you get 50 to 100 applicants, I don’t want to be looking at a seven-page CV, I get bored of it. I guess on a CV as well, only state roles or skill sets that are applicable to the job. Just keep it succinct.

One question I do ask interviewees is, ‘what do you know about the business?’. Somebody who has researched the business or looked at the menus as opposed to somebody who just goes, ‘I want a job’, you automatically see the drive and passion in somebody researching the business and taking the time and effort. When applying for a job, go into the bar, restaurant, or cafe you’d like a job in and observe them; have some food, have a drink, watch the staff and management. Look at whether you can see yourself working there.

Since that’s a bit difficult to do nowadays, how else would you recommend people do their research?

RH: Look at [the outlet’s] website, look at their social media, see what they’ve done previously and what events they’ve run like competitions or whether they do charity work. Research the business to see if their values align with your values.

Any other tips for applying for jobs in hospitality?

RH: Number one rule: don’t apply for a job during service hours. I’ve knocked back so many people in the middle of a really busy lunch service where somebody comes in asking for a job and I say don’t bother, this is not the correct time.

So you’ve worked different jobs in hospitality like cafes and clubs and hotels etc. How do you go about moving between different jobs in the industry?

RH: It’s like most industries, a lot of it is word of mouth. A few of my roles I was headhunted where people who worked with me previously or were working with me at the time, were offered an opportunity and basically took me with them.

How do you think people could maximize their networking opportunities?

RH: It’s very different this time but you could still do online training sessions, virtually meet the distillers, the brewers, that sort of thing. Before the pandemic, it was going to cocktail competitions, tastings, charity fundraisers and just kind of getting around different bars and restaurants. Invariably, the old six degrees of separation in hospitality is more like two degrees of separation. It’s a very transient and high paced environment where if I want to speak to someone I know, one of my friends will probably know them.

How do you think people could be using their time in lockdown now to prepare themselves for the job market post-lockdown?

RH: Lot of online research and learning. There is a lot of material out there that people can get for free and the more knowledge the better.

MSA Training and Professional Development offer a range of hospitality courses, check them out on our website.


Written by Dinithi Perera – dinithiperera.wordpress.com