How To Get A Job As A Bartender Without Experience

Working as a a bartender seems like an ideal job for many people. This article discusses how to get a job as a bartender, even without experience.

Ah, the life of a bartender - pouring drinks, listening to music, socializing with customers, talking sports with the guys - and you get paid for it. It seems pretty good, doesn't it? But how does one get a job as a bartender, especially if you don't have any experience? This would seem to be a problem, considering the number of people who want to do the exact same thing you do, and might actually have some kind of bar or restaurant experience to put on their application. However, a lack of experience doesn't necessarily mean you can't get a job as a bartender.

The best and most obvious way to get a bartending job without experience is if you know somebody who works at a bar. Most bar managers would prefer to have people whom they trust recommend employees, so if you have a friend in good standing who works at a bar, by all means exploit the contact. If you don't know people that work at the bar, you can remedy the situation by hanging out at the bar - become a regular (but not a pest!), get to know the bartenders and bar managers, and if you behave well and get along with everybody, when an opening comes up not only will you hear about it but the staff will already know you.

Suppose you don't know anybody that works at a bar, and you just aren't willing to hang out a bar night after night in the hopes that a job opens up. This is certainly reasonable. It is still possible to get a job as a bartender, even without experience. The key lies in your application and your interview.



First, the application. Make sure you put everything on the application that could possibly relate to serving drinks. Ever made margaritas at a house party? This can become "Bartender - Private Functions." Poured a drink at a wedding? "Bartender - Weddings." Sure, you're stretching the truth a little bit, but if you've actually done the mixing, it's experience. Any other kind of service experience is helpful here - restaurants, food industry, customer service at a department store - anything. Bartending is a service profession, and as such bartenders have to prove an ability to get along with the general public. Any jobs you've had in the past that qualify in this capacity should go on the application.

Second, the interview process. When applying for a job as a bartender, make sure you speak with a manager in charge of hiring. Leaving an application with a bartender or host and going home will accomplish nothing, especially considering the amount of competition you probably have for the position. Consider the type of bar that you are applying at and dress appropriately. Smile and be friendly with any customers or other employees you meet while waiting for the interview, and if offered something to drink, by all means have something - non-alcoholic. More than one prospective bartender blew their chance at a job by ordering a beer while waiting for an interview. Just because it's a bar doesn't mean you should be unprofessional!

Preparing for the interview is as important as the interview itself. Your best bet would be to learn as many drinks as possible before going in to apply. Get a bartender's handbook and make flash cards with the ingredients of some of the more popular (and obscure) drinks. Practice pouring drinks at home, and learn about different types of beers and how they are brewed. A strong knowledge of the product you are selling will impress any bar manager.

Another possible route is to take a bartending course. This is a highly controversial debate in the world of bartending. While it is true that you will learn how to make a lot of drinks in these courses, the high costs of them make them less appealing. Also, for some reason, there is a great deal of prejudice against bartending-course graduates in the "real world" of bartending. In fact, a surprisingly high number of bar managers will immediately discard any application that lists a bartending school in the education or experience section. Why this is the case is a mystery, but unless the bartending school has set up the interview for you, you should probably just leave it off the application.

In the end, bartending is a customer service position. Being well-groomed, friendly, and engaging is just as important as whether or not you have experience. Bar managers want their staff to do a good job, but they also know that hiring a good mix of employees is harder to accomplish than teaching a new bartender how to make a martini. If you learn your drinks, are thoughtful about your application, and prepare for your interview, you'll be behind the bar in no time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011