Today’s special: a complete guide to everything you need to know about how to prepare a job-winning waitress resume.
From drinks to dessert and everything in between, waiters and waitresses work to make sure customers enjoy their restaurant experience from the moment they walk in the door until the meal is over. With the wait staff being an essential part of any restaurant operation, waitress jobs offer a great way to get a first-hand look at the hospitality and catering industry.
Waiting tables is a favorite part-time or summer job, but that doesn’t mean it’s light stuff. Waiters and waitresses are expected to handle even the busiest days with grace, speed and a smile. So how do you show a busy restaurant manager you’ve got what it takes?
A well-crafted waitress resume will do exactly that. And you’re in the right place for ideas, inspiration and expert advice to help you get started. Resume.io has developed more than 300 occupation-specific resume guides and resume samples , along with professionally designed, field-tested templates and a builder tool.
Let’s get started with a waitress resume designed to land the job that’s right for you. Ultimately, that could be a better-paying position at a high-end restaurant. We’ll show you how to polish your previous experience and show off personality traits that would make you an excellent member of the restaurant staff — someone with a passion for serving others.
This resume writing guide, along with the corresponding waitress resume example, will cover the following topics:
- Role of waitresses and the job market outlook
- General writing tips for a waitress resume
- The best format for structuring your waitress resume
- Advice on each resume section: header, summary, work history, education and skills
- Professional resume layout and design tips.
For more materials to inspire and advise you, take a look at related job positions like:
- Pastry Chef resume sample
- Food Service Worker resume sample
- Barista resume sample
- Hotel Management resume sample
- McDonald's resume sample
- Doorman resume sample
- Cook resume sample
- Restaurant manager resume sample
- Hostess resume sample
- Caterer resume sample
- Recreational Facility Attendant resume sample
- Food and Beverage Director resume sample
- Food service manager resume sample
- Concierge resume sample
- Bartender resume sample
- Hotel Front Desk Employee resume sample
- Server resume sample
- Sommelier resume sample
What does a waitress do?
Probably almost all people think they know what waitresses do. And probably most people think it’s a pretty easy job — if they’ve never done it. Consider the following partial list of a waitress’s duties.
Waitresses welcome customers to restaurants, offer them a table, give them menus, explain any specials and answer any questions about the menu. They bring drink orders and take food orders, keeping track of who ordered what and at which table. At finer restaurants, they may have to open a bottle of wine, tableside (and make it look easy).
When transmitting food orders to the kitchen, waitresses explain any special requests to the cooks. When the food is ready, they pick it up and bring it to the table, sometimes acrobatically carrying four plates at once, and magically remembering who ordered what. They ask diners if they need anything else, perhaps glancing at their drinks to see if they should offer a refill.
Good waitresses will check back on the table after a few minutes to see if everything is alright, or if anybody wants anything else. If a menu order displeases someone, the waitress may have to pick up the meal and take it straight back to the kitchen, explaining to the chef that the customer wanted the steak cooked medium-well, not bloody.
A good waitress will notice when diners have stopped eating and will offer to clear the table. They might mention the dessert options or offer an after-dinner coffee. And at some point, finally, they bring diners their check, and it had better be right. A few minutes later it’s time to pick up the payment and either process a credit card or bring diners their change. And just hope they get a decent tip for all their hard work.
Waitresses are often responsible for busing the table, wiping it clean for the next guests, setting the table with flatware, and making sure everything that goes in the center of the table (like napkins and condiments) is stocked. Depending on the restaurant, they may also be responsible for cleaning it after it’s closed. And that’s after spending a long shift on their feet wearing an ever-present smile, even when dealing with sometimes rude customers. Now, exactly which part of this sounds easy?
Understanding how restaurants hire
Compared to employers in other industries and larger organizations that use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — sort of like robots that read resumes looking for key job qualifications — most restaurants are a bit more traditional in their hiring practices. Job applicants email their resume or perhaps drop it off in person for the hiring manager to evaluate.
That makes it important for your waitress resume to be reader-friendly and demonstrate quickly and concisely that you have industry knowledge and a teachable spirit. A top-caliber resume also increases your chances of working in a more respected restaurant, which translates to more customers and better tips.
According to the National Restaurant Association (U.S.), one in three Americans have their first job experience in restaurants. Nearly six in 10 adults have worked in restaurants at some point. It’s a great way to start your professional journey.
If you’ve worked in the industry for any length of time, you know one problem all kitchens suffer from is a high turnover rate — sometimes as high as 75 percent. An employer can spend thousands of dollars each year hiring and training staff. When those new employees walk out the door, the owner loses a significant investment. That means you can up your chances of landing a waitressing job by constructing a resume that demonstrates your commitment and contribution to previous positions.
Landing a top job
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for wait staff is projected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029, on par with the average for all occupations. This translates to almost 100,000 new jobs, which means the work is there — if you know how to sell yourself.
But statistics also show that while work in run-of-the-mill restaurants is plentiful, positions at the sort of tuxedo-clad dining rooms that bring in top-notch tips are much more competitive. For these types of jobs, you need to prove that you know the ins and outs of formal service and have an exceptional level of professionalism. If you’re after that type of job, it’s worth putting more effort into your resume now. Waitresses report that high-end restaurant work can pay more than six figures in tips annually.
Whereas most other sectors have seen their turnover rates decline during the past decade, restaurants have seen an increase. According to the National Restaurant Association (U.S.), hiring and keeping employees is one of the biggest challenges restaurants face. In 2018, the turnover rate was at its highest level since the Great Depression.
How to write a waitress resume
Writing a waitress resume is sort of like taking the orders for a table of eight. You have to be organized and succinct — meaning short — yet, you can’t leave out anything important.
A waitress resume should be one page only, and it should follow this basic structure:
• The resume header
• The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
• The employment history section
• The education section
• The resume skills section
The header is the attractively designed section at the top of the resume that includes your name, occupation, address, phone and email. It may also include your photo, and perhaps your LinkedIn profile.
Review some of resume.io’s resume templates to find a header you like. When you find a design that suits your taste, simply click on it and replace the text with your own information, and you’ll have a great start on a professionally designed resume.
Before taking you through each of the other resume sections one at a time, let's look at some important general considerations,
Although your neighborhood diner may not use ATS software to filter resume, some larger chain restaurants certainly do, and it’s always best to optimize your resume to respond to these electronic gatekeepers.
ATS screening algorithms scan each incoming resume for certain specific phrases that employers expect to see on the resume of anyone who is qualified to do the job they’re offering.
Read advertised job listings closely, and mirror the job description language they use as much as possible. If an employer is looking for a waitress who is experienced, dependable and fast, it might be a good idea to mention on your waitress resume that you’re experienced, dependable and fast.
Choosing the best resume format for a waitress
One important consideration is the best resume format for structuring your waitress resume, particularly the way your employment history is organized.
If you have recent and somewhat continuous experience as a waitress, it’s probably best to list your work history in reverse chronological order, meaning last job first and first job last. In the course of a normal career (almost any career), people tend to start out small and move up to better jobs as they gain experience.
So your last (or current) job is likely to be the one that would be most impressive to an employer, and that’s why you should list it first. But if your career path has been a bit unorthodox, or you have limited experience, you can also opt for a functional or hybrid resume format.
Resume summary example : Show off that sparkling personality
Just like a waitress, the summary of your waitress resume is an expert multitasker. It’s the best place to catch an employer’s interest and convince the reader to keep reading. The best resume summary recipe includes a sprinkle of your strongest attributes, a dash of previous experience and a taste of your most impressive accomplishments.
An impressive summary should highlight your strongest personal and professional characteristics, along with key facts. How many years of experience do you have? Were you a top earner at your last restaurant? What skills did you master? Maybe it’s bartending, maybe it’s upselling the menu. Whatever your greatest strength is as a waitress, now is the time to mention it. If you have formal training or certifications, give hiring managers a taste for that, too. They can read the details later.
Finding stronger words
Descriptors that are clear, precise and energetic give the restaurant manager a stronger feeling about how you are and what you can do. Instead of “friendly,” try "attentive," "welcoming" or "approachable." Instead of saying you were motivated, explain how you quickly and effectively managed a dining room of 115 seats.
Below is a waitress resume example summary you can customize.
Welcoming and efficient waitress with 4 years of experience. Attentive to customer needs with a knack for remembering details. Delivered quick and efficient service in a 100+ seat dining room, without sacrificing the customer experience. Completed hospitality management courses. Bartending certified.
Employment history sample: Your accumulated experience
The employment history section of your waitress resume is where the jobs you've held are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Below each employer name and dates, provide a short description or bullet-point list of your duties and accomplishments. Provide concrete examples of excellent performance, backed by facts and figures wherever possible.
Some possible sources of numbers for your waitress resume:
- How big was the team that you worked with? Did you have any leadership roles like training others?
- How many seats were in the restaurant? How many customers did you routinely serve during a shift?
- How many dishes were on the menu? Were you able to memorize their names and components?
Waitresses do much more than just make sure the food gets from the kitchen to the table. Waitresses are often asked to prepare cold dishes, salads, desserts and drinks, set up the dining room before the service and make sure utensils and glasses are washed and properly stored when the night is over.
During the shift, they put orders into the point-of-sale (POS) system and make sure customers are able to pay and leave in a timely manner. All these tasks show that the waitress is a well-rounded custodian of the dining experience, not merely a food runner.
Below is a waitress employment history resume sample you can use while writing your own.
- Managed staff of 8 as the head waitress in a high-end restaurant
- Created flower arrangements and prepared tables in an aesthetically-pleasing manner before the service
- Memorized a 20+ dish menu and made personalized recommendations to customers
- Routinely served 50 customers during evening shifts and offered quick and friendly service
- Prepared hot dishes, salads and desserts and assembled drinks at the bar
When you’re new to the job
Waiting tables is a popular part-time gig for students and young people. Local restaurant owners know this and are looking for teachable candidates who can demonstrate a great work ethic and strong set of interpersonal skills. You have personality and determination on your side, but if you have any additional experience that might be relevant, make sure to mention it!
According to the Restaurant Success Report (U.S.), 51% of all restaurant operators name staffing as a top challenge to success, and 35% say training staff is a top challenge.
This means that employers will pay special attention to your employment history, trying to evaluate how likely you are to stay long-term. If you can, reassure them with detailed descriptions of your past jobs. If that’s not possible, make sure to emphasize your diligent and hardworking character is emphasized throughout the resume.
Possible related activities:
- Babysitting or childcare
- Teaching or tutoring
- Camp counseling
- Working at a retail store
- Working in an organization as a member of a team
- Volunteering in a soup kitchen or other volunteer food work.
How these skills can translate:
- Handling customers’ needs while working in a retail store
- Ability to work long hours on your feet after spending a summer in lawn care
- Attention to detail and the individual needs of each customer after working as a camp counselor.
Here is an employment history sample for someone without waitress experience.
- Was approachable and offered quick serve to customers as a retail associate in a large clothing store
- Had the stamina to work long days and evenings as a lawn care professional
- Attended to children’s individual food allergies and dietary restrictions while preparing lunches as a camp counselor
- Exuded patience and persistence while tutoring teenagers in foreign languages
- Handled money and the POS system with accuracy and attention to detail while working at a local ice cream shop
Look for the most important qualities in your existing experience and mold them to fit the fast-paced demands of the life of a waitress.
It’s important to quantify your abilities as a waitress to show a manager that you’re not just a friendly face, but a committed team member. If you streamlined a nightly process, won a customer-voted award or initiated a staff training event, include such accomplishments as the second two bullet points under that workplace. Any accolades the restaurant itself has received can also go a long way in proving your competence. After all, a restaurant can only be as good as its staff!
The waitress example below illustrates.
- Voted waitress of the year by customers (2020)
- Advanced from new employee to lead server in just six months
- Delegated tasks to create new set-up routine that saved an hour of time each night
- Lead server in Italian restaurant named Baltimore’s best in 2020
If your potential employer asks for references, you can add them as a custom section in our resume builder . If not, spend the extra space filling out your experience section. You can also include the line “references available on request” to let a manager know you’re prepared.
Waitress resume education example
Whether you have formal education or are just starting out, this section is about showing you’re willing to learn and improve. Waitresses often don’t need formal education in the area of hospitality since many responsibilities can be learned on the job. However, if you are knowledgeable in the areas of tourism, hospitality management or food service this can be a major bonus, especially when looking for higher-level jobs.
Even if you don’t have a degree in a related field, it doesn’t hurt to show that you’ve studied. If you’re just starting out, you can include your high school diploma or, for high school students, your diploma in progress. This is also the time to mention any additional certificates in bartending, restaurant service, food safety or other related areas.
Below is the education section from a waitress resume example.
2012 – 2016: John H. Patterson High School, Fresno, CA
2016 – present: University of Southern California, B.S. Psychology
Expected graduation: May 2021
Tips earned from bartending can make your serving job much more profitable. If you already have a certification, make sure to include it in your education section. If not, consider the laws where you live. In the U.S., the legal age for serving alcohol varies from state to state. Most states require the server to be at least 18 years old, but some places won’t hire bartenders who are younger than 21.
The Restaurant Success Report (U.S.) indicates that53% of restaurants offer food safety and alcohol certification training.
Some states offer online certifications, while others mandate an in-person course. Whatever the requirements, being a certified bartender can help you boost your income and broaden your reach when looking for a job.
Below is a sample of bartender training listed in the education section of a waitress resume.
Courses and certifications:
2020 – Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD)
Completed an 8-hour program designed to help servers understand alcohol laws and safe drinking to protect customers and the public
2019 – Servsafe course (16 hours)
Completed certification and training on food safety regulations, kitchen cleanliness techniques, food allergens and more
CV skills section : Where you shine
The skills section of your CV (which is what resumes are called in many places outside the U.S. or Canada) is where your greatest strengths must shine through. Regardless of your experience level, showing off your communication and people skills is essential to landing your next job.
Dependable, honest, hard-working, attentive, efficient — these characteristics are hard to train in someone who never learned them. That’s why employers care about your soft skills even if you’ve never worked in a restaurant before. Don’t forget to mention that not only do you take feedback well, you actively seek it out as part of the learning process.
If you’ve been a waitress for a while now, a manager assumes you know how to treat guests with respect. Now, show them that you’ve picked up more precise industry knowledge.
Do you know how to:
- Quickly and effectively use the POS system to put in orders and modify them based on requests and food allergies?
- Upsell menu items like wine and dessert in a way that is honest and makes customers happy they decided to spend a little more?
- Make a variety of drinks, salads and desserts?
- Create flower arrangements or other dining room decorations?
- Handle the cash register and money with confidence and accountability?
- Memorize a large menu and be able to recite individual ingredients if asked?
- Know the specific health codes and food sanitation laws for your area?
Check out a waitress resume sample for the skills section below.
Skills listing example:
- Quick learner
- Competent with various POS systems
- Excellent memory
- Ability to upsell wine, appetizers and dessert
- Quickly handle sales and cash register with minimal errors
- Comfortable working in a team
- Calm and courteous even under pressure
- Able to clean and prepare the dining room with candles, decorations, etc. before and after service.
Sometimes the line between hard and soft skills can be blurry. To determine hard skills, try asking yourself if there’s a concrete action, precise knowledge or even an object involved. If not, keep the item on the soft skills list.
Speaking multiple languages can be very valuable in a restaurant setting where customers may come from all over the world. List each of your languages and your fluency level – a manager may be very thankful to find someone who can bridge the gap.
Waitress resume layout and design: The visual story
Whether you’re new to waitressing or you’ve got a few restaurants under your belt, a clean and attractive layout sends the message that you are a professional. It’s not necessary to include color, pictures or more creative elements, since a manager is looking for someone who can do the job efficiently and with a smile. Our resume builder tool and wide-ranging template styles allow you to find just the right balance between a resume that’s straightforward and attractive.
Try using a Simple template to highlight your skills in an easy-to-read format. These layouts are proven to get attention while maintaining a minimalist feel. For more unusual or thematic restaurants, you can also check out our Modern or Creative template categories.
Since you’ll most likely be handing the resume to restaurant owners in person (or emailing to the manager prior to an interview), download your resume as a PDF. This will allow both for optimal printing and for clear, concise formatting that doesn’t change on different computers. The resume builder makes it easy to do in just a few clicks.
Key takeaways for a waitress resume
- Waiting tables remains one of the most popular entry-level jobs in terms of earning ability and available positions.
- The high turnover rate will continue to be a challenge in the industry, which means work will be plentiful as the market grows over the next decade.
- Higher paying jobs exist, but they are often very competitive, so it’s essential that your resume highlights your previous experiences in an authoritative way.
- A waitress job is about personality, but make sure managers have concrete facts about your abilities, especially at the top in the summary section.
- If you don’t have previous waiting experience, try to draw parallels between other types of work and the qualities needed for serving.
And if you want the perfect tool to save yourself time and land a serving job right away, use our tried-and-true resume builder with field-tested templates!