Hello fellow coffee lovers!
I am currently struggling with unemployment. My previous employer went out of business and left me and my co-workers without work. At first I looked at this positively, as free time on my hands to enjoy the summer, visit relatives, study and work in my big vegetable garden. Now winter is creeping in and I'm really feeling the chill. I have no heat, no $ for transportation and my spirits are waning.
I believe part of my difficulties in finding a new job are the last 3 jobs I have on my resume. My most recent employer knew little about coffee but was strongly opinionated about it. She used half the beans that my co-workers and I thought efficient for drip coffee. She extracted shots fast and watery. She re-steamed milk multiple times. Anyways, I don't want to harp on her, she was a lovely person in many ways, she just started a business without really knowing what went into it.
My employer before that was a catering company with a popular lunch spot. They also had little regard for coffee or it's proper handling. We used Illy pre-made pods and did the best we could with that.
And the largest blot on my resume is Starbucks. I won't even go into how bad Starbucks can look on a resume, you probably understand. And they are the last job on my resume, so perhaps people think that is where I was originally trained.
So you can see that I have a problem here. Do potential employers look at my work history and presume that I care little for 'real' coffee? Do they assume I am not the right type of person? And that I must be a poor barista because these places didn't encourage otherwise? That I have deeply ingrained bad habits?
How do I convince them otherwise without sounding snobby, without complaining about previous employers?
I make a point to show my love for coffee, I use language to describe what I know how to do. It is true that I might be rusty, but when I do get a chance to work on a machine my skills come back quick and I love to make beautiful, tasty drinks.
I stay with jobs for a year or three, I really know my customer service. I'm good!!!!!!
I started at a wonderful cafe in California where they were really into coffee. I have lovely dreams about working on that old La Marzocco. . .
Any advice?
I've given resumes to all of the cafes nearby. I've sent resumes on craigslist. Unfortunately, many of those cafes don't say who they are, so I can't show up in person.
I don't know what to do! I don't want to work at Olive Garden!

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if you've worked at other shops with better reputations that the previous one... just put those on your resume. or, a good cover letter explaining those finer points would probably help, too. don't just settle for a job, either. if you know how to make coffee, and take pride in it, don't work for someone who doesn't make it right, or doesn. i've tried to be the guy that does it right and change the place, but fuck that, it's just a lot of effort that is rarely, if ever, appreciated.
Sarah, I've been out of work for close to a year and would love to go back to work as a Barista. I haven't worked as a Barista since 03 and being a 6.3, 275lb., 39 year old man doesn't make my chances at finding a Barista position. So I started a local coffee blog so I would have an excuse to meet local cafe owners and check out their operations and make, make contacts with prospective employers and learn who I wouldn't want to work for. My blog is at www.4loveofcoffee.com if you would like to check it out. I've had the blog for a month & a half now & have already befriended a couple cafe owners so, we'll see. Maybe you could do the same or something similar to get yourself in front of the people that do the hiring. Best wishes Sarah. - Cash c[_]
Walk into a place, ask for an owner or manager. Just be direct, shake their hand and say "I'm a barista". If it sparks discussion you can tell it's going to have an emphasis on coffee. A resume is good but what's better is getting an interview so you can go over it with them...a good follow up to "I'm a barista" would be "can we schedule a time to go over my resume'?". You don't even have to ask if they're hiring.

Also starbucks is not that bad on a resume or app. For a coffee leaning cafe it can be a plus because they know you're familiar with 1) their competition and 2) the most common clientele. Funny thing is a couple of them might have worked there at one point. Only negative is they might think you're poorly or improperly trained because the procedure has mapped out and automated...but you addressed that earlier on your resume :]

For a cafe that's less coffee centered...chances are the person you talk to will start a conversation about their favorite starbuck's drink O.o
Sarah,
as a shop owner in the early stages of growing into this little community and the business in general I would hire you on the usual trial basis just on what you presented me here. Given other economic conditions I don't think I would ever get to read this from you because you I'm sure would be working. Try and find a new start up shop / cafe and explain or point them to BX and have them read this post as part of your job application. New start ups seem to me to be a bit more willing to listen. Maybe I'm partial. Even if I was well established this down turn in the economy is a perfect time to weed out the dead wood and find some "diamonds in the rough" so to speak. This forum is a perfect place to make your case and by the way does Matt our host here have a group called Employment opportunities. If not I think it is time we start one. I for one would like to see a hot button right next "Classifieds" like, "Job opportunities" and or "Barista's For Hire"
Joe
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Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
for me, just getting started a shop, i'm full on baristi at the moment. even the most overly qualified person would be a stretch for me to hire, just because i'm building business and don't need anyone else right now. however, what made me hire the two people i did hire was previous experience and attitude. both my hires are willing to learn, relaxed, and good with people. one guy went from good milk / no latte art to great milk / good latte art in one night due to his willingness to work and learn. that's the best trait (besides honesty) i can think of for a barista to have.
I think all of the other advice is great. You could also add to the resume your involvement here on Barista Exchange (if they know coffee chances are they know this site) and any of the other forums etc that you participate in. Also, don't hesitate to list your favorite machine, brew coffee method or any other "geeky" stuff that would appeal to the type of coffee shop you are looking at.

Here at SelbySoft, I've been impressed when I've seen people list that they know about us, have been to our website or other things that indicate they know our business.

Good Luck!
Including BX on your resume, awesome idea Mike! I'm gonna use that one too. - Cash c[_]

Mike Spence said:
I think all of the other advice is great. You could also add to the resume your involvement here on Barista Exchange (if they know coffee chances are they know this site) and any of the other forums etc that you participate in. Also, don't hesitate to list your favorite machine, brew coffee method or any other "geeky" stuff that would appeal to the type of coffee shop you are looking at.

Here at SelbySoft, I've been impressed when I've seen people list that they know about us, have been to our website or other things that indicate they know our business.

Good Luck!
Grant Achatz got a job at Charlie Trotter's by sending in a letter every day for 3 months. He got the job when Trotter finally got tired of getting a new letter every day. Persistence pays off. I was declined to be interviewed by Intelligentsia more than 20 times before I finally got the interview that got me hired.

Best of luck.
In my opinion, your resume will not get you a job as a barista. It probably won't keep you from getting a job, though.

What I mean by that is if you hand your resume to a shop owner, they won't look at it and say "ooohh, I should hire you". However, if they were already inclined to hire you, your resume would look just fine.

All that means is that you need to develop a better network of connections and then use it. There are surely lots of opportunities to get out in your community and interact with others in your coffee community. Be a part of that community, let others see your passion and skills. There are people in the community that, if they have a favorable impression of you as a barista, will help you find work. In the process, you will probably also become a better barista.

Surely you've seen the discussions by cafe owners on this board asking where to find good employees? This is a two-way street, and is just as big of a problem for shop owners as it is for job seekers. We want people that are safe bets, that we know something about, that we've seen in action.

Your name needs to be on peoples' radars, and you need to keep your ear to the ground so that when spots become available you know about it and can get the first shot. Being involved at every coffee and barista event you can manage is a great way to do that.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
After reading all these posts on this subject I realize as a coffee shop owner that I could learn more about a potential employee in very little time if you gave me your BX link. This site can work just like a resume but take very little time on the shop owners part to learn the important factors regarding hiring you or someone. This site is turning into my resume, for sure. If your serious about getting hired put it all here and link your friends that are in the business as well. Oh and list your former employers if they are on BX. BX is not the one and only answer but it can be a fantastic tool.
Joe

--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
As an owner I'll reiterate in person attitude, persistence (times are tough everywhere, but when an opening does occur persistence can then pay off), and a cover letter (more important than the resume itself) about who you are and especially emphasizing your passion for coffee and people. I get resumes all the time, most I only give a cursory scan then permanently ignore. If preceded by the right cover letter both it and the resume get read and filed for future reference.

Agree being active on coffee forums doesn't hurt! I'm in Vancouver, WA and am just now bringing on board a person from Michigan who is active on BX and others...
Great question and lots of great feedback.

I feel for you. I really do. It's extremely difficult for anyone to find a quality barista position in our business and I wish you the best.

The only think I can offer you is to target the place where you really want to work. Find a shop that you admire and pursue a position there. Like the aforementioned Grant Achatz, he wrote a letter every day not to Charlie Trotter but rather to Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. In the end, Keller is noted for saying that he decided to interview Achatz just to get him to stop sending letters.

Once you've figured out which shop you want to work, get to know them. Learn about who they are and what they are about and be persistent. I can think of one hire (whom I'm about to hire) who is getting the chance to work for us strictly due to her persistence in asking me for a job. She's young, has no experience but her tenacity encourages me to give her the chance.

Making connections is another way to go about things. Be seen, get known and let your reputation precede you. I can think of two baristas who work for us that came about that way. They were out there, they cultivated good reputations, they demonstrated that their passion for the craft was beyond what their employer paid them to do. When you spoke to people that knew them, the reputations were excellent. Easy hires.

Starbucks on your resume isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've hired some great people who formerly worked for Starbucks. What I'm looking for is people skills, technical aptitude and a willingness to learn and change. That's true for any applicant with any background. If our way isn't "the best" then certainly your previous way isn't "the best" and your chances of being hired by me increase if you come with a humble disposition and a willingness to learn.

As an employer who's looking for great people to become tremendous baristas, I'm interested in the person. I want to see that there's something more to them. Can they interact with our customers? Can they excel to the level that we desire?

These are some of the criteria I'm looking for in potential hires.

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