How (Not) To… Get Into Hospitality

09 May 2023

How not to start your career
So you’ve decided that hospitality is for you? Perhaps you can whip up a mean Piña Colada or fancy yourself as a club promoter. But there are some bar-dinal sins you will want to avoid. Cairbry Hill is the director of Strange Hill, a trade and training agency focussed on the hospitality industry. He shares his top tips and tricks to break into the industry the right way.
Don’t... run before you walk

If you’re new to the industry, don’t apply for the bartender job. People often want to progress as fast as they can, but learning the ropes as a bar-back, for example, is crucial. You don’t have customers in your face and you get to learn everything about the way a bar operates, from sellers and till systems to back-of-house. It will help you build a solid foundation and go further in the long run.


You do you

Don’t throw your CV at every job you see. Hospitality is such a diverse industry, with so many different categories within it. Behind the bar alone, you could be in a restaurant, a nightclub, a private member’s club, a stadium, a festival or a speak-easy. You want to find the one that matches you best, which will also come through in the interview stage and beyond if you have given it some proper thought.


Know your stuff

You can’t just watch a video of some guy making a Negroni on Instagram and walk into a bar job. Do some research on what the job you’re going for involves and the training that could set you apart. Strange Hill is launching Professional Bar Training (PBT), the first ever fully accredited online education program for bar professionals in partnership with Pernod Ricard. Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) training is also highly regarded. And then there are courses you will need to progress into supervisor roles, like health and safety training.


Don’t fret (too much)

When you step through the door at your first job, don’t be afraid of the odd blunder. It’s so easy to catastrophise, but you learn from mistakes the most. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, please do. It shows initiative and an eagerness to bring your hospitality skills to the next level, which will only endear you to your manager.


Personality first

Knowing the ‘Art of Mixology’ back-to-front won’t hurt. But the one thing you can’t learn is how to bring your own personality to your service. Positivity, the ability to recognise a regular and being a good co-worker are paramount, whether you’re behind the bar at the swankiest joint, flyering for an open-air festival, or pulling pints at a local village pub. It’s what makes people come back, and hospitality what it is.

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