How to Write a Chef CV
It takes a determined approach based on hard work to gain a good position as a chef. Many start in small pubs or cafes before moving up the ranks in restaurants, hotels and corporate venues, or to work as a private chef.
Some jobs can be gained based on word of mouth and who you know, but others require regular applications with the submission of a CV. Even with interviews gained through personal contacts, you will often be asked for a copy of your Chef CV, so it's as well to ensure it's updated regularly. Here's how to present yourself to your best advantage in writing.
Obviously there is a skill to producing an attention-grabbing CV. A good option is to use a renowned company for Professional CV Writing such as Bradley CVs, as its experienced consultants know what employers are looking for and have the inside knowledge of knowing what to include in your Chef's CV.
Chef CV Profile
The three or four sentences at the top of your Chef CV are your opportunity to create an immediate impact with an employer. This is where you must say what sets you apart from other applicants - your main areas of experience, your strengths and what makes you a chef who should be given a closer look.
If you are working as a particular type of chef, then you may want to indicate this on your CV, for example: Sous Chef, Commis Chef, Pastry Chef, Head Chef, Chef de Partie or Executive Chef.
What sets you apart? State how many years' experience you have and the type of kitchens you've worked in - focusing on the best. Leading or working in a team, managing budgets and managing people deserve to be mentioned (especially on a Head Chef CV or Executive Chef CV), as well as the culinary specialities you excel in. If you have a high level of training, such as a recently attained culinary degree or a diploma, then do mention it here.
In both hotel jobs and catering jobs, you can draw on areas of experience such as managing a kitchen, food and supply ordering, menu planning and recipe development. Are you interested in current trends? Are you up to date with these in your menus? If it fits with what the employer is seeking, mention these strong interests too.
Additionally, you should draw attention to your enthusiasm for the work and your creativity in your chef's CV. It can be a tough and tiring business, so when an employer knows how much you are committed to doing the work, they will more readily believe that you'll put in the hard work.
If you are struggling to write your own Profile, then you might want to consider using our CV Writing Service to give you a head start over all the other candidates who will apply for the same chef jobs as you.
Achievements on your Chef CV
An achievements section is appropriate if you've a few years experience in the industry, and certainly if you're applying to a more upmarket or a corporate employer. Research the employer first as this will influence what you need to include and the order in which you list your accomplishments.
An advanced level of training is worth including, particularly for more senior roles at corporate venues or on a Head Chef CV or an Executive Chef CV. The 5 or 6 sentences with bullet points should combine to describe you as a chef, while conveying your innovations and managerial capabilities.
For example, if you have won awards or competitions, include these, as they are certainly achievements. If you've effectively managed a kitchen, state how many covers were prepared each shift.
The best achievements are always quantified - in other words, they include numerical measurements - and you should aim to do this with each of them. If your supply ordering saved the restaurant money while maintaining quality standards, state how much costs were reduced in financial terms. If table turnovers increased after you revised the menus, state how much they rose by.
When you've been working within speciality hospitality jobs, e.g. Executive Chef, Commis Chef, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef, Pastry Chef or Head Chef, then you might want to list specific achievements in your CV that related to these jobs.
Your achievements in your Chef CV should also convey your personal qualities and skills, as these make you a good employee just as much as your culinary skills. Commitment, flexibility and the ability to work to strict timetables are highly important in the kitchen, as are solid communication skills. Above all, a calm, confident and collaborative approach is much valued.
The higher level your role, the more important are skills such as marketing, record-keeping and report preparation. Your ability to rationalise supply orders and to standardise recipes also needs to be conveyed.
The convention for work histories on CVs is that you should only provide detail on jobs from the past 10 years. However, within the restaurant business, this is sometimes overridden in order to include highly relevant experience from more than 10 years back. You should consider whether this is really essential on your Chef CV and only include older positions if their inclusion shows something that wouldn't be shown otherwise.
For each listing, include the employer's name, the inclusive dates of your employment and your position. You may feel that your job titles are self-explanatory, but do list what you did in each position. Frequently, your actual experience will be wider than that suggested by your job title.
Try to write your duties as if they are achievements. The more specific you can be about how much work you did - the size of the orders you placed, and exactly how you managed the inventory - the stronger the impression the employer will gain. If you assisted in other areas of the kitchen, state which lines you helped with and for how long.
The more information you can include, the more the employer will see that you aren't someone who just does the basic job, but that you go above and beyond what's asked for. This makes you valuable as a prospective employee.
Somewhere in your career history, state that you're able to accept supervision and work to the orders of superiors, as well as work in a team. In a sometimes hectic environment, there are times when most staff need to take instruction from others without making a fuss.
Attention to detail is also extremely important, as nobody wants to have to be checking your work all the time.
You also need to be specific about the kind of menus you worked with in each job. Be clear about whether meals were created only from fresh ingredients, or from a combination of prepared or processed ingredients. Combined with your specialist interests, these will give the employer a sense of where you're coming from on a cultural level. In other words, they'll know whether you're going to fit into their kitchen and restaurant.
On a Head Chef CV or Executive Chef CV you really need to make your Career History stand out, because you will be competing against a lot of other candidates with really impressive CVs.
Besides culinary duties in the kitchen, you career history can cover some or all of the following areas: business management, customer service and guest relations, food hygiene and safety, food and drink management, recipe development, restaurant supervision, budgeting and accounting, and the laws and regulations covering catering and licensed premises in your area.
Chef CV Qualifications and Training
You can include your academic and professional culinary training under the same section heading. If you prefer, you can subtitle this section Professional Training or Education and Training - whichever works best is individual and depends on just what you are going to include.
If you have a culinary arts degree or a diploma from a culinary college, list this first. Include the title of your qualification, the institution where you gained it and the year you left. If you specialised in any areas, list these on the next line.
Hospitality courses, NVQs, SVQs or VRQs can also be listed. If these are completed as apprenticeships, include both the title of the college or training provider, and the workplace where you gained your hands-on experience.
This is also the section where you list shorter training courses and certification in areas such as environmental health training (under the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) and food safety certifications. You may already have listed this in your profile, achievements or work history, but that doesn't matter - you need to list it here too.
If you have other certifications or relevant experience that is industry related without coming directly under chef or kitchen training, then list these as well.
On a Head Chef CV or Executive Chef CV, you need to emphasise your qualifications and training, as far more is expected of you that a more junior chef.
It's worth including some skills from areas outside hospitality, if only to show that you are a rounded candidate. IT skills are frequently useful, even if they don't come under a job description - there may be times when you are asked to fill in for another staff member, or you may be promoted to a position where IT skills are needed.
References on a Chef's CV
Most CVs don't include a references section - if the employer wants to interview you, they will ask for references at that point. However, in the world of catering and hospitality, the name of a referee could open doors for you. References should be included on a separate page to your CV. Either include it with your printed CV or attach it to the email you send with your CV.
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