How to get a server job with no experience

Last updated: May 20, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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How to get a server job with no experience
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Working as a server can be rewarding. You'll make friends and gain valuable skills that you can use in other roles. Servers often continue their careers in the food industry and climb the ladder to become team leaders or restaurant managers.

The career outlook is good, and demand for servers is growing faster than average at 20%.

These workers serve food and drinks to customers. The role is fast-paced, and you'll be on your feet for long hours. If you enjoy working with others and have an outgoing personality and great attention to detail, a server job could be perfect.

The best news is that you don't usually need experience to work as a server. However, you can do a few things to increase your chances of getting a job.

What are they? Let's find out.

What is a server?

Servers work in the foodservice industry. You can find them in restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, and cruise ships. Servers are also called waiters or waitresses.

They give customers menus, discuss specials, and take orders. Servers work as part of a team and deliver the orders to the kitchen and bar staff. When the meals are prepared, they take them back to the customer.

Servers clear tables, and depending on the workplace, they may need to make drinks. Sometimes they set up tables and greet customers as they enter the premises.

Servers can accept payments and give receipts. If customers have any questions or need assistance, they’ll ask the server for help.

Most servers have rostered shifts, and you can expect to work nights and weekends. They usually get an hourly wage and tips for good service.

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What skills do you need to be a server?

For most server roles, you don't need previous experience as training is done on the job. If you want to serve alcohol to guests, you'll need to be at least 18 years old.

It's a customer service job, so you'll need effective communication skills. You'll need to be a good listener and a confident speaker.

Servers need great attention to detail. You'll need to take accurate food orders and be careful to record any food allergies.

You'll work closely with bar, kitchen, and house staff to make sure customers have a good time. So, you should be a good team player. Your team may include bartenders, chefs, bussers, and hosts.

If your role includes cash handling, basic math skills will be beneficial.

Servers need to be physically fit, as you'll be on your feet for long hours. Computer skills, manual dexterity, and problem-solving skills are also recommended.

How to get a server job

Even if you don't have experience, you can still get a job as a server. Here are ten things you can do to help you land a position.

1. Look for entry-level positions

Previous work experience isn't necessary for most server roles. Look for "entry-level positions" or those that say "no experience necessary."

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You can see what the requirements are in the job description. Being a good server is about having good communication skills, attention to detail, and enthusiasm.

Hard skills such as using the coffee machine or cash register can be learned through workplace training.

Not all restaurants will advertise online. Some establishments will have a notice in the store window or on social media. When you ask about the position, you can check whether it's entry-level.

2. Make sure you’re available

Foodservice jobs aren't like traditional nine-to-five roles. Most servers don't work regular business hours, so you'll need to think about your availability before committing.

The busiest times will usually be the lunch and dinner rush, and some servers need to work at breakfast time.

During the interview, the hiring manager may ask you if there are any days you can't work. If you're available for weekends and night shifts, it'll improve your chances of getting hired.

If you can't commit to restaurant hours, a server job might not be the right choice.

3. Refresh your resume

It's always a good idea to check your resume and cover letter before applying for a job. If you've never worked as a server, keep your resume to one page and include any other work experience.

Never had a job? You can include your education, extracurricular activities, or volunteer work. Focus on your skills and include references from teachers or friends in a similar industry.

You can take a look at these free resume templates or sign up for a Jobcase profile. Members get access to a free resume builder, and you can create a professional resume without any fuss.

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4. Visit different restaurants

If you're serious about being a server, visit different food establishments in your area.

You can get an idea of what servers do and think about the type of job you'd like. For example, would you prefer to work in a family restaurant, a club, or a cafe?

Try to visit when it's not too busy. This will give you a chance to chat to the staff and ask them about any job opportunities. If you're lucky, you may even get to speak to a manager to learn more about the hiring process.

Even if they're not hiring now, they may be in the future. You can leave a copy of your resume.

5. Discover your transferable skills

Even if you don't have experience in food services, you'll probably still have transferable skills. These are skills that can be used in any industry.

For example, there are soft skills such as good communication, teamwork, and organization. Then there are hard skills, such as computer skills and cash handling skills.

Look at your job history and think about whether you have transferable skills. You can highlight these on your application.

Let's say you worked as a shop assistant. You'd probably know how to use a point of sale (POS) system and have good customer service skills. These are both transferable to the food services industry.

Or, if this is your first job, you may have skills from school. Maybe you played on a sports team or were a member of a club.

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6. Practice at home

You can get ready for a server role by practicing at home. To be successful, you'll need to balance trays with food and drinks.

Why not have a dinner party or practice with your family? You can also practice memorizing orders and using basic math at home.

Remember, you'll need good communication skills. You can set up a mock restaurant and ask a friend to pretend to be different customers. Think about how you'd react in difficult situations or if you're asked a question you don't know.

If you're applying for a specific role, learn everything you can before the interview. For example, you can study the menu. Are there gluten-free options? Is there a kid's menu? Does the company have a “specials board?”

7. Look professional

Servers are the face of the restaurant, bar, club, or cafe. They need to create a good first impression and have a neat and tidy appearance.

The server outfit depends on where you work. For example, you may get a shirt with the company logo, an apron, and black pants. If you have long hair, you may be asked to wear it up for hygiene reasons.

If you've been asked to an interview, we recommend the business casual dress code. For men, this could be a button-down shirt with a sweater and black pants in the winter or a polo shirt in the summer. For women, this could mean a blazer with a tee shirt and black pants.

Never wear jeans or sneakers to a job interview. Closed-toe shoes are a safe choice.

Make sure your outfit is clean and ironed.

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8. Work on your fitness

Servers have a busy job. If the food establishment is popular, it'll be filled with hungry customers. There won't be much time to sit down, and you'll be on your feet for most of the shift.

Plus, you'll need to navigate spaces between tables and customers, often with a tray of food and drinks in hand.

You'll need to be physically fit and have good balance to do this job. You can get ready by working on your fitness. You don't need to be a professional bodybuilder or train for a marathon to do the job. However, regular walking, running, or cycling can help you prepare for those busy hours at work.

Light weight training and exercises that improve balance and flexibility can also be beneficial.

9. Be confident

You'll be working with people, so confidence is essential. This skill comes from within, and you can become more confident with practice.

First, you should try to be positive. Focus on the good things, and you'll feel better about yourself.

Try to do things outside of your comfort zone. For example, you can meet new people and attend events you'd normally say "no" to. Start conversations, and speak up when you’re in a group.

Is there a club or activity in your area you can join? Or have you always wanted to volunteer? Not only will you learn new skills, but you'll have to connect with people outside of your usual network.

When you try new things, your confidence will grow.

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10. Do a short course

The server role can be varied. Besides serving customers, you can mix beverages, make coffee, and accept payments.

If you want to be more versatile, you can upskill in other areas. There are courses and certifications available in-person or online, and you can add these to your resume. For example, you could do a food safety training course or first aid course.

For those interested in being beverage servers, a short bartending course or barista training will look good on your application.

Some restaurant staff help manage stock inventory. Microsoft Excel can be a beneficial skill.

Tips for a server job interview

Made it to the interview stage? When you follow these interview tips, getting a job as a server will be easier:

  • Always arrive on time. Employers want reliable employers, and punctuality is a must

  • Practice these common questions and answers before the day

  • Greet the hiring manager with a friendly smile. Be confident but not overly familiar

  • Wear the right interview attire

  • Bring a copy of your resume

  • Be conscious of your body language. Don’t cross your arms, and try to make eye contact

  • If you don’t have experience, focus on your transferable skills and personality traits

  • Research the company ahead of time. You can do this online or in-person

  • Have your references ready. If it’s your first job, use personal character references

  • After the interview, you can send a short thank-you email

You can read these interview tips for more information.

Where to find a server job

The average hourly wage for a server in the US is $12.50 per hour or $26,000 per year. If you're good at your job, you can make extra money through tips.

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Where can you find a server job? Check out these server positions on our job board.

Are you looking for other foodservice jobs? There are jobs for bartenders, chefs, and bussers.

You can also check in with restaurants, cafes, and bars in your area to see if they’re hiring.

Getting a server job without experience

Server jobs are often entry-level, so getting hired is a great way to start your career in foodservice.

If you’re a people person, have good communication skills, and enjoy a busy work environment, a server job could be for you.

To get a server job without experience, you can do a few things. You should make sure you’re available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner shifts.

Look for entry-level positions and refresh your resume and cover letter. You can add transferable skills from previous jobs and skills you gained at school.

Visit local restaurants to get to know managers and see what servers do at work. Practice common server duties at home, including balancing trays and using basic math.

Make sure you look professional and learn to be more confident. Fitness is essential for the role, so make sure you have a regular workout routine.

You can do a short course online or in person to boost your skills.

What are you waiting for? Start your job search at our job board. Plus, we have more articles like this in our resource center.

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Phoebe Montrie
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✨A Bartender Who Loves Helping Others!✨

This is a wonderful and comprehensive resource! After almost a decade in the Food Service industry personally, I can confirm that these tips cover a lot of essential knowledge for thriving in these kinds of jobs! Thank you for sharing!

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