Any cook worth their toque can pull off a fettucine. Just another fettucine won’t get you a write-up in the local paper, or create the kind of buzz that brings in new customers by the dozens. But a fettucine that fills the dining room, now that’s something special.
A successful chef harnesses creative energy, takes risks, and is always focused on the guest experience — taste, temperature, texture, ambience. The whole package.
The patron’s dinner does more than just satisfy hunger. It creates excitement, comfort, or nostalgia. It’s the source of amazement, amusement or excited conversation.
What if you could do that in your job search? Create excitement, comfort, conversation. Leave people buzzing and wanting more, telling their friends. You can. Here’s some things you can learn from the chef.
- Figure out what the market wants. A chef will watch what’s performing well at other restaurants, watch dining patterns in her own establishment, and note what’s popular. Then, she’ll turn an eye to the trends. If every menu has a dish based in butternut squash, it could be a fad, or it could be reflective of today’s palate. With all that information, she’ll put together a specific dish, or a whole menu, to best compete with the marketplace. Your lesson: Look at what’s working around you. Who has landed jobs? How did they do it? What feedback did they get? What seems common in the job postings in your industry? What terminology is used? What skills are required? Knowing all this will help you best target your message.
- Inventory your ingredients. Sure, a chef can run out and buy squab if it’s called for. But, the chef may know that his homemade pastas are showstoppers while fish never seems to go as well in his kitchen. Once the chef has determined what the market is asking for, he has to use some combination of what’s in the pantry, what skills are in his kitchen, and what he has time to prepare. Your lesson: In order to put together an approach that meets the market’s needs, you have to know what you’re working with. What are your skills? Experiences? How are you well-positioned for this position? Make a list.
- Spice it up. A dish succeeds or fails based on the level and blend of spices added. Bland food does not a happy restaurant patron make. The chef will use a mix of spices to not only intrigue the patron, but keep them coming back for more. Your lesson: A bland elevator speech, resume or LinkedIn profile will leave readers unsatisfied. Think of ways to jazz things up a bit, with the language you choose, the formatting you use, or even your delivery method. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing.
- Put your own stamp on it. Many top chefs cultivate a signature style. They may be known for extravagant garnishes, extensive use of Asian flavors, or vegetarian twists on traditional meals. The chef’s individual style becomes a fun way to experience the meal, and a theme that gives frequent diners a glimpse of the personality behind the portabellos. Your lesson: Don’t be afraid to be a little personal. Show your enthusiasm, or what you’re really excited about. Talk about your passion, your experiences, and what makes you unique. People hire people, not resumes. Don’t be afraid to be human.
- Plate it up. The last part of the dining experience under the chef’s control is plating — the part where the dish is assembled, garnished, sauced, and sent out for consumption. Because we eat with our eyes before our stomachs, plating is a very important part of the meal. Some attention to detail and thought for the guest will go a long way to starting the meal off right. Your lesson: You may be the smartest, most qualified, coolest candidate on earth, but if you don’t hook them from the get go, they may never know it. Spend time not only figuring out what to say, but how to say it so that the listener is intrigued.
With that, I’ll leave you with a simple command — get cooking!
This article is based on a more in-depth presentation I’m delivering today for a local career organization. If you’d like me to speak to your organization on job search, communication or social media, please contact me!
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