All too often, I see people overlooking the opportunities that exist in the restaurant industry. While employment in food service has frequently been viewed as temporary work or ideal only for teens and college students, the industry has much, much more to offer to people of all ages and stages of life.
Whether you are seeking temporary employment or a fulfilling and lucrative career, here are six reasons the restaurant industry can be the perfect fit.
1. Tremendous Growth and Advancement Opportunities.
It seems that almost everyone has worked in the restaurant industry at some point. In fact, studies show that half of all adults have done so at some point in their lives. Even celebrities have given it a try — Rachel McAdams worked at McDonald’s, Madonna at Dunkin' Donuts, and Jennifer Aniston and Mariah Carey reportedly started out as waitresses.
While not everyone has Hollywood aspirations, many employees simply want a position that offers plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement. Employees want to acquire new skills, hone existing ones, and hopefully earn some more money along the way.
Fortunately, restaurants naturally cater to career paths. Research by the National Restaurant Association found that 80 percent of restaurant owners and 90 percent of restaurant managers started as entry-level employees. People — very early in their careers — are given the opportunity to lead their own teams and operate multimillion dollar businesses. Plus, there are offshoots of the business, such as marketing, accounting, purchasing, HR, and IT, that provide advancement opportunities as well.
2. Not the Traditional 9 to 5.
One of the reasons that food service positions are so popular among teens and college students is because of the flexible scheduling. In this industry, the boring 9 to 5 hours are swapped for other shifts — like weekends, evenings, and a plethora of additional scheduling options.
These schedules are perfect for students, but also for retirees, stay at home moms, and really anyone else who is looking for a flexibility. The ability to schedule shifts around other commitments is a huge plus for employees.
3. Socializing on the Clock.
When you work in a restaurant, you meet people from all walks of life. The industry is literally bursting with fun, interesting people. Add in the patrons and this is an absolute dream come true for a "people person!"
There is a unique comradery that exists among restaurant coworkers too. Maybe it's the non-traditional work hours or the laidback culture, but amazing friendships tend to develop. Plus, you'll likely get to know the regular patrons quite well, swapping stories while serving up delicious, mouthwatering foods. What's not to love?!?
4. Never a Dull Moment.
For those who thrive in a fast-paced setting, the restaurant industry won't disappoint. Between cashing out a table, refilling beverages, and plating entrees, there really is never a dull moment. The synergistic energy generated by a bustling and lively restaurant is absolutely captivating. And in creating an atmosphere in which patrons can eat, drink, and be merry, your shift will most certainly fly by.
5. Inspire Future Leaders.
Restaurant leadership is an essential trait for success. Luckily, the industry is filled with awesome, motivational leaders. Those with a passion for leadership can demonstrate similar skills to countless others, encouraging and developing future leaders from within their teams. It can be an amazingly gratifying venture. Personally, I was lucky to have great leaders and mentors throughout my career — and their advice and guidance helped me get to where I am today.
6. The Industry Just Keeps Growing.
Throughout my 15+ years in the restaurant industry, the growth I've witnessed has been incredible. And it shows no signs of slowing. Industry sales have grown from approximately $586 billion in 2010 to $782 + billion in 2017. Employment opportunities have increased as well — from 12 million employees in 2006 to a projected 16 million by 2026. With consumers spending nearly half of their food dollars in restaurants, the anticipated future demand remains strong.
Carrie Luxem is a human resources professional specializing in the restaurant industry. In 2010, she founded Restaurant HR Group where she partners with dozens of restaurateurs to take care of their greatest assets — their people. With a career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Carrie is frequently sought out for her modern, yet simple and effective advice and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Restaurant News, and Independent Restauranteur. Connect with her on social media or learn more at CarrieLuxem.com.