Whether you do it as a part-time summer job or a long-term career, bartending provides a variety of essential soft and hard skills that can set you up for success in your work and social life.
In this blog, we outline the five key skills every bartender develops and give some examples of how these skills can help you find a job in hospitality and beyond.
There’s a reason why bartenders are often called the therapists of the hospitality world. As well as delivering good service, being able to communicate effectively with customers is an essential part of the role. Most people can hold a conversation but what sets good bartenders apart is their ability to adapt their communication style to the needs of their customers, from nervous couples on first dates to regulars who are looking for a deeper interaction.
For some people this will come naturally, for others it will take a bit of practise. Either way, it’s a skill that will help you excel in most sales-based or account management roles as well as other service industry jobs.
Teamwork & Relationship-Building
In a busy bar, things can fall apart quickly if you don’t have a good working relationship with your colleagues. Likewise if you’re alone on the bar, having a good relationship with other team members will help you stay connected to the wider team and avoid any breakdowns in communication.
Consciously or not, most bartenders will take time early on to build rapport with their colleagues for this reason. So if you’re going for a role that asks for good teamwork, make sure to include your bartending experience and use it as proof of your skills in that area.
“I’ll have 8 shots, 3 Mojitos, 4 Long Island Ice Teas…” – if an order like that along with a snaking queue of customers doesn’t immediately fill you with stomach-churning panic then you’re probably a pro when it comes to bar-work.
The ability to perform in pressure situations, to keep a clear mind and focus only on the task at hand, is a bartender’s superpower. It’s also a skill that sets them up for many other careers, from cookery and catering to nursing and performing.
Thinking on your feet
Memorising the wine list and multiple cocktail recipes is one thing, being able to deal with off-menu requests is something else entirely. What makes adapting menu items to someone’s personal taste (or whipping up something else entirely) difficult is that it involves creativity. And it’s difficult to be creative when your boss is watching over you and there are customers waiting to be served.
But once you are able to learn this skill, you’ll feel bulletproof and well-equipped to take on more responsibility (hello, bar manager) or pursue different career paths entirely – social media management or nursery work, for example.
You need a thick skin to work behind a bar. As with all service industry jobs, there can be tricky customers to deal with and testing situations where things don’t go as planned.
Experienced bartenders learn to put bad nights behind them and focus on how they can be better tomorrow. It’s easier said than done, but if you are able to do this then you are well-suited to a range of different service industry roles, from call centre work to retail.