Restaurants: area of work

The UK restaurant industry has a lot to offer job hunting graduates, with plenty of employers to choose from and the possibility of setting up your own business.

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There’s a huge range of choice if you’re looking for a career in this sector, not only in terms of location and size of business but also in style, type of food served and whether it’s independent or part of a chain. The majority of restaurants are owner-operated so there’s scope for setting up your own business too.

Responsibilities for restaurant managers include planning shifts, overseeing standards of food, implementing health and safety procedures, and maintaining good service. In smaller, independent restaurants, jobs will usually involve a combination of many different roles and responsibilities. Large chains often have more specialised staff, and tasks such as recruitment and financial management are generally carried out by professionals in those areas rather than by restaurant managers.

This article was written before the start of the pandemic in 2020. As a result of Covid-19 – both the short-term closure of restaurants during lockdowns and the long-term financial difficulties caused by both these closures and the general state of the economy – you might find the restaurant industry difficult to enter at the moment. However, you may still be able to find food-related work or experience, with employers that offer takeaway food (eg local restaurants or chains such as Greggs) or for ‘meals on wheels’ schemes, as examples. For more guidance on searching for work under the current circumstances, take a look at our article on job hunting during the pandemic.

Working environment

Restaurants can be found in a range of locations, from high streets to holiday camps. In most job roles you’ll need to be prepared to work shifts, including evenings, weekends and bank holidays. The pressure will be on when the restaurant is busy, so keeping calm will help maintain a good working atmosphere.

Getting in and getting on

Routes into the restaurant business vary considerably. For example, some managers start their careers as waiting or kitchen staff while others join after their A levels. If you want to be accepted onto a management training scheme, you will often need further or higher education qualifications in a relevant subject. Good people skills are vital as you’ll be dealing with staff and customers from a variety of backgrounds. Work experience is particularly useful for learning about good customer relations. Commercial awareness and an understanding of finances also may be necessary. If you are working on marketing the business, creativity can be a valuable skill.

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