You Can Make Part-Time Work Sound Impressive on a Resume

Dear Recruiter,

I’m a 2017 graduate who worked in the service industry (bartending for 15 years, managing for seven) before returning to school. Should I consider a resume summary since I’m having difficulty quantifying my achievements? Also, is it advisable to consider positions above entry-level given my experience working in teams and managing? Thanks!


Managing Bartender

Hi Managing Bartender,

I’m torn on the effectiveness of resume summaries or objective statements. Typically, I see them filled with bland platitude, “hard working,” “organized,” “collaborative,” without any specific, quantified examples.

I prefer to see the information that would’ve been included in a summary incorporated and quantified into the bullet points under specific work experiences. It’s one thing to tell me you’re hard working, it’s another to show me how your hard work resulted in a positive outcome for your company.

There is an exception. As Muse contributor Lily Zhang explains in this article, it “can be used to tie together disparate experiences with a set of key transferable skills.” So keeping that in mind, you can use yours to tie the skills you gained in your 15 years of service industry experience to the key skills needed in the field you’re applying to now.

Ask yourself “What experiences, skills, and characteristics matter in my target jobs?” and demonstrate how you’ve gained those through your previous work. This formula makes it easy to highlight those transferable skills. (I promise, it’s not as tricky as it sounds.)

For example, here’s how I would tailor a bartending job for an entry-level position:

  • Managed over $30,000 in weekly bar inventory and consolidated vendor management saving company 10% annually.

  • Oversaw the customer experience for 500 visitors weekly, providing cheerful and helpful service.

  • Directed a team of 9 wait staff, including scheduling, mentoring and disciplinary actions resulting in a significant decrease in employee turnover.

Now, while your previous experience as a manager is relevant, in many industries managing individuals before you’ve become proficient in the nuances of the work yourself may be difficult.