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How working at a bar gives essential skills for your CV

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Working in a bar is probably one of the most stressful, manic environments that you could find yourself in. It’s loud, people lose all sense of what manners are, and you’re on your feet for 10+ hours. But at the same time, this can be the most useful job you’ll ever have.

Working in a bar (especially as your first job) really is baptism of fire in the working world. You don’t have a choice about how busy your first shift will be or what drinks people will order. You just have to be ready for anything. Talk about throwing you in at the deep end!

Although it can feel like the worst job in the world at times, the skills you gain from bar work are absolutely invaluable, and will prepare you for the wider world of work in ways you might not even realise.

For shy people, working in a bar can be very intimidating; even for the more confident type, you’re still pretty exposed. Chatting and serving drinks go hand in hand when working at a bar. You have to accept that even though you’re supposed to be ‘working’, chatting to and humouring your customers (whether they be elderly men just wanting some company, or drunken teenagers who don’t know when to stop), is a big part of the job. You’ll eventually find that there’s no type of person, conversation topic, or situation that you can’t handle. ‘Social skills’ may be something employers read all the time on CVs, but you can really show this off in an interview. You’ll be amazed by how years of listening to people talk drunken nonsense to you has made you a great listener and communicator.

Communication skills sounds like the kind of basic skill everyone acquires, but not all jobs require you to be quite as social as bar work. Another key skill, and a very underrated one at that, is maths and number skills. Using a till is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and eventually you won’t even have to think about what buttons you’re pressing and how much change you’re giving, because it just becomes second nature. However, being able to handle and count money for hours at a time is actually a really useful skill that will benefit you in the long run.

Although the till does most of the work, every bar worker been in a situation where the till freezes or decides to wipe your tab, forcing you to do the maths in your head. Being able to think on your feet and do basic maths will be hugely appreciated in the job market. Common sense is a really underrated skill, and if you can work out the right amount of change after someone decides to give you the 10p but you’ve already selected change from £10 on the till, then you really can do anything.

As well as this, nothing will challenge you more than trying to remember and serve a 20 drinks round whilst being called to serve food but also remembering that someone is still waiting for a slice of lemon in their drink. To add to this, you need to clean up smashed glass, reload the dishwasher, restack the fridges and empty the bottle bin. Having all of these task to do not only teaches you to time manage and prioritise, but how to multitask.

Although working in a bar sounds simple enough (just pouring pints?), it challenges you far more than you’d imagine. If you can keep up with the tasks of working in a bar, then really anything else seems easy. Multi- tasking is a really valuable skill which is transferable in any line of work.

Furthermore, everyone knows that employers love people that can work as a team. Well, a group of bar staff are the most co-ordinated and organised team you could ask for. Communication with your fellow bar staff on a busy night is key to keep things running smoothly. “Could you finish pouring that Guinness for me?”, “that guy has just paid for his round so don’t cash it off again”, “the Fosters tap isn’t working now so make sure you tell people we can’t serve that”, “I’m just going to replace the Boddy’s barrel in case things get a bit busier” and even “watch your back” are all common exchanges behind the bar. It’s crucial that everyone knows what everyone is doing so that you don’t end up with the same round twice because some guy was too impatient for the first bar maid to finish pouring the pints.

Not only do you gain these valuable teamwork skills, but all of this is done under immense pressure. Team work skills and the ability to work under pressure? Sounds like the full package on a CV.

It’s a job you can loathe at times. It seems as though you’re getting paid far too little to be working far too hard. But at the end of it, you’re left with a plethora of skills to boast on your CV. Working in a bar makes you a fantastic communicator, it gives you numeracy and teamwork skills, as well as the ability to work under pressure and manage time effectively.

If you can remember a drink order for 15 people at 1:30 in the morning, whilst being told in the middle of another order by a drunk customer that you’re beautiful, then any job after that really will be a breeze.

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