Use Your Multilingual Skills to Land a Great Restaurant Job
The ability to speak, read and write another language is a desirable one to employers, especially in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, the owners of America’s 935,000 restaurants estimate that up to 30% of their business comes from tourists, many of whom do not speak English well or at all.
Bilingual Restaurant Job Hotspots
Throughout Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, tourism and dining entertainment industries are booming and contribute billions to the economy each year. While travelers from any corner of the globe can be found traveling the countryside, there are certain areas that see travel from one or two countries as the majority of their visitors.
For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports that 20.3% of the overnight visitors to the United States in 2000 were from Mexico. Add to that figure the 35 million Hispanic people already living in America; there is a huge demand for restaurant employees bilingual in Spanish and English.
Working visas allow employees to travel the world while gaining valuable experience in the restaurant industry. You may one day find yourself working beside a Japanese chef or German hostess. In highly populated tourist areas, it is not uncommon to see people of many different nationalities all working together under one roof, sometimes unable to even understand each other! The one employee or supervisor who acts as translator is a major asset to the success of the restaurant.
What Your Future Employer is Looking For
Restaurant owners and managers understand the need for bilingual and multilingual employees to act as a liaison, not only with customers but between staff members as well. Greg Ryall, Executive Sous Chef at the Crowne Plaza in Ottawa, Canada, has first hand experience working in a bilingual restaurant with a diverse staff. “We have restaurant patrons visit from around the globe. We look for servers and hostesses who can speak and read at least two languages fluently to help us better serve our international clientele.”
Servers and bartenders aren’t the only restaurant employees who benefit from multilingualism. Ryall’s kitchen staff also come from varied backgrounds and speak an assortment of languages. “Because we are so close to Quebec, many of our cooks and kitchen staff are bilingual, speaking both French and English.” He went on to explain the importance of good communication in the kitchen, saying “Having a staff who understand each other and work well together as a result is a necessity.”
Ryall’s personal experience working at the Manoir Richilieu in a predominantly French area in Quebec taught him the importance of mastering a second language. Although his knowledge of French was limited when he accepted his position as Sous Chef, he quickly learned the language in order to communicate effectively with the staff he supervised on a daily basis. “Supervising staff who do not speak your language is a near impossible task,” he says. “If we have a supervisory job or training opportunity available with two candidates of equal talent applying, the one who is multilingual has a huge advantage.”
Use Your Language Skills to Win Your Dream Restaurant Job
If you would like to work in a certain geographic area or in a specific hotel, find out if they are seeking bilingual employees with the ability to speak a certain language. Or, if you are already fluent in a second language, apply to restaurants who serve clients of that culture.
Learning a new language is easier than you may think, especially with the home study audio and written courses now widely available on the internet. Some might enjoy the classroom setting in a night class, where you can interact and converse with other students. Of course, the best way to polish your language skills is to immerse yourself in an environment where the language you are learning is spoken often.
Have your language skills featured prominently on your resume, including the level at which you speak, read and write each language. Be honest… your employer will be relying on you to converse with their clients and other staff in your second language, so don’t be caught saying something silly!