ask chops

Do you have a job search question that you need answered? Send your questions to [email protected] We’ll feature answers to select questions and post them here in our “Ask CHOPS” column.

Length of Resume?

Q. How long should my resume be?

A. Typically your resume should not be longer than 2 pages, no matter how much experience you’ve had. A good rule of thumb is to go 10 years back, listing your most relevant experience first. The other non-related experience can be summarized at the end with just dates and position titles. You shouldn’t take up a lot of “real estate” on your resume with experience that does not relate to the job that you’re applying for. Employers typically scan your resume first to make sure you have the relevant experience that’s needed, so make sure that you highlight that experience in detail first.

Mulitple Interviews

Q. I have 3 interviews at restaurants next week, but the most important thing to me is the pay rate. Should I cancel the 2 interviews that are offering less money, or should I still go to all of the interviews?

A. I highly recommend that you attend all of the interviews to see what each restaurant has to offer. While salary is always a key component, it’s not everything. The overall environment, leadership, co-workers, opportunity for growth and other benefits can be just as important in the long run. If you only follow the money, you may find yourself job hopping every 6 months, which is never a good sign to employers. They want employees who are committed and willing to invest their time and talent, just as the restaurant is willing to invest their training and leadership. You should welcome any interview opportunities that are within realistic range of your cost of living requirements, as it’s an opportunity to learn more about the restaurants and meet new people in the industry. Networking is the key to career success.

Resume Follow-Up

Q. I sent my resume into a restaurant a week ago and haven’t heard back yet. Should I call them to follow-up, or wait for them to call?

A. If its been a week, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a call to follow-up. Keep in mind that during the holidays, restaurant hiring managers are extremely busy, and they may not have had time to call the candidates yet. At the very least, it will cause them to pull up your resume to take a second look at your background. If you are not able to reach them via phone, leave a message and let it be. If they are interested in you, they will contact you.

Career Change

Q. I’m currently an Administrative Assistant at a commercial real estate company, but I want to pursue my passion of cooking and become a chef one day. This would be a major career change for me and I’m not sure where to start. Can you help?

A. Yes, there are a lot of things to consider when making a career change, and it’s important to do your research. Talk to cooks and chefs and ask how they got started in the industry, what they like most about it and what they like least. It’s one thing to enjoy cooking at home, but it’s different when you’re doing it as a profession. Visit restaurants that have open kitchens and watch how they work. Visualize yourself doing that and ask yourself if that type of work will drive you or exhaust you. Make sure that the hours and salary will be conducive to your lifestyle as well. If you decide that this is the right career choice for you, then consider getting some formal training at a culinary school or training program. Find one that best suits your style of learning and gain the fundamentals that are needed to get started.

Counter Offer

Q. I just gave notice at my restaurant because I received a better offer elsewhere. My boss asked what the offer was and said he was willing to pay me more if I stayed. I’m tempted to stay because I need the money. What should I do?

A. Accepting a counter offer is never a good idea. For one, your employer or boss will know that you can be “bought”. Secondly, if they could’ve paid you that amount in the first place, they should’ve. Last of all, you are likely to burn bridges with the restaurant that offered you a new opportunity, as they will wonder if you were just using them to obtain a better offer at your current employer. Think back as to why you were open to other opportunities in the first place, and if you’re really ready to leave, then take action and don’t look back.

Job Fairs

Q. Should I attend job fairs, or are employers just collecting resumes at these events?

A. If you’re looking for a job, you should definitely attend any job fairs that are happening in your area. Job fairs have numerous employers who are there to promote their company and to find qualified candidates for their job openings. It’s the best opportunity to network with multiple employers in one setting. Go dressed to impress and be prepared to hand out your updated resume to employers that you are most interested in. Be sure to follow up after the job fair to ensure that you make a lasting impression.

Interview Questions

Q. What is a good question to ask at the end of an interview when the employer asks if I have any questions?

A. A good question to ask is, “why is this position open?” If they say that the person in that role just quit after 3 months and that the person before that left after 6 months, then that may indicate that they have a turnover problem. If they say that they just promoted someone, then that shows that there may be opportunity for growth. If they say that it’s a new position and that they are expanding, then that’s always a good sign! Once they tell you the answer, be sure to delve further. Remember that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you!

Salary History

Q. Can employers ask about my salary history?

A. As of Jan. 1, 2018, California employers will no longer be able to ask applicants about their current or previous salary or hourly pay rate, whether it be on an employment application form or during the interview process. In addition, employers must provide applicants with the pay scale for the job they are applying for if they request it. The new law expands upon the equal pay protection in California.

Objective or Summary?

Q. Should I include an Objective or a Summary on my resume?

A. Objectives are best used if you are an entry-level job seeker or if you are changing careers. The objective should clearly state what type of job you are looking for, and it should be tailored for each job that you apply for. A summary is best used when you have a lot of experience in the same field for the job that you are applying for. The summary should be brief, and it should highlight the experience that best qualifies you for the position you’re applying for. If written well, the summary can be the hook that gets the employer to call you for an interview.


Q: Should I include references with my resume?

A: While you should have a separate list of references prepared to hand to employers, you don’t need to include it when sending your initial resume. Unless it’s requested up front, employers don’t need to have access to your references until they have determined that you are a potential hire.