5 transferable skills you learn in a waiting staff job

5 transferable skills you learn in a waiting staff job

Rachael Langley our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 13 August 2020

There's more to being a waiting staff than simply delivering orders. To truly serve up success, you need to have a wide range of skills – but the good news is that you can learn each of these on the job.

Whilst our kitchen assistants and head chefs are behind the scenes preparing the orders our waiting staff are providing excellent customer service, delivering those orders and most importantly taking everything in their stride.

We couldn’t deliver the service that we do without our waiters and waitresses, so you could say they bring a lot to the table. But what do they gain? We’re going to bring you the top five transferable skills you learn in a waiting staff job:

The ultimate team player

Teamwork is dream work, there’s no I in team, many hands make light work – we’ve all heard expressions like these about the power of teamwork but have you ever stopped and wondered how working in a team can boost your career?

The teamwork skills you’ll pick up in this role are truly unique. The O’Neills waiting staff come together with their fellow waiters and waitresses as well as kitchen assistants, head chefs and general managers. So, not only do you improve your peer-to-peer teamwork skills but you learn to work alongside people in different roles, making you the ultimate team player.


In the restaurant industry, while the chefs are back mastering their chopping skills the waiting staff are in the front polishing their listening skills. Customer service can be unpredictable at times – our waiting staff at Harvester are sure to have a reel of stories when they had to think on their feet and more times than not it’s the active listening skills that have saved the day for them.

This may sound simple enough but it is an essential skill to refine because most people are inefficient listeners. While the average person only remembers 50% of the information that they hear, in a waiting staff job this is simply not an option – think of all the guests who would miss out on their desserts!

Crisis hero

There’s no denying that working as a waiter or waitress teaches you how to always deliver. In this restaurant job, you’ll learn that one wrong order can lead to pandemonium in the kitchen – preparing you for the unexpected and giving you the skills to manage each and every situation that’s thrown at you. Waiting staff learn early on how to manage all possible situations, whether it’s tracking down a missing drink or talking customer through a more serious crisis.

Unbreakable resilience

Resilience is all about how you bounce back from a situation. First waiters and waitresses master how to get a handle on a problem and next they learn how to recover from them. Many little things can go wrong in a shift for a waiting staff member. Have you spilt a drink in a customer’s lap? We’re happy to break it to you that you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.

Luckily, these experiences will teach you the ropes and lay the building blocks for an unbreakable level of resilience – this is a stand-out skill to have no matter which job you move onto next.

Crystal-clear communication

Communication is key. How many times have we heard this? We all know how important it is to have good communication at work and that’s why most jobs list it as an essential skill. In fact, when managers and employees were asked to rank key leadership skills, communication secured a spot in the top five.

Every waiter and waitress knows all too well that each customer needs a different communication style. So, if you stay in the restaurant industry or decide to change up your career you’ll have a transferable skill that will help you communicate with people from all walks of life.

Come and work for Mitchells and Butlers

Do you want to become a part of a 44,000 strong work family? If you’re passionate about food and want to build your career in a friendly workplace then a waiting staff job at M&B might just be the right fit for you. And with these five transferable skills, you have the right ingredients for a successful career, whichever way your steer it. 

Make sure to sign up to job alerts so your the first to know  about our next waiting staff or bar staff opportunity.


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When you think of a pub and restaurant job you probably first imagine a chef in their white hat – or toque if we’re being fancy. But of course, there are also the waiters and waitresses, bar staff and general managers who are delivering excellent customer service whilst busying themselves behind the scenes too.To help you decide which restaurant job is right for you we’ve put together the different ingredients for success you’ll need for each role. Read on to discover which exciting career you could carve out for yourself:Kitchen assistantA kitchen assistant’s role boils down to food prep and keeping serving areas clean and safe. Sounds straightforward but the day-to-day tasks will change often enough to keep you on your toes. Whether you find yourself working in a trendy city bar like All Bar One, a well-loved Toby Carvery or a restaurant like Miller & Carter, known for their signature ‘steak experience’, a typical day as a kitchen assistant may also involve taking deliveries and organising the stock room.In this support role, you’ll pick up tips and tricks from chefs who’ve been in the business most of their lives so it’s a great stepping stone to work your way up to more senior restaurant jobs. With little culinary experience needed, a kitchen assistant job is a great chance to learn the ropes and feed off the atmosphere behind the scenes of a restaurant.If you’re a good team player, can listen and follow instructions carefully and have a passion for food then a kitchen assistant job could be just right for you.Head chefWith some years of experience under your belt where you’ve proven that you not only know your way around the kitchen but shown have strong leadership skills, you’re ready to climb to the next spot on the chef’s career ladder. The main responsibilities of a head chef job are to oversee the daily operations of the kitchen and lead your team to thrive in any situation.Most chefs learn on the job, so formal qualifications aren’t always needed to show you can stand the heat in the kitchen, but they do strengthen expertise and can help you climb the ranks faster. Instead, a strong skill-set is much more important if you want to prove yourself as a head chef – with leadership and delegation being the most essential. Aside from this, you’ll need excellent culinary skills, a good knowledge of produce and top-notch time management.The Office of National Statistics revealed in 2017 that women only accounted for 17% of head chef jobs and we’re working hard to tip this scale. This is why at M&B we’re proud to promote that hospitality is not just a man’s business.Waiting staffAs a waiting staff, it’s ultimately your job to keep guests happy, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In this customer service role you’ll pick up crystal clear communication skills and learn how to handle any crisis like a pro. These are just a few of the 5 transferrable skills you learn in a waiting staff job.If you love going the extra mile for customers, thrive in a fast-paced environment or want to build your self-confidence then a waiting staff job could be a great career move for you. But in case you’re still undecided read our 10 stories that every waiting team understands.Bar staffIf you’re someone who is passionate about customer service and building relationships then look no further than a bar staff job. Small talk with the customers is just as much a part of the job as pouring the pints and shaking the cocktails. Plus, the different people who walk through the door each day are a chance for you to really mix things up.Like those in most restaurant jobs, bar staff are experts are multitasking. While keeping up the conversation you’ll need to remember the customer’s order, keep tabs on who’s next and make sure the bar is stocked up. A bar staff job can be challenging at times but it’s one of the most fun and lively jobs to develop your resilience and organisation skills.Hear from some of M&B’s very own employees what’s the best thing about being part of a bar team.General managerDid you know that 9 in 10 general managers working in a restaurant joined the industry in an entry-level role? Climbing the career ladder gives a deep insight into the workings of a restaurant, something which can be hard to understand without experience in the industry.General managers in restaurants are responsible for keeping a lid on everything. On the surface, a general manager’s role is to bring the team together while ensuring quality control and customer satisfaction. Behind the scenes, you’ll be responsible for recruiting new team members, overseeing their training, organising deliveries, being aware of new and changing regulations, budget control and keeping your team safe by enforcing high health and safety standards.For some, a general manager role is the ultimate restaurant job because their team feels like a second family. You’re in charge of keeping team morale high but it’s also your duty to watch over everyone’s safety, meaning this job can bring you a great sense of pride and satisfaction.Learn more about a career in the restaurant and pub industryAt Mitchells and Butlers, a restaurant job is more than just a job – it’s a career. It’s our goal to find talented and enthusiastic people who want to grow with our brand and share in our values. Whichever pub and restaurant job you choose we’ll make sure you feel a valued member of the team and get recognised for what you do.Find out more about the rewarding careers we can offer you at Mitchells and Butlers by browsing our kitchen jobs here or explore our other roles.

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To help you decide which restaurant job is right for you we’ve put together the different ingredients for success you’ll need for each role

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Steph  Baker


Steph Baker

Steph  Baker


Steph Baker


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