Not Just a Job: Building Career Focus Among Restaurant Professionals

Not Just a Job: Building Career Focus Among Restaurant Professionals
December 27, 2020 Susan Diepen

Not Just a Job: Building Career Focus Among Restaurant Professionals

There is a world of difference between a job and a career. A job is just a way to earn a paycheck, a “one-off,” temporary way to meet basic needs until something better comes along.

A career, on the other hand, means the positions someone takes are about more than the paycheck. They are about taking meaningful steps along a longer trajectory toward accomplishing goals and achieving potential.

Too often, positions in the restaurant industry—particularly those on the front line—are seen simply as jobs. And the employees holding them are engaged in what LinkedIn’s career expert Blair Decembrele calls “career sleepwalking,” where people are just going through the motions.

When a restaurant’s team members have a career-oriented mindset, the restaurant is more likely to prosper, and its guests tend to be happier. Why? Because restaurant professionals are committed to growth, success, and constantly improving their skills.

“You can help awaken your employees and energize them by showing them how to transform their job into a career.”

Provide your employees with the following support to start them on a more professional path:


Career professionals have goals about where they want to go. They create a road map with specific destinations. You can help your employees by making them aware of career opportunities within your operation and, if appropriate, the larger corporate organization. Make a point to ask them about their short-term goals and how those can build toward reaching their long-term goals.


A professional networks and makes connections in their chosen industry. Mentors can play key roles in helping professionals—young or old—learn the ins and outs of an industry, make suggestions for overcoming challenges, and connect them with others who excel in restaurant careers. Connect your employees with mentors. Better yet, be a mentor.


A crucial part of an employee transitioning from treating their position as a career step rather than a job is receiving feedback that helps them improve their skills and become successful. Make sure you not only provide regular evaluations, but give people encouragement and feedback informally as well.


A restaurant professional is committed to lifelong learning and keeping up with a constantly changing industry. They make a practice of always improving their skills not only for the position they are currently working, but also to learn the skills of the next stop on their career road map. Provide your employees with formal and informal training. There are a wealth of resources to train restaurant professionals. Make use of them and make them a regular part of your operation’s activities.


Certification is the ultimate recognition of an employee’s professionalism. It demonstrates they have the experience, skills and knowledge of a true restaurant professional. And it shows they meet industry established standards.

ServSuccess is a career development offering for the restaurant and hospitality industry developed by the National Restaurant Association to help attract, upskill and retain talent. It includes an array of online learning suites, courses, interactive study guides and professional certification exams designed to enhance and validate the competencies and knowledge of working industry professionals. It helps employees live their dreams, which gives them a reason to stay at your operation.

When you adopt a program such as ServSuccess in your operation, you send an important message to your employees. You tell them they are professionals and that you are there to help them transform their jobs into careers they can be proud of.