Canadian Pizza Magazine

Resumés aren’t enough: The Pizza Chef

Diana Cline   

Features Business and Operations Staffing diana cline hiring hiring strategies resumes The Pizza Chef

Resumés aren’t enough

It seems like we’re always recruiting more staff, mainly because the restaurant business is not a business of one.

You need a great team to meet the expectations of your existing customers. Having a couple of extra staff members on the schedule helps to mitigate times when someone calls in sick, and gives you the extra room for everyone to request time off. I am very fortunate to have a really great team at Diana’s Cucina and Lounge, but it doesn’t happen without purposeful systems: from recruiting to interview processes, to training – each step is just as important as the previous one.  

The restaurant industry is often a young person’s first job. I see a lot of resumés with no work experience, no volunteer work and no training relevant to what we’re looking for in a job applicant. Some have highlights of their education or sports accolades, but overall, this doesn’t tell me what I really need to know. Also, there’s no standard format for resumés these days. I could look through dozens and dozens of resumés: the information provided is not formatted the same, and typically there’s no indication of the applicant’s availability, their requested pay, amount of hours per week, or their personality.  

My time, much like that of all independent owner operators, is at an all-time premium. I’ve learned through experience that I shouldn’t be setting up interviews with everyone who drops off a resumé. That might be fine to get a “McJob,” but it’s not enough for a position in my company. When someone emails or drops off a resumé, I send them an application kit.  

What’s an application kit? It’s one of the systems we employ at Diana’s. I wrote three pages about what an employee can expect from our company and what, in turn, we expect from them. I wrote a little about our company, who we are and our goals in the community and in business. In addition to these three pages are four more pages of requested information from the applicant. Some of the information we request to be filled out in these additional four pages may or may not be on the applicant’s resume. I don’t care if it’s there or not. What I want to see is whether the applicant can follow the very first thing I ask of them, which is to read and fill out the application kit.  

You would be surprised what you can learn from an application process like this. Eighty per cent of the people who drop off or email their resumés never bother to fill out the application and submit it. This is good news, because, if a potential new team member cannot be bothered to do the very first thing that’s asked of them, there’s a good chance they won’t want to bother doing the majority of what will be required of them on the job: “What?! You expect me to do dishes? I don’t want to do that. I only want to make the pizzas.” “What? You want me to sweep the floor? I don’t want to do that either.”

This portion of our system has saved us countless dollars and grievances on the wrong hires, even when someone completes the application kit. Some candidates can’t be bothered to research the very basic things about my company, or the provincial liquor laws; that is, someone under the legal age to serve alcohol applies as a server, and indicates they expect a wage of $18 per hour. Those ones are particularly funny. Or the ones who are only available to work during the times that we are not actually open for business. Those are pretty good too.  

I can’t tell you how many times someone who has submitted their resumé responds to the request to fill out the application kit with “It’s on my resumé, read my resumé.” This makes clear they didn’t even read the application kit, and not only are they showing me they have little motivation to work in my business, but also that they think I’m going to do the work for them.  

The truth is that if people think completing an application is too much work, then working in our industry is way over their threshold. And I need to know that before we begin their training at $11.25 an hour, before we give them a uniform, before we add them to payroll, etc., etc. In fact, I need to know that before I bring them in for an interview – or else I would be a full-time interviewer. A business is only as strong as its weakest employee and every business needs systems to weed out the slackers from the doers and the workers.

Diana Cline is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year, three-time winner of “Canada’s Best Pizza Chef” at international pizza competitions, a judge for international pizza culinary competitions in Las Vegas, Italy and France, and a partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their business effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis. For more details, contact her at

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