Top 10 Resume Skills for Waitstaff (With Examples)

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated July 1, 2022 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated July 1, 2022

Published January 3, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

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Waitstaff serve food in restaurants, fill orders, make recommendations and provide excellent customer service. If you’re seeking a position as a waitstaff, you will want to list these skills prominently on your resume.

In this article, we discuss the top skills to list on a waitstaff resume and provide examples to help you write your own.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

What are waitstaff skills?

Waitstaff skills are those that are necessary to accurately take customer orders, safely handle food and provide exceptional customer service. These skills include a combination of hard and soft skills required to perform the job duties and ensure customer satisfaction.

Although hard skills are useful, soft skills such as customer service skills are important to your success. Some hard skills include operating point-of-sale systems, safe food handling procedures and the ability to count money and calculate change. Soft skills include communication, prioritizing or customer service.

Related: Customer Service Skills: Definitions and 17 Examples

Examples of waitstaff resume skills

When preparing a resume, there are several skills to consider that demonstrate your ability to perform the job duties. Skills to include on a waitstaff resume include:

  1. Point-of-sale systems

  2. Food safety

  3. Alcoholic beverage regulation

  4. Effective communication

  5. Active listening

  6. Positive language

  7. Problem-solving

  8. Patience

  9. Resilience

  10. Social perceptiveness

1. Point-of-sale systems

Experience with restaurant point-of-sale systems demonstrates the technical knowledge required to perform job duties as a server. Use of point-of-sale systems may include assigning occupants to tables, entering orders, submitting orders to the kitchen and processing payments. Although point-of-sale systems may vary between establishments, general knowledge may be transferrable between different systems.

2. Food safety

Food safety is an important part of the job duties as a server. This skill demonstrates knowledge of safe food handling procedures and your commitment to your customers’ health and wellbeing. It involves proper hygiene, careful interaction with food and utensils, cleaning and sanitation procedures and understanding company policies related to safe food handling. You can list this in the skills section of your resume, but it should also be present in your work experience.

3. Alcoholic beverage regulation

When applying for a waitstaff position that involves the sale of alcoholic beverages, it is important to know the local, state and federal regulations surrounding alcohol. This includes how to appropriately verify customer identification and age to ensure regulatory compliance. In the United States, the legal age to consume alcoholic beverages may vary from state to state, and some states and local jurisdictions may have additional regulations. Always check for applicable regulations in your city and state.

4. Effective communication

Having effective communication skills demonstrates the ability to clearly express ideas and information verbally or in writing in ways others can understand. It also includes confirming that others understand information as you intended. This skill is important to ensure customers understand the menu, beverage pairing options and available food substitutions.

It is also important to ensure you can record customer orders accurately, which may require requesting clarification, summarizing or paraphrasing orders to confirm they are correct. Finally, effective communication abilities ensure you are able to successfully convey customer orders to kitchen staff and address any questions they may have about orders.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Active listening

Active listening is the ability to listen to others with the intent to understand and without being distracted by external or internal factors. This includes asking questions for clarification, summarizing and paraphrasing to ensure you thoroughly understand the customer’s requests. This skill is important as a server because it requires the ability to focus your attention on your customers without being derailed by other noise or distractions in the establishment. 

Additionally, servers are often multitasking. Active listening skills allow you to focus your full attention on the customer you’re serving without being distracted by other open tasks that require your attention. It also communicates respect for the customer and that you care about providing the best experience by actively engaging with them to meet their requests.

Read more: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Positive language

Communicating with positive language includes explaining to customers what you are able to do for them. It includes the ability to frame statements and communicate information in a positive way. For example, if a customer asks for a specific substitution that the restaurant doesn’t have, offer available alternatives instead of simply telling the customer you can’t fill their request.

This is important to convey a service orientation and communicate that your goal is to help customers. Demonstrating service orientation through positive language may help improve a customer’s experience and ensure their satisfaction.

7. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is the ability to find solutions that are mutually agreeable for the customer and the establishment. This includes recognizing that a problem exists, identifying available solutions and providing the customer with options to resolve the issue.

Examples of problem-solving as a server may include offering options for food substitutions or customizing orders to meet the customer’s dietary needs. It may also include collaborating with a manager to offer discounts or gift cards for return visits in the event a customer isn’t satisfied with their experience. Problem-solving skills require working with others to identify the best solution for everyone and create a positive experience in a challenging situation.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

8. Patience

This skill involves continued support and engagement with customers by providing each customer with the same level of service and attention. This skill is important as a server to help customers understand the menu, make order selections and accommodate customer requests. Patience also involves maintaining a calm demeanor even when you are busy and have other things that require your attention. 

Although a server needs to multitask and move quickly, having patience will allow you to remain calm and give each customer your full attention. Having patience with others communicates that you value their needs and time as much as you value your own. It may help you build trust and respect with your customers,  and encourage return visits to the establishment.

9. Resilience

Resilience is the ability to provide quality service without internalizing the problems or attitudes of other people or being negatively affected by difficult situations. This is an important skill to maintain quality service when serving a high volume of customers or when working with difficult customers. Waitstaff interact with different people experiencing different situations in their lives. As a server, it is important to create a positive experience for your customers, but some situations may be out of your control. 

Resilience is an important skill to ensure a challenging situation with one customer does not negatively affect the positive experience of another customer. Resilience is also necessary to effectively multitask in the fast-paced environment of a busy restaurant. It allows you to juggle multiple tasks without succumbing to feelings of overwhelm or burnout. Finally, strong resilience helps you maintain a positive attitude and know that you can create a positive outcome when faced with negative people or situations.

10. Social perceptiveness

Social perceptiveness involves the awareness of the reactions of others and the ability to understand why others react the way they do. This skill is important to gauge customers’ satisfaction and anticipate their needs. Social perceptiveness is the skill that allows servers to notice when a customer may need their attention and assess their reactions including their satisfaction with the meal, beverage orders and the general experience. The ability to perceive and understand others’ reactions allows you to adjust your service style as needed to ensure the best experience for the customer.

Sample waitstaff skills resume section

When listing waitstaff skills on your resume, include a section to list specific skills, but also include experiences in your work history that demonstrate how you have used these skills.

Waitstaff skills in a resume skills section

Technical Skills: Point-of-Sale Systems | Food Safety Regulations | Cold Dish Preparation

Additional Skills: Customer Service | Communication | Attention to Detail

Waitstaff skills in a resume work experience section

Unique Fine Dining
Server | Jan. 2018 – Sep. 2019

Converted first-time customers to returning customers and increased customer return rate by 5% through friendly, reliable and accurate service.

Submitted customer orders to the kitchen using the restaurant’s point-of-sale system, prepared cold orders such as salads and appetizers and reviewed customer orders for accuracy to ensure they were prepared as requested.

Practiced proper food and beverage handling techniques in accordance with company policy as well as local, state and federal regulations.

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