What are the top jobs in a pub and how do I get there?

Published: 07 Feb 2018

At independent or individual sites, the two top positions in the pub sector are the general manager and the head chef.

Below, Steve Linzner, the director of EL8 Recruitment who specialises in recruitment for gastro pubs, restaurants, and hotels, explains how to get that dream job.

Head chefs

Head chefs come in two types now. You have one that is more of a kitchen manager, who follows branded menus, and are driven by cost control and delivering the same standard of food to a menu speck, against what is a creative head chef.

A creative head chef is able to create their own dishes and put them on the menu.

The kitchen managers will progress a lot quicker because they are process driven individuals, so they are people who will come into a branded kitchen, follow the process, and they will complete the requirements needed. And, the better they get at it, the quicker they get promoted. Starting from the bottom, a lot will come in as a kitchen porter, or a commis chef, and then move up to a chef de partie, to a sous chef, to a head chef or kitchen manager.

Creative head chefs are generally the ones that have gone through a more formal training, so they would have started out at a catering college, and then they would go into generally a more higher profile establishment so they may go into something that has rosettes.

Again, the path is similar, so they would be a commis chef, and then move up to a chef de partie, potentially a junior sous chef - there’s probably an extra stage in there - to a sous chef to a head chef.

I would say in the first scenario, for kitchen managers, you can go from starting to kitchen manager within four or five years. But, to be a more creative or rosette driven chef, you are probably looking at more eight to ten years to get to that level. Which is still relatively quick compared to many industries.

General managers

A lot of the people that we deal with, they fall into the industry and start out at a very part time level. They could start with big chains and join a management training programme. And then they get to an assistant manager level.

The quickest way of progressing is to move around in different companies. From assistant manager to a deputy manager, you could spend anywhere from six to 18 months to get there. It can move really quickly.

The hospitality sector is trying to become a lot more professional, so there are a lot more courses available now, I think for the pub side, it is more personality led.

Pubs recruit their general managers not on the qualifications they have, but the way they present themselves and come across.

Pubs are very different to restaurants and hotels, because in a pub you have no idea who is going to walk into your business, no idea how busy you will be that day, and very seasonally and weather led.

They need people that can adapt. People that are engaging, friendly, and have an approachable personality. Those are the ones that seem to do very well in the pub sector.

Regional managers

As with any recruitment process, the more senior the position, the less opportunities there are. You tend to get a split when it gets to general manager level of those who want to follow an operation career path, and those that want to be entrepreneurial and have their own business.

You have an owner operator scenario, and an operational manager overseeing five to 20 venues. The bigger the company the more opportunities there are at ops level. But, the higher the competition, because you are up against people who are within the same business and external. It's quite hard to make that jump, and I think there is a different skill set required when you make that move from pub management to operational management.

To be a general manager in a pub is about having personality, it's about character, it's not about qualifications. But, then when you are responsible for five to 10 general managers, you have to be a little bit more figure driven, you need to be more on the communication written and verbal, and that maybe is where the education does come in into the employers thinking.

Why it's a career

Pubs over the past 10 years have had a huge, radical change in terms of employment. I think there is still a preconceived idea of walking into a pub and you have one man and his dog sat on a bar stool, and that is so far removed from what they are now.

I think probably the biggest thing to watch at this moment in the pub industry is that there a number of new groups coming into the market as a result of the free of tie arrangement that has been enforced. So I think the pub sector at the moment is really exciting, because we are seeing a lot of entrepreneurs that aren't just having one site, but are taking over venues from those long established lease companies. And, it is creating a lot more opportunity out there for people that want to progress up the ranks quickly.

Daniel Davies, chief executive of CPL Training Group on getting that dream job.

“A career in this industry is rewarding, but it doesn’t come without hard work and dedication. The result of heavy regulation means that anyone in a management position has gone through extensive compliance training.

"Whether it’s gaining a personal licence or a food safety qualification, I would urge anyone new to the industry to welcome any training that comes your way. Where possible, you should actively seek more opportunities to aid your development, too. For example, you might want to learn the ins and outs of cellar management, profit and loss, or social media.

"There are so many training opportunities available once you get a foothold in the industry. An interest in personal growth doesn’t go unnoticed. By demonstrating an eagerness to take on responsibility, it singles you out for progression, and companies will only support you in your on-going development.”


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