I hear from a lot of people asking for help in their careers. Sometimes they can’t find the job that they think can really elevate their careers – not just financially, but with new opportunities that will continue to move things forward. Other times, it’s as simple as people not being clear with what it is they are looking for. Below are 6 tips I’d give to anyone looking to really grow their culinary career – in addition to those, you’re selling yourself short, if you don’t at least give my 10 day chef brand building challenge a try.

Here are the 6 Tips I would give anyone that is looking to move their career in a better direction, faster:

  1. Be incredibly clear on what it is you want to do with your career: Maybe you love the vegan food movement and you want to join a local company or organization that is aligned with those beliefs. Maybe you love seafood – if you love seafood, why would you get a job with a fine dining steakhouse, unless you were working the fish station? If you don’t know what it is you want to do, you need to start putting feelers out there, and the sooner you can figure out what it is you want to do, the sooner you can start looking for the right types of jobs that align with that.
  2. Be willing to take a pay cut in order to get the job or opportunity of your dreams: One of the mistakes a lot of culinary school graduates make is that upon graduation, they start looking for jobs, and automatically assume that the BEST opportunity equates to the opportunity that pays the most or starts them out at the highest rank. The problem with this is that often, this leads down a path of mediocrity, or best case scenario, just average. If you are finishing culinary school and you have the opportunity to be the executive chef somewhere, and haven’t put in your dues somewhere else, becoming the head chef of a company isn’t usually the way to go. Instead, find the best possible chef or company that you can work for, one that is incredibly successful, and work your way up the ranks. If you look at the incredible chef, Thomas Keller, you look at all of the people that have worked under him – they had talent, no doubt, but they easily could have gotten a higher paying job that would have made the executive chef of a restaurant faster than with working with him. Instead, they put in their dues, and put their career down the right path – the path that would inevitably lead them to success, because of the fact that they were surrounding themselves with such stellar talent, and then they could also put The French Laundry on their resume, and it would instantly attract the right kind of eyes for the next opportunity.
  3. Staging Really Works: A lot of people think it’s crazy to work for someone for free, and if it’s not the right opportunity, then I would absolutely agree with them. But, if you were to stage for a great chef (essentially work for free for a certain amount of time to gain knowledge and experience), why wouldn’t you do that? So, if you have a job that you don’t really like that much, it’s getting stale and just uninteresting and you feel like your career isn’t moving in the speed that you would like, find a chef that you can work for as a stage, maybe two nights a week for free. You’ll learn about a bunch, you will have something great to put on your resume, and after a few months, if you are doing a stellar job, when a full time job opens up, one that does pay, you can slide right in.
  4. Leverage The Tools: We’ve been gifted some pretty amazing tools to use that help us to connect with people — like-minded individuals and potential customers who might appreciate what we have to say. Sure, you can use the, ‘build it and they will come’, model, which works, and using social media ad targeting to discover new audiences can be huge, but on top of that is digging and creating the grassroots conversation with people by discovering them in places like places like LinkedIn, Twitter search, Instagram, Facebook, and yes, of course Medium (tags, etc.), among others. BUT, connect with people, not with intentions of making a sale, or even hoping to persuade to check out your work, but rather, in order to lay the groundwork for a relationship. Then, when the time is right, they’ll come across your work organically, or if they don’t, you can ‘ask’ with confidence, because you’ve created a relationship, not just a sales transaction. versus one that is predicated on a sales pitch. The only way to get to this place though, is to put in the time and the effort, and to actually care — not just pretend.
  5. Networking: Yes, through the various online tools mentioned above, but far greater than that, is networking face-to-face, in a very human way. Yes, it’s easier to tweet back and forth or chat over email, but nothing replaces connecting with someone face-to-face — a hand shake, looking someone in the eye. Find industry events and other ways that allow you to connect with individuals and build actual relationships with like-minded individuals. Do it enough, be generous enough with your time and I promise you, it will come back around and people will start to notice you.
  6. Be the Most Unique Version of Yourself: What a cliché, but it’s true — figure out how you can best leverage who you are, your strengths and your story, in order to create content or an angle that’ll resonate with your ideal audience. This invites them to be a part of who you are and what you have to offer the world. So instead of doing just what the other guys do, but you’re able to offer it just a little cheaper, discover what it is that makes you stand out – your product, your work, your humanity. We are sick of seeing the same exact thing over and over again. Find what it is that will make people want to connect with you and your perspective and stick to your guns. Ride that to the bank, and invite the world to come along for the ride.

      WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO ADD?

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