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For Restaurant Servers and Managers - Start a New Career in the Administrative Field

Updated on June 5, 2016

Start a New Career as an Administrative Assistant

Here are some tips for restaurant servers and managers looking for a career change. The Administrative field is a great way to get your foot in the door with larger corporations; where you will most likely be able to enjoy a 9-5 lifestyle, benefits, paid time off, paid holidays off, and the ability to move on to better paying jobs.

Here are just a few example paths for a career in the Administrative field.

  1. Receptionist > Administrative Assistant > Executive Assistant
  2. Receptionist > Sales Administrator > Sales Coordinator
  3. Receptionist > Sales Administrator > Marketing Coordinator
  4. Administrative Assistant > Reporting Administrator > Reporting Analyst
  5. Administrative Assistant > Operations Coordinator > Operations Specialist

If you have little to no business skills, including software skills, you will need to look into acquiring some basic training. Here's a list of the basic software skills you will need to be proficient in before applying.

  1. MS Word
  2. MS Excel
  3. MS PowerPoint
  4. MS Outlook
  5. MS SharePoint / Office 365

It's simple to get started with brushing up on these skills or learning them from scratch. Microsoft offers free online tutorials for their products. In addition, check out the local community college for continuing education courses. There are plenty of beginner and intermediate courses for learning these basic office productivity applications.

If you really want to give yourself an edge, consider taking the Microsoft test to become certified in any of these applications. This tells an employer that you have mastered the software and will be a valuable asset.

So now that you understand a career change will require at least some basic training, what other skills can you bring to the Administrative field from your restaurant background? Below is a list of "soft skills" you likely already posses from having worked in restaurants. These skills are valuable in every industry.

  1. Customer Service / Customer Focused
  2. Relationship Building / People Skills
  3. Confident / Able to speak at all levels within an organization
  4. Able to Multitask
  5. Organized
  6. Ability to Learn New Information Quickly
  7. "Can-do" Attitude
  8. Positive Attitude / Warm and Friendly

Once you have acquired some software training, it's time to create an awesome resume that highlights your computer skills, your history working with people, and your multitasking skills. From my experience the best assets you can bring to a new job in the corporate world are a willingness to learn, a willingness to go above and beyond, and a warm and friendly attitude. If you are starting out in a receptionist role, these traits, combined with a very professional demeanor, good written and verbal communication skills, and a solid understanding of the importance of being on time and dependable, will take you a very long way. Former restaurant employees have a lot to learn about the corporate world, so here are a few additional tips to remember:

  • Be on time every day
  • Be dependable
  • Be willing to learn
  • Be willing to take on new tasks with a positive attitude
  • Less is more - meaning think twice before becoming "fast friends" with your co-workers. This is the norm in the restaurant business, but in the general business world, it's better to be a bit more reserved and learn what the company culture is like before offering too much personal information.
  • Smile, be friendly and warm to people you encounter, both co-workers and customers
  • Learn as much as you can - like being a server, there is a lot to learn and starting in an entry level admin job offers tons of opportunities for on the job training.

So what are the potential pros and cons of switching from a career as a server or manager in the food business to an Administrative role? Here are just a few:

Pros and Cons of Switching Careers

Notes About the Cons
No Nights, No Weekends
Have to Get Up Early
(You get used to waking up earlier.)
Typically a Great Benefit Package
Must Learn New Skills
(Totally worth the benefits.)
Paid Time Off (Sick and Vacation)
Possible Commuting
(This part stinks.)
Paid Holidays Off
Might Need New Clothes
(The dress code is usually not suits.)
Opportunity for Advancement
Learn Valuable New Skills
Professional Environment

What Will I Earn as an Administrative Assistant?

As a server you are used to earning tips on a daily basis, even if you are working in an establishment where you receive a weekly paycheck instead of cash. So, you know how much you average per hour of work. As a manager, you are likely paid an hourly rate or an annual salary. In order to compare what you are making in the restaurant business, you will need to do some math - but it's also a good idea to consider other aspects besides compensation - like benefits, quality of life, and future career opportunities.

Using a salary wizard like the one below is a great way to determine if a change is worth considering. For example, the average hourly rate for an Administrative Assistant - Level I in Atlanta, GA is approximately $18, and the average salary is just below $40,000 (As of last update.)

Some of you teetering on the fence, especially servers, will say - "But I make $150 a night!" This is where you will have to factor in other pros / cons - mainly the opportunity to climb the ladder and be in a position to earn even more in higher level roles. For example, the median salary in the US for an Executive Assistant is approximately $60,000. (As of last update.)


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