Is there a Chef, whether in the hunt for a job or not, who doesn’t think their CV could be a little better with some subtle surgery? If there are, then my guess is they account for a very small percentage of active chefs. I’ll pin my own colours to the mast right now and say that it’s always better to resist any temptation to doctor a CV or Resume. I’ll now spend the rest of this post justifying my very rigid and inflexible position on the matter. If you can’t be bothered reading to the end then it amounts to this,
a Chef’s CV should be an accurate and truthful record of that Chef’s professional life, to depart from fact, whether by omission or commission, is less than professional, so you shouldn’t do it, ever.
Your Chefs CV Should be The Truth
Now to the whys. Because it’s not truthful and being less than transparent about your culinary background indicates lack of confidence and gets you off to a bad start with prospective employers. – Even if you miss out on the “bad start” bit settle down and get used to the idea that it might very well bring about a bad end – Start as you mean to go on, you probably expect your employer to be truthful with you, in fact, if you’re like any chef I’ve ever dealt with, you’ll likely be very angry with them if they’re not. If you want to take the moral high ground later on it’s better to make sure you’re standing on terra firma first. Even if you get a job, with your CV “doctored,” you’re not home and dry, in fact you never will be. Downstream your relationship with your employer might hit a rocky patch and if they’ve done good due diligence on their own contracts they’ll pour over that CV of yours with a fine tooth comb, the same fine tooth comb they forgot to bring along the day they offered you the job. If you’re on the “right” type of contract they can then dismiss you. Not so clever after all? By being deceptive you could very well be setting yourself up for permanent lack of job security, which isn’t wise.
There May Be Trouble Ahead
That last narrative is an extreme, but still relevant, example and and most Chef CV “nips and tucks” are minor and it’s often the case that the consequences are too, that is when consequences do arise. Ask yourself this though, would you really like to have to explain later on why you left out one particular job, you know, the job you forget to mention on your CV? This one tends to arise occasionally and mostly it doesn’t happen from an overt, or at least not a malignant, attempt to deceive but rather because the chef had a two or three week spell somewhere they didn’t like or from which they had to leave for, say, personal reasons, a sick spouse or dying relative, which required a “leave of absence” from their new job. A leave of absence for which they felt they hadn’t yet accumulated enough professional capital. So to them leaving had more honour in it than looking for time off before everyone in the kitchen knew their name. The reasons are often this innocent but that might not be the way they will be interpreted later on.
When Innocence Appears Sinister
Let’s take that last example. There are very few Chefs who, starting a new job, have the presence of mind, only a couple of weeks into it, to ask for three weeks off to attend to some family crisis, perhaps even one abroad. So let’s say you find yourself in a similar situation. Later on, emergency over, you’re back looking for a new chef job, your CV is already complete, minus that most recent job, i.e. the one you didn’t stay in. What could be easier than to simply not bother to update your CV? It’s hard to find the motivation to update a CV with something that you think might work against you, isn’t it? So you leave it off and begin circulating the original CV and this, sooner or later, puts you back in a kitchen. However unless you were moving abroad it’s probably a kitchen in the same country, maybe even the same city; how long do you think it will be before you current employer hears that you had a “spell” working at Restaurant X? I’ll grant you nothing is for sure in this life, and they might never hear, but the chances are that somebody in your new job knows somebody in your old job and before long it filters back to your new employer. Will you be sacked for it? Perhaps not, maybe things are going very well and so the risk of being made walk the plank are very low, but at best you’ve just fallen in value and at worst you’ll be less trusted than you once were. For a fuller read on Chef Job length of stay see: Chefs – How Long Should You Stay in Your Job?
Honesty as Confident Gambit
The argument against the type of transparent disclosure I’m recommending Chefs adopt, with potential employers, is that it might go against them in the chef job interview. True, this can’t be ruled out. It depends on who you’re dealing with and how convincing your narrative is to this interviewer. If your reasons are convincing then this shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, done right, the conscious surrender of information that’s less than flattering can make you stand out in a good way. A lot of Chefs are at their worst in a job interview and come across as inauthentic or lacking in confidence; disclosing something like this can be seen as confident gambit which you can make work in your favour. Of course if your reasons aren’t convincing to begin with then your problems aren’t on your CV, they’re elsewhere.