Resume critique, please (getting into brewing)
As my wife is (finally) completing her Master's degree this semester and will be working this fall, I will be free to pursue other interests - namely breaking into the brewing business. I live near Philadelphia and will soon start shopping my resume around looking for a post as an assistant brewer. The problem I have is since I was in the Air Force, then when we moved back home I got a job in the family business, I have never written a resume, never had a job interview, nothing. I have a million questions and I was hoping you guys could help me out.
First off I am going to attach a copy of my resume and cover letter to the bottom of this post. I ask if anyone has the time, please read it over and give me any comments. I welcome anything everyone has to say, but I do have a couple of specific questions:
1. Is it worth mentioning places won in homebrew contests, or do you just look at it and say "another punk who think's he's hot because he got a third place in the state fair"?
2. Should I play up my experience in my current job, namely commercial HVAC service and installation? My thought was, given how critical temperature control is in every aspect of brewing, it'd be useful to have a person who was both a brewer and a refrigeration/HVAC expert on hand at all times. Or am I just wasting valuable resume space going into needless detail?
Also, I have a few questions about when I go to shop this resume around to brewpubs and breweries:
1. Whom do I talk to? Do I ask for the head brewer, the owner of the brewpub, the personnel specialist (if one exists)? I would assume the brewer gets final say in his assistant, no?
2. I have noticed those in the craft brewing business are pretty casual - should the same also apply to dressing for an interview? Polo shirt and khakis OK or should I break out the suit?
That's all I can think of for now. Thanks a million for any help you can give me.
My name is Darel Matthews and I have been an avid homebrewer for seven years now, since my wife bought me my first starter kit for Christmas. In that time I have grown to love the process of brewing beer and would like to gain a foothold in the professional brewing industry as a brewer’s assistant.
I have extensive homebrewing experience in virtually every beer style (100+ batches, 40+ all-grain, several awards in competition), I am also a BJCP Certified beer judge, and I have a Bachelor's degree from Penn State and six years as an Air Force officer under my belt. Given my unique combination of education, leadership/managerial experience, and extensive mechanical know-how with regards to electrical devices and controls, HVAC, plumbing and refrigeration, I think I have a lot to offer a brewery looking to take on someone for an entry-level brewing position.
Attached is my resume which outlines in greater detail my education and experience.
Thanks very much for any information or help you can give me.
Darel F. Matthews
Captain, US Air Force (separated)
Aug 1993 – May 1998 - BA, Political Science, Penn State University, State College, PA
• Dual minor in History and Military Studies
Oct 1998 – Feb 1999 - Graduate, Undergraduate Space and Missile Training, Vandenberg AFB, CA
• Introduction to satellite command and control, orbital mechanics, spacelift operations, classified handling and missile operations
Oct 1998 – May 1999 - Graduate, Initial Qualification Training, Minuteman ICBM, Vandenberg AFB, CA
• In-depth training in the operation, maintenance and security of the Minuteman III missile system
Dec 2005 - Feb 2006 - BJCP Certification Prep Class - North Wales, PA
• Focused beer evaluation training from Larry Horwitz, head brewer, Iron Hill - North Wales.
Mar 2006 - present - Consultant; Sales Clerk, Wine, Barley and Hops Homebrew Supply
• Provide advice and troubleshooting assistance on all matters related to home beer and winemaking
• Developed recipes for store's in-house beer kit line
Feb 2004 – present - HVAC/Electrical controls technician, Corestates Environmental Systems
• Perform design, installation, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, temperature control and building management systems for numerous commercial accounts
• Broad range of mechanical experience, including plumbing, high and low voltage electrical devices such as pumps, compressors, heat pump systems, electric motors, automatic valving, sensors, variable frequency drives, environmental chambers, and airflow control equipment.
• Also familiar with small-scale HVAC devices such as boilers (steam and hot water), furnaces, air handlers, circulator pumps, and electric, natural gas, propane and oil heat burners.
Jan 2003 – Feb 2004 - Operations Group Scheduler, 341 Operations Group, Malmstrom AFB, MT
• Performed numerous logistical functions, primarily ensuring that ICBM Launch Control Centers were continuously manned 24/7, 365 days a year, in accordance with strict 20th Air Force guidelines
• 100% success rate in scheduling over 16,000 alert duties in a single year
• Earned Air Force Commendation Medal for service
Jun 2002 – Jan 2003 - Assistant Flight Commander, 10th Missile Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, MT
• Directly responsible for the oversight of over a dozen fellow officers and missileers
Dec 2000 – Jun 2002 - Missile Combat Crew Commander (MCCC)
• Chosen over 140 other operations crews for Operations Group Crew of the Quarter
• Qualified for Squadron Command Post, Mar 2001-Feb 2003, directly responsible for 50 nuclear ICBMs, 4 other missile crews, interface for squadron and higher headquarters
• May 1999 – Dec 2000 - Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander (DMCCC)
• Health is excellent. Enjoy homebrewing, working on automobiles and anything relating to the outdoors. Held Top Secret/SIOP security clearance until separation 1 Mar 2004. Married to wife Kellie since June 1999, two children, Nicholas, age 4, and Natalie, age 1.
Last edited by Darel Matthews; 11-19-2010 at 12:35 PM.
getting into brewing
I've been in your situation and in my opinion you should try to talk to the head brewer directly or ass't brewer if there is one. Let them know your intentions.. If they aren't looking to hire anyone chances are they know every brewer in the area and could give you a lead. I would be honest and direct and you may get an opportunity to "hang out" at a brewery for a day or two which would be worth it even if you weren't getting paid.
I'd keep my resume as concise as possible...most brewers are pretty busy and they'll probably be reading it while they're waiting for the copper to boil!
I think homebrewing skills are very valuable as well as your hvac/mechanical work....mechanical knowledge is very valuable in the brewery!
Have you considered taking a short brewing course ?
my two cents good luck !
Tariq (Dark Star Brewery, U.K.)
I'm just the opposite of you - every job I've ever had I've needed cover letters and resumes. Your cover letter and resume are terrific. Mr. Khan is right about being concise and to the point. In my opinion, your resume is exactly that. I wouldn't change anything. Your Air Force career sounds fascinating and even if your resume were a bit drawn out or wordy, I'd still find myself compelled to read more - regardless of how busy I was. Man, I'd hire you just to hear your Air Force stories - the de-classified ones, at least. Beyond that, and more practically, your resume and cover letter project a quality of professionalism, aptitude and competency.
I also agree with Mr. Khan about how to approach the brewery or brewpub. As for the interviews, I think casual dress would be fine. I've been interviewed for jobs in brewing, carpentry and welding and I've found that if you're not going to be wearing a suit to work, then you don't really need to wear a suit to your interview. As for the interview itself, keep cool. I've always found it helpful to have a few questions ready - anything regarding pay and benefits, of course, but ask about the people you'll be working with, what kind of plans the company has for the future, that kind of thing.
Best of luck to you, man.
Thanks very much for your replies, gentlemen. Tsewong, you've got mail.
About asking the assistant brewer - isn't that kinda like tipping someone off you're gunning for their job, and a sure way for your resume to end up in the trash? I mean, I'm sure no one is really like that, but it does seem kinda off-putting.
About taking a short course - right now I make very little money and my wife's education is eating up a considerable amount of it, plus some. However once she starts working (and her education is paid for) I fully intend to take the ABG correspondence course, then ASAP down the road when my two children are old enough that I can leave the family for three months, either Siebel or UC Davis. As it stands now I have to hope that my two BJCP courses are enough of an education to get me a toehold in the industry. I hate to put it so bluntly to a potential employer but if they ask about it I'll tell them the same thing - I just can't afford it right now. Hopefully it'll compel them to give me a job so I can pay for brewing school.
Thanks very much for the feedback. I can't tell you how much I appreciate any help I get.
getting into brewing
I know a few brewers who have either gone on brewing courses or taken the brewers guild exams with the financial help of their employers so you might be able to do this as an option as well. In my case I didn't want an entry level job washing casks for minimum wage so I borrowed money to go to brewing school where I also got work experience which prepared me to apply for a assistant brewers position.
As far as approaching an assistant brewer (or other brewery operative), I think you can do it in an unthreatening, networking kind of way. A lot of brewery people I've met along the way have been very helpful and gracious, but I never took the attitude of wanting to steal someone's someone else's job. I don't think it really works like that (in my opinion)in this business.
Sounds good how you have it. I would make it a point to add your intention for brewing education to your cover letter. I would also recommend that you get the resume into the hands of the head brewer and if possible, deliver it yourself. I doubt an assistant would tank it, but it might get lost in the shuffle. I think you have a great chance to land an entry level brewing job, maybe not so much brewing but working your way up. Even head brewers have to clean kegs so don't rule out a keg cleaning role to get in and prove yourself. Make them realize your potential is being wasted cleaning kegs! In my opinion, attitude and drive are everything. I would rather employ a hard working, driven, positive attitude individual with no experience than a well experienced sourpuss.
Best of luck, too bad your not in Seattle!
One more thing - I have a list of references, mostly from my Air Force days 3 or 4 years ago. Should I include them, or would brewers not really have the time to call around anyway?
You should provide a list of references with your resume package. It's up to whomever is doing the hiring to check your references, so the option and the information to support that option should be made available.
As for brewing school, there was a thread here several months ago that posted a poll asking how many brewers had schooling and how many learned on the job. Do a search on brewing schools in the discussion boards and read over the replies. If I remember correctly it was split 50/50. It was one of the more interesting discussions I've seen here. Personally, I've known only one brewer who had any brewing education and he went to UC-Davis. The rest learned on the job.
Very valid input so far. I agree with all the points made. I'd add to be willing to start on the bottom of the ladder in the brewery or brewpub. It seems almost everyone who has approached us for a job wants to get on the brew platform and start stirring grain. This go-getter atitude is great. However, it takes time to ramp-up from homebrewing to production brewing. Showing a willingness to haul grain, clean kegs, be the brewhouse monkey is key in becoming a successful brewer. You MUST know how to do everything in the brewhouse of a micro or brewpub. Your resume shows you are someone who possesses the skills to learn multiple mechanical systems.
BTW, the one person who approached us for a job and said he was willing to volunteer to do "whatever we needed him to do" is now our paid-employee and is on-track to becoming an assistant brewer.
my two cents.....