Working in the fast food industry is a great first job for those looking to gain work experience and some money too.
It can be a rewarding career, with some individuals even choosing to stay within the sector for their entire lives. Others, however, use it as a stepping stone before entering another role.
Careers in fast food may be classically stereotyped as unskilled, but there are many skills that can be learned from these jobs. There is more to fast food than just preparing orders and giving it to customers!
Those who have worked in fast food know that it’s an industry that requires patience and hard work. It can teach you a lot about yourself and bring to light skills you never even knew you had. Many people even attest that many of the skills they learned in fast food are those they still use today.
Before we dive into what these skills are, let’s talk a little bit more about transferable skills.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills (also known as soft skills) are generally regarded as interpersonal skills or personality traits that you use to communicate and work with others. Additionally, they are also defined as skills which can be learned in one industry and applied to another. For example, skills such as critical thinking and teamwork can be learned in the fast-food industry and applied to the food processing sector.
Strengthening your soft skills is a great way to accelerate the speed of your career journey.
Examples of soft skills include:
– Critical Thinking
– Team Work/Collaboration
– Decision Making
Now that we have that out of the way let’s focus on skills you can learn from the fast food industry and apply them to the food processing sector.
5 Important Transferable Skills from the Fast Food Industry
If we asked you to imagine a fast food restaurant, it’s likely you would imagine walking up to the front counter and ordering your meal from a cashier. Cashiers act as the front face of a fast food restaurant because they deal with customers directly. Unfortunately, sometimes customers can be difficult, demanding, and unreasonable. However, if you can master talking to them, then you are well on your way to collaborating with co-workers in the food processing industry.
Fast food teaches you to how to please a customer even if they are not always in the right. The food processing industry is filled with many professions which are customer-facing, such as sales, account management and customer service. For example, an account manager represents the post-sales role that focuses on building and strengthening relationships with clients. Essentially, account managers help customers (like retailers) when there is a problem with their product.
Fast food teaches you to be courteous and how to listen to the needs of customers. This can be translated to a role of an account manager, where you need to be courteous to clients and build genuine relationships.
Teamwork is one of the top skills that employers are looking for when hiring new staff. In fast food, you are exposed to a variety of people you need to work with and many times, you might not like everyone. Despite your differences, work still needs to be completed, and everyone must get through the shift.
These experiences prepare you for food processing facilities where manufacturing lines are made of team members with different personalities. These teammates work together to create products, package them and send them to you. As a fast-food employee, you learn how to communicate with colleagues and work as a cohesive team in a fast-paced environment. Like a food processing facility!
Every workplace requires a degree of trust and collaboration. Even if you work as an individual contributor in a food processing facility, you still need to know how to ask for help and communicate the status of a project. Even small talk is a good way to build trust among colleagues—nothing like getting through a stressful service to build teamwork.
Attention to detail
Fast food restaurants are built on consistency and standards. That’s why when you go into two restaurants from the same burger chain, you expect the same-tasting burger. This consistency is dependent on all staff and their level of attention to detail. Cashiers must listen carefully and input details correctly about customer orders. Alternatively, cooks must pay attention to company standards on how to prepare orders and modify them based on customer requests.
Food processing facilities are also built on consistency. Every time you purchase a cookie, for example, you expect it to be the same. Food processing facility staff are also required to pay attention to details. Such is the case of a machine operator where they make sure their packaging lines match the product description. If attention is not paid, then this can mean disastrous consequences down the line!
Many job postings across industries require that you are comfortable with multi-tasking and handling fast-paced environments. Lunch and dinner rushes are the perfect examples of where fast food workers are required to multitask.
Cashiers, for example, must greet customers, take orders, prepare drinks, communicate with team members and build orders. In food and beverage processing, staff who work in food safety such as Quality Control Technicians, also have to multi-task effectively. On a typical day, it is not uncommon for quality control technicians to juggle tasks like completing lab tests and performing daily checks of products inspecting the safety of a manufacturing facility.
Working in a fast food exposes you to many different types of people due to the nature of the work. Some staff are only temporary, lasting a summer, while others for years. Likely, if you stay at a restaurant for a lengthened period of time, you will have to train another individual on a piece of equipment. This builds your mentorship and leadership qualities because you must figure out the best way to teach a new staff member. This becomes an extremely useful skill when working in the food processing industry.
Another opportunity to learn leadership roles in a fast food restaurant is by becoming a shift manager. A shift manager is responsible for directing and managing the operation of the restaurant during a specific time. They delegate tasks to employees and ensure that workers are completing their job duties.
Your ability to delegate tasks becomes useful in the food processing industry because it gives you the confidence to build up your delegation skills. This becomes handy when you want to move up the ranks in the food industry, such as becoming a line manager. A role which requires you to run the line of a manufacturing facility.
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