Ask a Recruiter: Jonathan Nugent, Restaurant Personnel Resources

Vladimir Popovic
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In today’s interview, we’re talking to Jonathan Nugent, experienced recruiter from the restaurant industry. Let’s see what does he have to say about resumes.

Q: Tell me something about you and your business. How did you start?

A: After attending Central Michigan University, I began a career in the restaurant industry.  After 15 years in management I transitioned into recruiting and have been in the hospitality staffing industry for over 12 years.  Since 2003, I have been servicing the restaurant industry by providing quality management personnel to companies across the country. As the sole proprietor of Restaurant Personnel Resources, I pride myself on providing outstanding customer service and trying to cultivate the “right fit” between clients and candidates. 

                Twitter – @JonDNugent

                LinkedIn –

                Website –

restaurant recruiter
Restaurant Personnel Resources

Q: What are the three most common mistakes applicants make in their resumes?

A: People are too focused on listing responsibilities instead of achievements,  spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, and either listing too much information (your part time job when you were 16 probably isn’t relevant) or omitting information that could be used to sell yourself.

Q: How much time do you spend on one resume at first glance?

A: Typically about 10 seconds unless I see something that intrigues me then I’ll spend more time to determine if you may be a fit for the position.  

Q: What is the first thing you look for in a resume?

A: Layout and presentation, a sloppy resume where I have to hunt to find pertinent information is going to be discarded immediately every time.

Q: What are the three main eliminating factors for you when you review resumes?

A: Lack of relevant experience, job hopping, and poor presentation.

Q: What are the three main attributes in a resume of a candidate that will be called for an interview?

A: Does your experience meet the needs of the position, making sure an applicant falls in that sweet spot (a 25 year veteran of the industry when I’m looking to fill an entry level position isn’t getting called), and prior accomplishments.

Q: What do you think of graphic and video resumes?

A: I think it shows creativity and the ability to think outside of the box.  Some graphic resumes can get awfully “busy” and the message can get lost; more glitz than substance is a problem.

Q: What do you think of a functional resume format and what do you do when you see one?

A: I’m not a fan, it usually gives me pause that the applicant is trying to hide something, usually poor job stability.  

Q: Can you share up to five quick tips for applicants in order to pass ATS screening?

A: Stick to traditional style resumes with traditional section headers, omit fancy formatting, use language (keywords) from the job description, spell out skills and certifications (The ATS may not catch your abbreviations), stick to .doc or .pdf formats only.

Q: What is your position on photos on resumes?

A: Unless your appearance is a qualification for the position (modeling, actor, etc.) you are best served to leave it off.

Q: Do you think that professional resume writing service is worth a couple of hundreds of dollars?

A: Without a doubt it is one of the best investments you can make.  To spend $80,000 on school and not be willing to spend $500 on a resume is very shortsighted.  Next to your degree, your resume is the most important career document.  If you professionally  written resume gets you a job even a  week sooner that you have profited from it.

Q: What is your opinion regarding resume length?

A: I’m not a big stickler on resume length, 1 or 2 pages for most people is sufficient unless you are in an executive position.  Don’t leave off good information for space sake. However I’m not a fan of half pages (1 or 2 pages but not 1 ½).

Q: What are the three main points, undergraduates or fresh graduates, need to present in their resume?

A: Some industry experience (If your major is hospitality management yet you’ve never worked in hotel or restaurant in any capacity that is a problem), community service, extracurricular, and volunteer experience is important (I want to see you are a well rounded individual) and if your exceptional, your GPA.

Q: Do you check references? What is your experience?

A: References are a thorn in my side.  Sad to say but often references don’t bother returning phone calls and often it slows down the hiring process.  Let your references know that they may be called and ask them to return calls in a timely fashion.

Q: Do you read cover letters?

A: The only time  I read them is if I am looking for additional information… if someone out of state applies for a position… are you moving to the area? When?  Why?   

Q: What is your advice on making employment gaps less prominent on a resume?

A: While I prefer to see someone list dates as month/year, change your dates to show the year only.

Q: What would you like to see in resumes more often?

A: Accomplishments!!  I don’t want to know what you’ve done; I want to know how well you’ve done it.  What makes you different over the other hundred applicants I received?

Q: What are the most irrelevant parts of a resume for you?

A: Personal information, hobbies, interests…. if it doesn’t pertain to the job, you are better off to use valuable real estate on your resume to highlight your qualifications.

Q: Do you check online presence of a candidate exclusively through links provided on a resume or you dig deeper?

A: Every single time.  Your online persona makes a difference.  Tighten up your privacy settings and delete potentially offensive comments.   Those pictures from your cousins wedding can hurt you.

Q: In the end, please add a couple of sentences about resumes for our readers.

A: Most job seekers think they if they follow an online resume template, list their experiences and send off their resume that they will be immediately called for an interview.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Invest if a professionally written resume and/or career coach.  It makes a HUGE difference. 

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