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From flipping burgers to working remotely

Search Remotely Flipping burgers to working remotely

Today I read a post on Reddit. The gentleman wanted to know if it is possible to transfer from working at a  fast food restaurant and burger joint without a college degree to tele-commute? Can I get a remote job with experience in the service industry? Can I work from home with experience as a bartender, waiter or cook? He asked.

Search Remotely Flipping Burgers to Remote Work
Search Remotely Flipping Burgers to Remote Work

Yes, you can make the transition to remote work. You can get a remote job working from home with prior job experience working at a restaurant.  Many of the job skills to be successful in the service industry are easily transferable to remote work. So, HECK ya! It seems like he is selling himself short. If you don’t believe in yourself first, it is hard for others to take a chance on you.

Check out our video on transferable food service worker skills and remote job skills:

Fast food workers who flip burgers background

Before we talk about transitioning to remote work,  let’s ask the question, “Do you know what it takes to flip burgers?”  You’ll be shocked by these facts!  There are over 36,834 fast food workers in the US.  Slightly more than half are women the other less than half are men. Their average age is 24 years.  They work long hours, often are not paid overtime, and  receive little benefits.

These are the main reasons why fast food workers want to transition from the restaurant business. Many burger flippers  earn less than minimum wage. There are thousands of fast food workers who often make even less than that. A recent study found that the median hourly pay for fast food workers was just $8.13 per hour. That’s not enough to live on, especially when you consider the cost of living in major cities.

Plus disgruntled customers can threaten violence and even death!

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In spite of these facts, tele-commuting can present a world of new opportunities for fast food workers. Many of the skills that are needed to be successful at flipping burgers and serving customers are not very different from traditional work when it comes to the tasks you have to complete. I really don’t understand his hesitation.

The similarities between remote work and flipping burgers

To make the successful transition from flipping burgers, waitressing, serving customers, you need to first recognize the similarities between working from home and your current job as a burger flipper. Or waitress, bell hop or cashier.

  • You gotta establish a set schedule for working at a fast food restaurant.
  • You gotta deal with difficult customers, co-workers and bosses.
  • You gotta be quick on your feet and improvise. Not enough french fries in the fryer? See if the customer wants chicken fries instead for a quick upsell and resolution to your temporary inventory problem.
  • You gotta multi-task. Colleagues call out all of the time. Therefore, you gotta handle the cooking tasks today, tomorrow the cash register, the day after that, the janitorial services.
  • You gotta have that internal drive and determination. Friends joke about you working where you work? No worries. You have thick skin. You gotta pay the bills.

Now that we got that negative mindset out of the way, let’s review the 15 transferable job skills that you obtained while working in the restaurant, hospitality or service industry. Instead of referring to them in slang, let’s refer to these employable job skills in relatable terms of importance to a potential employer.

15 transferable job skills and job terms relatable to employers

Maybe we’ve used colloquial terms, but you get the picture. FlexJobs understands too, that there are thousands of hospitality and service workers yearning to work from home. So, they listed key job skills terms you need to think about that are relatable to  remote employers. To help out, we’ve provided relatable and relevant examples that you have probably come across each day while working your restaurant, hospitality or service job.

If you’d like check our quick video describing the transferable job skills, you can watch it below.

Here’s the 12 transferable job skills you have that will help you to get the remote job you want:

  • Problem-solving and Creativity.  Like the example above, if you’re out of warm french fries, you are quick to offer your hungry customer chicken fries. You think on your feet. You don’t turn a customer away empty handed. And, you don’t miss the chance to upsell either.
  • Analytical reasoning. What does this mean in laymen’s terms?  You think logically about things. You don’t get too emotional about complaints. And, you don’t take a dissatisfied customer’s anger personally. You reason through the situation and come to a solution with logic.
  • Critical thinking and Project Management. Occurs when you collect relevant information, analyze it, and come to a conclusion. For instance, if a customer complains that she/he arrived first and was served last, you would use critical thinking. First you’d note her ticket number and the time she arrived and placed her order. You can tell if she is providing factual information or not, just by looking at the receipt. Now if she has a valid complaint, next you’d look at the bottleneck. Did someone need to go to the refrigerator because the cooking line was out of burgers on standby? Did she make a special request that requires more time to prepare? You use your critical thinking skills each and every day on the job. You don’t idly stand by with your hands on your hips. Otherwise, you’d be out of a restaurant job by now.
  • Leadership and Management. Do you step up to the plate when a work partner is slacking? Yes. Do you fake illness when you have been scheduled to work? No. Many think the exhibition of leadership is to be like General Patton. But, it is often filling in for others. Picking up someone else’s task. And, helping the front line get things done.
  • Adaptability. Much like the character trait of leadership, adaptability is plain and simple. Adapting to your environment.  If the que for line number 3 is long, and number 1 and 2 are empty. Do you stay at your #1 or #2 workstation, or do you try to help your work colleague move customers along? When you were presented with your working schedule you were told, Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 3:00pm. Now, the day that you arrive for your shift on Wednesday, the team leader says there has been a change. Do you go ahead and adapt your schedule? Or do you stomp out the door? If you changed your schedule (to the best of your ability), that shows you adapt well to your environment and changing conditions.
  • Relationship Building, Communication, Listening  and Writing Skills.  I can bet you are a pretty good communicator and display excellent listening skills. You probably don’t talk over your clients and make sure you listen carefully to their order to get it exactly right. If you work in a restaurant and you wait tables, I’m sure you write legibly so that the short order cook can distinguish between orders.
  • Attention to Detail. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Even if you’re a janitor, be the best janitor you can.” How does one do this on the job? By paying attention to detail.  Does the food contents packed in the customer’s bag match the ordered items on the receipt? I’m sure you do an internal quality control check before you pass the baton.  Every work task that you complete, you complete the task to the best of your ability. You pay attention to the details that matter.
  • Computer Skills. Do you have a smart phone? If you do, you have employable job skills. You are proficient in using a handheld device to get things done for yourself. If you work in a restaurant, you definitely have competent computer skills in using a Point of Purchase / Point of Sale computer device , you just haven’t been aware that this is an in demand computer skill.

We’re not going to forget the job skills that acquired while working in a restaurant, in the hospitality sector or customer service industry. We’ll pause for a second now that we got that negative mindset out of the way. We’re going to talk about the specific action plan you need to get the remote job of your dreams.

Take a workplace personality assessment

You seem like the type that for whatever reason you had to jump into the workforce real fast. You may not have had the luxury to think about your purpose in life, literary arts and philosophy.

This may mean that you have not had the opportunity to self reflect. So, before you jump into the competitive waters of remote work and get fatally bitten by a hungry shark, let’s pause for a moment and take some assessments to figure out your skills, interests and abilities.

There are several free assessments you could take that only require about 5 to 15 minutes of your time. It will be well worth it. Believe it or not, I still have my Strong and Campbell Interest Inventory my guidance counselor administered to me in the 9th grade. And, I am well over the age of 30 and went on to earn a PhD.

I said that to say that in any job, remote or in person; you do have to like what you do because it will be much easier to excel, get promoted and earn more money. If you accidentally get stuck doing what you don’t really like to do, your career may stagnate and you’ll have less job satisfaction, lower quality of life. This condition may eventually lead to unhappiness.

You wouldn’t want that would you? So, chop, chop. Get that assessment done now!

Work on your resume

Remember the transferable job skills we talked about earlier? We’re going to go back a revisit them. We needed to take a mini break because I didn’t want to belittle your hesitation. Yes, making the transition from waitressing at a restaurant, flipping burgers or working the cash register at Family Dollar can be challenging. But you can do it. I have full confidence in you. So, if you don’t already have a resume, create one. Don’t be shy about listing your accomplishments:

  • Number of years on the job
  • Chronological listing of the jobs and titles for which you have been proficient
  • Salary history, hopefully there has been an upward trend
  • Quotations from your supervisors about your timeliness, attention to detail, teamwork, communication and diplomacy skills
  • Absence and callout history
  • Awards or commendations from the franchisee or corporate office
  • Transferable job skills

Create a mini script showcasing transferable job skill success

Don’t forget to reflect upon the transferable job skills. Even though it is the last job skill listed, it should figure prominently in your mind. Think of examples of times in which you demonstrated the transferrable job skills. Why? Because you will need to list at least one to three on your resume. And, be prepared to explain and describe verbally and in writing how you exhibited these job skills in high demand.

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Speak with your supervisor and management

Now that you have completed a workplace assessment inventory, you have identified the type of job for which you are most suited. You have hopefully finished your resume to your satisfaction. Do not embellish your resume. Be truthful about your current role. Next you will list your goals.

After you have this packet of information in hand, you should speak with your supervisor and management. Ask them if there are any opportunities for advancement. Often the best way to get a new position is to be promoted from within. You have a lot going for you right where you are. You know so much more about food service, facilities management, customer services and logistics than the next guy. You are just not giving yourself enough credit.

Hold informal informational interviews with other companies in the food service sector

After you have asked your supervisor and management about opportunities, you should also check with their competitors. Who knows? There may be opportunities in the same industry but with a different company.

I guess what I am ultimately advising you,  is that it is easier to snag a new opportunity in the same or similar industry than it is starting from scratch in a completely different one.

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While you are conducting outreach with your current employers and future employers in the same industry, you can slowly branch out to other industries based upon the feedback you are receiving. As you reach out to other potential employers on the frontend, on the backend you gotta work on your hardware upgrades and professional upskilling pursuits. We discuss them below.

Check your laptop capabilities and internet speed

See our video below on recommended internet speeds when working online from home.

Upwork suggests the following system capabilities (laptop or desktop) to work from home:

  • 16-Core GPU.
  • 512GB SSD Storage.
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port.
  • Magic Keyboard with Touch ID.
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter.

This seems pretty exhaustive. Just remember, however, that once you secure a remote position the money you spend on the necessary equipment and devices should be reimbursable.

The minimum internet speed that you need to work from home should be at least 25 Mbps for download and 3 Mbps for upload. This minimum speed will allow you to stream content, keep up with video calls and access any cloud heavy applications that you may be required for your work.

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In the vast majority of cases, if a job requires you to complete all tasks on a computer, the job can be done virtually. Having the correct digital skills for remote work is fundamental to your success of being hired.

Now that you’ve got your mindset in order and your hardware upgraded; next you need to work on your online presence.

Bridge the manual labor to professional divide

There is an old saying, “first impressions are the lasting impressions.” You know this from your days working in fast food. Why do you think your fast food employer requires you to wear uniforms that are regularly cleaned?

They want you to look professional. Customers who frequent your restaurant don’t want to give up quality for the benefit of a fast meal. They want both. The same is true when working from home. When working virtually from home or vacation spot, remote workers and digital nomads can fail to notice the importance of our physical appearance and hygiene. We may fail to link professional appearance to the underlying promise of high quality, integrity and productivity. But, I don’t think this is a problem for you.

As we work from home while sitting on our living room couches, or sipping our favorite beverage at a top resort; appearance is last on our list. But appearance does matter. Physical appearance when we have our video conferencing monitor and cameras disabled, not so much. But in the digital space and virtual reality world; first impressions are just as important as physical impressions made during in-person meetings while working in a traditional office.

Those two paragraphs took a lot of space, but what I really wanted to convey is that you gotta start building your professional presence: online in a business profile, written and polished resume, and home decor. More about these below.

Presenting your best digital profile picture

Psychological research shows that there are several factors to creating an impactful digital impression. It starts with a professional profile picture. Researchers at the University of York found that pictures of professionals who smiled slightly (showing their teeth) and wore dark colored attire with a light colored (white, creme, beige) buttoned shirt were considered favorably. There is additional research demonstrating that candidates who sported eye-glasses received up to a 30 percent increase in initial salary offers! Why? Because, experts at Gutenberg Health found that people who wear eye-glasses are more intelligent than those who do not.

Creating a Professional Online Presence

Making sure that your social media presence reflects who you are is tantamount to success. As a working from home professional, it is one of the most important skills to have. Even more so when it comes to working from home. By building a solid online presence, you can boost your employability and create the right impression with employers.

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The way you present yourself online is important for any type of job, but it has become essential if you want to tele-commute. By brushing up your skills on how to present your professional persona on social media, you will quickly learn how easiest online while also boosting your employability.

Some of the essential skills that fall into this category have to do with privacy and security settings, and you should also learn how the things you post on social media impact your audience. By discovering how your social media influences your professional reputation online, you can easily harness the benefits of being present on multiple platforms and increase your chances of getting suitable jobs. In addition to presenting your best digital picture on your remote work profile and maintaining a professional online presence, building the skills in demand for working from home are critical to your success.

Building Skills in demand for Remote Work

This article provides several tips on the digital skills for remote work. In addition to the specific digital skills (and digital literacy) discussed in greater detail, we can’t lose sight of people skills. You already have perfected the ‘soft skills’ in demand today because of your experience at a fast food restaurant.  In fact, one’s ability to communicate, use and read social cues becomes vital (as you very well know). This is because while remote work provides many advantages, a disadvantage could be the separation of clients, colleagues, supervisors and customers by space, time, and location. Therefore, the top company in the education and learning sector points to these personal characteristics as necessities for remote work:

  1. Communication skills,
  2. Empathy,
  3. Time management,
  4. Self motivated, and
  5. Cultural awareness.
Digital Marketing

The skill goes hand-in-hand with the previous one, but it also allows you to put your social media skills to good use in the service of your clients. Whether it’s B2B marketing on LinkedIn, marketing on Pinterest, or optimizing emails, learning how to create a digital marketing strategy and analyze marketing performance are skills that make you highly employable to secure a remote job.

Whether you want to become a virtual assistant or teach you our own courses about marketing on social media, lead generation, or visual communication, digital marketing skills are invaluable for any freelancer or marketer.

Learning to Code for the Web

Coding is the language of the future, and by learning how the quality and can gain invaluable skills that will allow you to  tele-commute. Learning the role that coding languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript play in making websites will allow you to find a niche to become an expert in. Whether you want to become a full-time developer or simply boost your digital skills and understand coding in order to be able to use that information in other ways, such as copywriting, learning how to code, even at the minimum level, is an important digital skill to have for many remote workers.

Customer Service for the Digital World

More and more companies moved their customer service in the digital world, meaning that they hire individuals working from home can cut costs such as office rent and the advantage of a bigger talent pool. By brushing up your customer service skills, which may include learning how to serve customers using social media or perfecting the way you build customer loyalty, you can easily boost your employability as a remote worker.

Customer services is an area that encompasses multiple niches, ranging from learning how to manage a customer service team to having conversations with challenging customers, so it’s a good idea to focus on a particular area in order to be able to demonstrate a great degree of experience to potential employers.

Taking the Creative Approach

Web-based design is a very lucrative niche for remote workers, so if you are the creative type, you may want to brush up your skills in a particular niche and to break into the web design field. From WordPress theme design to graphic design, there are many categories that you can choose from, and each of them requires a different skill set.

The good news is that there are tons of both free and paid resources out there, so you can learn the skills required to become a designer. Besides designing actual websites, you can also dabble into designing iOS or Android apps or simply focus on learning Photoshop for UX design. The possibilities are indeed endless, and if you’re a creative person, it shouldn’t be difficult to master the basic digital skills you need to make a living working virtually.

Learning How to Sell

Being good at sales is an important skill to have both in the traditional and remote work environments. From crafting the perfect sales pitch to being able to identify sales growth opportunities, there are lots of areas to focus on that will increase your employability.

Whether you want to learn how to manage your sales process for your own online venture or improve your sales negotiation skills to better serve your clients, being a good salesperson is an essential digital skill in this era. Not to mention that these skills will also allow you to better market yourself to potential employers.

Brushing up your digital skills is essential if you want to have a successful career working from home. This is especially true if you’re in your 50s and 60s and are looking to transition to remote working or make a career switch that involves getting freelance gigs you can do from home.

No matter what your interests are, boosting your skills is a great way to find opportunities that would otherwise be outside of your reach. If all of this information seems overwhelming for you, build a social network, join a club or seek out a recruiter or life coach who will support you as you endeavor to do more professionally.

Build your Remote Work Network

Take a look at the selection of online courses we offer a wide range of categories and get ready to embrace the future of work.  There are also a huge assortment of free online courses to help you on your path to remote work. Get yourself the correct digital skills for remote work today so that you can get hired to work virtually tomorrow. The main thing to remember is to associate with people who can help you get where you are going. We also offer job seeker services and a free remote work Facebook group (it is private, but costs nothing to join). You might post a message on the group page and get tons of advice!

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