14 months and six jobs later, I think I've figured out how this whole work-while-you-travel thing is supposed to pan out.
I've been moving around, jumping countries and working in bars and restaurants to support my travel habit. Low bank accounts can be a stressful thing when traveling, and holding a temporary job seems to be the best way to replenish them (until I find a rich divorcee to marry). I'm still convinced this whole “working” thing is a crock, but until I can prove it, I'm doing this.
It's easy to get a bartending job when you're traveling. If you're going to be staying in a city or town for a little while, hospitality gigs are definitely the way to go.
Not only does it bring money in, but the associated perks can make it even more worthwhile: free food and drink often go hand-in-hand when working in bars so you'll save on groceries and nights out.
That being said, there is no scientific formula on how to get a bartending job while traveling. But I can tell you that I've spent a long enough time looking for work and I've tried more than a few attack methods. Some might be a bit unconventional, but they do deliver. If you're looking for work during your travels, here's what I'd recommend.
1. Get Yourself Out There
Don't just sit back perusing the online classifieds. Sure, you'll find some opportunities there, but a lot of businesses won't go out of their way to advertise for help. It becomes a matter of convenience for them and you want to make yourself available. Networking is key so get out there and make yourself known. You're running a campaign for yourself, so have a folder full of résumés (CV's) and talk to everybody you can.
2. Walk in the Place Like You Own It
Be confident but not cocky. Strut your stuff. You're selling yourself and you want to make a lasting impression. It's likely that you won't get a bartending job on the spot so make sure the manager knows who you are (or at least remembers you). I've run across some places that receive 60+ résumés every day. What makes you so special?
3. Show Your Face a Million Times
A lot of managers won't hire people they don't know. They'll take your resumé and neatly place it in an untouched pile (or the trash) in the back room. Be real with them—strike up a conversation and ask if that's where it's going. Joke a little bit, be personable and make yourself known. Stop by once a week (or once every few days if it's appropriate) and they'll get to know you. Once they do, you're at the top of their list. Assuming they like you.
4. Don't Rely on Your Resumé
As a general rule, every business is going to do either one of two things: they'll either study your resumé carefully or they won't look at it at all. Have one on hand but don't expect it to do the work for you. You need some grit and determination. After all, getting a job is a job in itself.
5. Speak to a Manager
If there isn't one available, ask when there will be. Be pushy, but not aggressive. Don't leave your résumé with another employee—it likely won't even make its way to the person in charge. Many times the employees are trying to get jobs for their traveling friends so get a bit savage and cut them out of the equation. Sometimes you just gotta get your hands dirty.
6. Lie on Your Resumé
If you're not qualified, pretend like you are. If you're trying to get a bartending job, what does four years as a kindergarten teacher do for you? If your experience doesn't match the job you're trying to get, frame it in a way that makes it sound relevant. Or just outright lie (I know—we're crossing ethical boundaries here).
You could, for example, talk about how your past experience improved your communication skills and made you a reliable and dependable person. Do you hate the idea of working in an office? Mention that! If you've never been a bartender before, look for a job at a local pub—not a cocktail bar—and you'll learn everything you need to on the job. Everybody's a bit nervous on their first day, so nobody is going to expect you to blow them away.
7. Check the Classifieds
Keep your eyes open, check online and in the newspapers, but don't rely on them. Find out if there's a weekly community newsletter. If you find an ad, call them—don't just text or email. You're going to be working face-to-face with these people so don't be afraid to talk to them.
8. Follow Every Lead
You never know where it will take you. Even the most unlikely options are still options, so make the most of every opportunity, no matter how ludicrous it might seem. It's easy to wind up feeling discouraged if you're having a hard time. Stay at it.
If it's not going well, just remember, you only need one person to say “yes.”