I have educated hundreds of beer students, and the number one question they ask is: How do I get a job in the beer industry? If you are thinking of getting into the beer industry and need a push in the right direction, I have put together a list of techniques that might help give you the edge.
Let’s start with a story. I spend a lot of time at beer fests promoting my business. At each fest, I get at least one person dropping off a resume or a business card asking me for a job or to pass this along to anyone who is hiring. I respect their effort, but why would I hire this person? I don’t know anything about them. They didn’t even take the time to have a five minute conversation with me. The truth is that I wouldn’t hire this person even if I had a job opening. My business revolves around building relationships. By walking up to me and handing me a piece of paper, you actually failed the only test that matters. You showed me that you suck at building relationships.
So you are probably asking yourself what they should have done?
A better strategy would have been to following these 5 steps:
1. VOLUNTEER AT BEER EVENTS OR AT A BREWERY
This one is so obvious to me. This industry revolves around people. Go where the people are at. There are always events looking for volunteer help. Brewers are paying attention to people pouring at events. How do you interact with people? Do you have the skills to drive people to their taproom? These events are a great place to network, but more importantly, determine if you will really be happy working in this environment.
Now I know that there are people out there that are against working for free. They complain about being taken advantage of. This is fine. There is just one problem. The market doesn’t care about your complaining. This is supply and demand. There is a big demand to get into the beer industry and limited jobs out there. If you want in, you just might have to do some volunteering.
2. BUILD YOUR BEER KNOWLEDGE BASE
This one is important, but often misunderstood. You do not have to pass advanced exams to get a job in a taproom. The commitment to learning more about beer is what is important. It separates you from someone that is just looking for a job. With that said, I recommend completing the Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam. This is a credential that you can use on a resume to at least show that you are serious about beer. It isn’t going to get you the job, but it will likely get you an interview for a serving position. This exam is a relatively low investment at $69 and only requires you to pass a 60 question online multiple choice exam.
We actually have an exam prep course that offers a money back guarantee if you don’t pass the exam. To learn more about the Beer Exam Prep Class, Click Here
For those that are curious about what the Cicerone certification pathway looks like there are are 4 levels of certifications: Certified Beer Server, Cicerone, Advanced Cicerone, and Master Cicerone.
Most people looking to get into the beer industry are not always looking for brewing positions. However, if brewing is your thing, I would recommend looking into Siebel Institute in Chicago. It’s not cheap, but well worth the investment if you are serious about brewing.
3. INTERACT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I see quite a bit of fails when it comes to using social media to get a job. Some people just use it to go to breweries Facebook pages and ask for a jobs. The odds of this working are very slim. So what should you do?
As I mentioned before, this industry revolves around people. Social media is no different than a networking event. The wonderful thing about it is that you can do it any time and you don’t have to go anywhere to do it. You may be working another job and have a family, but you have no excuse here. You can hop on Twitter or Instagram at 2am and interact if you want to.
The important thing to remember here is to be a person. Following a brewery and liking all of their posts isn’t a strategy. What you should do is make good comments on their accounts and share their best posts. Then continue the conversation. If they post about a new beer they just made, ask them a question about the brewing process. You could ask them questions like:. “What hops did they use?” “Did you add the fruit to the beer during the mash, boil, or before packaging?” This is a great way to demonstrate some of the beer knowledge you have been working on. Someone who is just looking or a job, and doesn’t care about beer, probably isn’t going to ask these questions.
Let’s say for example, I have been interacting with a brewery online, maybe I would mention to them that I will be volunteering at a fest they will be at. Maybe the fest owner will let me pour their beer. This will take the relationship to a new level. This could be like an audition letting the brewery observe you while you interact with beer fans. Even if you don’t pour their beer, stop by their booth and say hello. Introduce yourself. Be you (unless you suck).
For those looking for a strategy, try this. Make a list of every brewery, beer bar, restaurant, or beer influencer. Follow them on your social media platform of choice and regularly interact with them. Make sure to track this so that you don’t forget. If you try to do this just randomly going through your feed, it is going to be too much of time suck.
Building relationships takes time. Whether you do it in person or online, there is not shortcut. You can’t automate it. You have to be present and you have to be a human being.
4. BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND
This one is not as obvious, and definitely more of an advanced strategy. Start a blog interviewing local breweries. Start a Youtube video series talking to experts in the industry. Start doing Facebook live videos documenting your daily travels in the beer world. You don’t have to do all of them, but executing just one will help quite a bit. All of these strategies have one thing in common. They involve you interacting with people.
As you continue your journey here, you will build up your network as well as your authority. I often get asked why I didn’t start an online beer school with Marty Nachel earlier. The reason is because I didn’t have the authority to. Why would a well known beer author want to get involved with an unknown person? Now I didn’t choose to go get a job with a brewery. I was lucky enough to turn my hobby into a business, but I always knew that working at a brewery was a possibility.
I have a very different business now than I did back in 2010. Back then I had a part time beer blog, that was actually more of a hobby. If I made $200 in a month and got into 2 beer fests for free I was super happy. Several years later, the game has changed. So here is what I did. I built up my network, did a lot of favors, and made a lot of friends. I let people follow my journey as a beer lover. I didn’t have the authority to train people as a beer educator. This was something I had to earn. Here are steps of how this played out over the last 7 years:
2010: I started a beer blog (not a very good one) where I documented my journey online and interacted with beer businesses. I helped beer fans discover these businesses and in turn drove business to these businesses
2011: I launched a membership club and promoted it at beer fests and events.
2012: Created events for members to attend and found them deals to bring them to businesses.
2013: Started to focus on beer education and became noticed by beer educators to work on collaborative projects with them.
2014: Began working with brewery owners and some beer educators on improving education for beer fans.
2015: Joined the Business of Craft Beer Program at College of DuPage as an adjunct faculty and board member.
2016: Launched an online education platform with a well known beer author.
2017: Launched membership program to help beer fans pass certification exams as well as learn the joys of learning about beer.
This may seem like a long process, but this was what my journey looked like. I didn’t have the authority to launch an education program back in 2010, but I do now. This is all about staying in your lane and just doing you.
Think about how you want your journey to play out. Start with the end goal and reverse engineer your process. You want a job at a brewery right? So start there and work backwards. The steps to that might be to pass your Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam, volunteer at 5 beer events, and interact with breweries at events and online, demonstrate your knowledge, willingness to learn, and that you are good person. When there is job opening, who do you think has the best chance to get hired? The person who just dropped off a resume? Or the person that they know, like, and trust?
It is important to remember that the more relationships you build, the luckier you will be when it comes time to land a job. Start with 10 breweries and see how many you can keep up with. The beer industry is very tight knit community. Maybe the brewery hiring doesn’t know you, but maybe you have relationships with the right people that can make a phone call for you.
5. BE A GOOD PERSON (SERIOUSLY)
I can’t believe I have to write this, but I see a lot of bad interactions out there. Be someone who is coachable. Be someone that comes from a place of wanting to serve others. And most of all, be someone that other people don’t mind spending 12 hours a day with. If you fail here, the first four strategies on our list probably won’t matter.
There you have it. If you have any additional strategies that have worked for you, I would love to hear about them.
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