If you are looking to start a new career in baking, you can go down the route of taking a professional baking course. This route will give you a lot of the skills you require to get working in the industry. Yet if you don’t have any qualifications, how do you get a job as a baker? I’ve recruited dozens of bakers over the (10 plus) years as a bakery manager and bakery owner. Here is my insight into how to get a job at a bakery, the best way to get an interview and how to write your CV to get a baker’s job.
Many of the same processes are followed in a professional bakery as they would be at home. When baking professionally the output is much higher, you’ll be expected to produce over 100 products per person each shift. There isn’t time to fuss over one loaf. Instead, you’ll focus on driving efficiency and doing things in bulk.
You’ll learn skills such as an effective traying up technique, dividing a table full of dough, cutting dozens of bloomers, crossing trays and trays of hot cross buns at pace. You’ll discover how to do things quickly and approach baking in terms of volume and quality. You have to be efficient, if you’re too slow the dough will spoil.
Home bakers will find professional baking quickly improves your technique! You may also be using equipment to speed up the process. So overall, you are doing the same thing, but it’s much more intense.
Yes, it is possible to gain a baker’s job with no experience. Whilst many bakeries prefer to recruit bakers with experience, some actually refuse to. Teaching a new recruit how to bake bread in the bakeries style can take 6 -12 months. Many bakers say that it is more preferential to train the right person even if they have no experience than it is to upskill an experienced baker.
Every bakery uses different methods and equipment to create its range. Some stick to the same techniques for each bread and change the flour or packet of concentrate. Others, lean more towards artisan baking. Here, different recipes and shaping techniques are used to create an array of bread styles.
You’ll learn more skills in an artisan environment, though expect to find a bigger team and more promotion opportunities in an industrial setup. Getting your first job in a bakery teaches you plenty of skills. Every baking experience will help you in the future. These days I tend to stick to artisan baking techniques, yet frequently draw on my non-artisan baking experiences. A bakery where you’ll gel with the team, receive proper training and that’s in a sensible location is just as important as the type of bread you are making.
As Bearkery says in this Reddit thread “Don’t email. Show up in person (with a resume) and be super friendly with a smile. We’re bakers. Things like this go a long way with us.” Bakers are steeped in tradition and manual work. They can’t use computers to speed up their workflow as other industries can. If you see a job advertised, either pick up the phone and speak to them or, better still, get down there and see them.
If the bakery is advertising a baker role with full training on a job site, they are likely to be inundated with unemployed people under pressure to apply for work to keep their benefits. There is no prejudice in this, what I mean is there will be lots of people potentially applying because they have to, not because they want to, and it’s sometimes hard to tell which applicants are serious. What you should do to put yourself in front of them so you are at the front of the queue.
One of the most important traits of a new baker is the ability to listen. This compels with being able to learn, take accountability when things go wrong and communicate with others. Most bakeries are built around small, close-knit teams, so you’ll have to show that you are up for the challenge, and able to get along with the workforce.
Taking some time out to learn about some of the science of baking can really boost your confidence when applying for and starting a job as a baker. One of the best books I’ve read is The taste of bread by Dr Raymond Calvel.
Get in contact with the bakery and speak to the manager. Be honest and explain your situation. The best question you can ask here is “What can I do to be the best candidate?”
This gives the employer the opportunity to help guide you in what they are looking for (take notes, you might want to use these pointers in an interview!). You’ll then be able to acknowledge his comments by explaining that you have what it takes, or the skills you are looking to develop.
You should then declare your interest. Here’s the killer part. Use a line similar to “I’m really excited about this role, can I come and take a look at the bakery and get an interview?” Now the “come and have a look at the bakery” part is not something I would use in any other industry, other than culinary. It’s a way to relax the interviewer and make it an informal visit. Depending on the size of the bakery, hiring is not always an everyday factor in a bakery owner’s routine. By making it a little more informal by asking for a tour, it might make them feel more comfortable – and if it doesn’t and they refuse, it shows you are interested in the working environment and what it could teach you (very empowering!).
At this point, they may ask instead to see your CV or to come in for an interview with one. So what should it include?
I’ve had successful bakers with a variety of backgrounds. From marketing assistants to bricklayers there is no set experience required for the role. What you must do is demonstrate how your previous experiences provide relatable skills.
Have no illusions, the bread baking industry is a low margin industry. As a professional bread baker, you’ll be expected to work very hard and quickly. There isn’t a big profit margin to allow for inefficiency, nor mistakes. You should expect to be capable of working quickly, without error.
A great baker will be passionate about quality, desire perfection and do it right every time. They will be able to cope with being on their feet for most of the day and have good timekeeping skills. There will also be some problem-solving and maths skills required. You’ll need to plan your production so your products reach the oven at the perfect time. Another common situation is when a machine breaks down and you’ll have to work a way of changing your production routine at the last minute.
If you have no previous baking experience or qualifications it can feel a little awkward handing in a CV. But don’t worry, we all have to start somewhere! In fact, many master bakers prefer to teach their craft to unskilled bakers. This way avoids them from having any bad habits or unwanted techniques. There is nothing worse than a baker who thinks they can do things better by changing your recipes! Here are a few pointers for what to include:
The job specifications in the vacancy advert will tell you what the employer is looking for. If you are going to an interview that isn’t advertised you could search for a previously filled vacancy at the company on Indeed or Glassdoor. Instead, have a look at similar roles at different bakeries to get an idea.
List each skill required and think of an example of where you’ve demonstrated competency in the skill before. Then include it in your work experience section of your resume. Keep hold of a few more just in case they ask in the interview!
The top of the page is going to be the first place a recruiter will look. Use it to shout about your skills and bonus points will be awarded if you mention the skills that they are looking for in the advert.
Write a cover letter to explain your motivation for wanting the role. If you are changing your career from a less physically demanding one, you’ll want to convince the employer that being on your feet for long periods and working with your hands will not be a problem. An employer will be mindful of this so be sure to include a line or two in your cover letter to explain why you want to work in a physical industry. You should also include what you hope to get from the job and a short summary of why you think that you are suitable.
If you are able to attend an interview then there are a few questions that they are likely to ask. Check my other blog post, how to pass an interview for a baker job to find out what they are.
When you receive a call after the interview, there are three possible outcomes. Here’s what they are so you can prepare for them:
If you’re successful, expect to be asked to do a trial shift. It’s not done everywhere, as if it’s unpaid it’s potentially illegal. I wouldn’t be discouraged by this as many people are shocked by the intensity of professional baking and run for the door. It’s an opportunity for you and the employer to walk away if it’s not going to be the right fit.
If there’s no trial shift and you’re offered the job then great. I’ve always slept on a job offer as I want to be sure that it’s the right thing to do, but do as you wish! There may be a training rate of pay, followed by a qualified rate. If so, get clarification before accepting at what point the higher rate will commence.
If you are not successful, as always ask for feedback and if you feel comfortable you can request to be contacted when another role comes up. My experience as an employer is that there is no way of 100% knowing whether an interviewee will be successful in the role after a chat. I’ve got it wrong on plenty of occasions! So don’t feel too down, as, something else will come up soon.
As much as there is plenty to love about baking bread, it doesn’t turn out to be the dream role for everyone. Physical work, long hours and unsociable shifts can become barriers. I’ve also seen many intelligent people just not “get” baking bread, professionally anyway. In this case, you’ll have much more respect from your employer if you tell them that you are looking for something else.
They can often put you on basic duties and will stop investing wasted time training you. This will allow you to be an asset to them and cover certain positions whilst they look for someone else.
If you like the idea of becoming a baker and would like to know more, why not speak to a local bakery. See if you could do some work experience with them for a shift or two. Even if there is no vacancy. If they agree, you’ll be able to see first-hand what it’s like in a commercial bakery. I always said yes to those that asked. Many people love baking. And once they’re in, they stay in for years.
I’ve tried to offer my best insight from my experience in hiring bakers. If you’ve found this post helpful, or have any questions, let me know in the comments below. Good luck!