Cadbury the Butler Q&A

Private Staff Traits

Dear Cadbury,
I would like information on becoming a butler. I’m a female ready for work; I would appreciate any information you could send me. Thank you.
Sincerely, Sherrie

Dear Sherrie,
Most people enter the private service profession through a series of jobs in and a personal passion to learn about giving fine service-both in terms of professional attitude and acquiring the requisite skills. Some persons come into it by way of the hospitality industry- through hotel and restaurant work, and others receive training in the course of their domestic employment and then a small percentage of butlers, male and female, get their start by going to one of the Butler training schools- of which the International Butler Academy is the best. Keep in mind the traits of a top Butler:

  • Exceptional positive attitude with strong energy
  • Immaculate Appearance
  • ‘Trust’ something that you build over time, very important!
  • Skills & knowledge developed through professional interest and ongoing learning
  • Common sense & good listening skills
  • Able to think on your feet
  • Being tech savvy
  • Anticipating your boss’s needs
  • Able to respond quickly to a variety of tasks
  • Being yourself – Natural
  • Controlling your emotions – Be calm
  • Confidentiality at all times

Next figure out if these traits are within your abilities and if so, seek out the avenue that best gives you increasing experience and credibility in the Butler world.

Dear Cadbury,
Are there any particular skills that employers are asking for in the private service candidates that they hire? We are a private service couple. It probably makes more sense for us to build on our CV’s with courses and seminars relevant to the skills currently in demand. After spending the past couple of weeks online several hours a day investigating the job market etc, it looks as though in spite of all the professional schools and training that individuals and couples have, there may still be things that they are lacking. Your thoughts? Thank you.

Dear F & N,
I’m not sure that I can answer your question in the detail that you might be hoping for. Every private service position is unique because of the people / family and because of the location and residence. You cannot come up with a resume that is “one size, fits all”.

What you can do is present yourself honestly and address issues that are common to most private service positions. You need to convey your skills to the reader. Communicate either your hands-on ability or your ability to direct someone in the following topic areas of House Management Skills:

  • Culinary expertise
  • Serving/ Service, entertainment, protocols
  • Housekeeping
  • Property management any handyman /trouble shooting skills/ knowledge of trades
  • Driving and vehicle care skills
  • Child skills
  • Administrative abilities
  • Security
  • Special talents that might be of interest such as languages, special training
  • Other-areas that I may have overlooked or that you know you are skilled in

The more specific you are, the more interesting it can be, but keep your writings concise. If housekeeping is not a strong hands-on skill, you still might be able to say, “I understand high standards and am competent in daily pickup, can direct and supervise the basic care of a home including fine furnishings and finishes. What I do not know, I will ask about or research”. Be honest, of course.

Dear Cadbury,
I recently acquired a server position at a 5-diamond restaurant. What would be your suggestion for me to make a good first impression to our Chef de Cuisine? I know each chef is different, but I was wondering if you had any good experiences trying to win over a chef? Thanks in advance for your reply.
Nervous in Santa Barbara

Dear Nervous,
Universally appreciated attitudes will include at least these traits:

Helpfulness – offering to help other team members as possible-perhaps assisting chef with some small task-carrying something for him, getting him a glass of water.

Supportiveness – being sincere and generous with genuine comments and compliments, with humor if possible. Chefs like to hear what the customers say about their food.

Responsibility – understanding what is expected of you in your particular job description, so that the chef and you are on the same page as to the procedures and his expectations are met. Also being willing to recognize and manage your share of any group responsibility- such as closing procedures in a restaurant- insuring all areas are left in a standard condition.

Graciousness – being able to seek and accept advice as well as accept responsibility for mistakes and not immediately blame others.

So when you meet the chef, give him or her a smile and state that you want to work well with chef and ask chef to let you know if chef needs you to do something for chef or has any suggestions for you.

Follow up your initial impression of helpful friendliness with some unexpected gestures of helpfulness, nice comments about chef’s food and by asking chef as often as possible if you can help him or her in any way.

This approach usually works, but is not guaranteed! It works in other service relationships as well!