Help With Salary Requirements & Resume Style/portfolio Before My Interview On Monday!

Business By taytay056 Updated 17 Oct 2013 , 3:59pm by Stitches

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taytay056 Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 10:18am
post #1 of 14

My husband sent some pics of my cakes in to a bakery outside of DC just for the fun of it..he ended up getting a job interview for each of us, he for an executive chef opening in another branch of the same company, and I for a pastry chef/cake decorator with skills in fondant, gum paste, carving, airbrushing, etc. They seem genuinely interested and excited, and "cleared their calendars" for the day of our visit.


This is what I need to figure out:


1) How much should I be asking for salary/hourly wise, with and/or without factoring in the tremendous increase in cost of living expenses?


2) I am self taught, with no formal education and little to no actual employment as a decorator, so what would you suggest for a resume format or complete alternative? A Portfolio? Suggestions for that type of thing, as well please!


3) Anything I should bring, prepare, ask, request, etc. while at my interview? I am pretty nervous...I haven't interviewed for too many jobs in my life, period...especially not ones for which I was invited from out of town!


4) Anyone here who happens to live in the Northern Virginia area that can weigh in on moving/living/working there? Anything and everything appreciated; commute, rent/mortgage costs, schools, etc...anything at all.


Wish me luck and thanks in advance for any assistance!

13 replies
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MimiFix Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 10:52am
post #2 of 14

Don't worry about your education. Speed and perfection are more important than where you learned the skill. Ten years ago a decent pastry chef made $20 per hour. If you're fast, the pay will be higher. You need a resume, but it can be short; for this position create a skill-based format. A portfolio is also necessary.  


I worked as a pastry chef in the DC area. It's a very expensive and congested place to live, and not everyone can get used to that lifestyle so take this into serious consideration. Also realize that restaurant industry job turnover is high everywhere. Be prepared that one or both of you will soon be looking for another job.     

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Claire138 Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 12:41pm
post #3 of 14

Try not to be too nervous, I'm meeting with a party planner this week and my stomach is turning so I feel for you. I have a beautician degree - make up, manicures, pedicures the lot. Although I don't practice anymore (I never wanted to be a beautician & never really liked it but that's another story) anyway, many years ago I went for an interview at a well know beauticians parlour (are they still called that?) & it took me almost 2 hours to do a manicure I was so nervous. Needless to say I did not get the job. Don't drink too much coffee before hand and try and stay calm - note to self as well:) Let us know how it goes.

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-K8memphis Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 1:32pm
post #4 of 14

the part about little or no professional decorator experience likely means you do not have speed so if that's true you will be good to go with their 'starting salary'--i'd suggest letting them set the salary bar--just a thought for you -- 


i'd bring  my portfolio back --


usually they give you something to decorate and it's a different world when you get in someone else's bakery--they will have a different set up, use different equipment and they will expect you to be able to use it to accomplish the task assigned--


i've had everything from super stiff white icing to ice a chocolate cake--no water provided to thin the icing "oh that's how we use it"  to being handed a cake order--not a picture and being told to do the sculpture "there's a sheet cake over there"  well where's the board and the icing and the parchment and the piping bags and a spatula --


and in the latter case--this bakery was in full swing with peeps working nearly elbow to elbow and i was hemmed in to one tiny postage stamp area bounded by other employees and a wall and...


so good luck to you-- would love to hear how it went--just how the interview went--hope you get the job if you want it--

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-K8memphis Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 2:03pm
post #5 of 14

the place with the stiff icing--they were strange to me--while most cake places mix basic colors daily and leave them so all decorators can fill their own bags out of the central supply--they bagged them too--one huge heavy bag of icing per color  that you had to lay all up your arm to be able to handle it--i did not see the efficiency in that and i might have mentioned that--so you might want to be prepared to stuff some things you might want to say that afterwards you'd wish you hadn't said  :lol: 


i mean i can see why a mall cookie store does this although their bags are smaller but not a boutique cake place--anyhow--


and i had this one  interview for a 'cake decorator  bring portfolio' and they ask if i have questions and i said, "what would be some of my duties?" she says, "oh umm folding cake boxes..." i said, "folding cake boxes?" while that is clearly part of the job it's not typically why you advertise for a decorator--


so no telling what you'll get--it's always a learning experience sometimes a shocking experience--both ways interviewer and interviewee-- ha!

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-K8memphis Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 3:26pm
post #6 of 14

oh gosh it's me again--


my son was a chef in northern virginia--and while the wages are not as much mimi says are in dc itself, the wages are ok--the hours are your whole life--and this was one of the most famous places in the world--


my son was very clever with getting really cool apartments & renting out the other rooms--he was single at the time


we came 800 miles to see him for 2 days around christmas--they would not change his 16 + hour shifts so we could visit a bit more--he hadn't had a day off in weeks ;)


some of them gobble you up and spit you out--


the food everywhere is beyond outstanding--some of the most fertile land on the planet--muy  intense foodie area--the growers produce amazing things and everyone rises similarly to the occasion --

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SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 13 Oct 2013 , 3:32pm
post #7 of 14

AThe DC area is its own world. I lived in MD and worked in DC for 4 years. Hated living and working there, but I do like to go back to visit. I lived 25 miles from work (in MD), but it took me 90 minutes to get to work every day. 3 hours commuting every day wore me out. Saturdays were better, it only took 30 minutes, if I left at 7:00 AM. Where I live now, rush hour is over by 9:00. In the DC area, rush hour goes at least until 10:00, but you can pretty much expect back-ups all day long on the weekdays. People in DC also seemed paranoid of precipitation. My office mates got in a panic and started leaving work early on days that it would rain. I come from an area that can get a lot of snow, so most people are used to driving in it, so I didn't understand why everyone in DC couldn't function when snow fell. One day it took over 6 hours to get home because of an ice storm.

Allergies: I didn't have allergies before I moved to that area. A few months later, the allergies kicked in. The doctor in DC told me, "we don't give a welcome basket when people move to DC, we give them a prescription for Claritin." He told me to remember that DC is basically built on a swamp and that the allergies mainly affect people form the north where there is a shorter growing season. There are also a lot of high ozone/smog days in the summer, with warnings for people with asthma and the elderly. A friend of mine has terrible allergies, but she likes living in the area so much that she is willing to deal with it. Her doctor has finally found the right 'cocktail' of meds to help her get by.

Cost of living: we decided to start a family and wanted to have one parent stay home with the children. We could not find a house in a safe area on just my husband's income, so we moved back home. Houses are at least double the price of where I live now. In MD we lived in a nice apartment, the rent was $1500 a month. That was 12 years ago.

Shopping: lots of nice malls. Oh, and IKEA!

Entertainment: there are lots of museums and things to do.

Look at some house prices online at places such as Trulia or Zillow to get an idea. Check MD as well as VA.

All in all, a lot will depend on your personality. If you don't mind crowds, traffic, etc. you may like it. Lots of people really love the area. It just wasn't for me.

Good luck with your decision and your interview!

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taytay056 Posted 15 Oct 2013 , 11:34am
post #8 of 14

AThank you all so, so much for your advice, Ef s and Here's what happened yesterday: Almost every aspect of the trip j

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Oct 2013 , 12:39pm
post #9 of 14

taytay--did part of your post get lost on the way somewhere in the broadband?


just a heads up--not to mention i'm most curious to know how it went ;)

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Baking Sis Posted 15 Oct 2013 , 1:33pm
post #10 of 14

Eager to find out how it all went as well....hope it worked out the way you wanted. 

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Oct 2013 , 2:18pm
post #11 of 14

TAYTAY where are you? :-D

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MimiFix Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 1:22pm
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by -K8memphis 

TAYTAY where are you? :-D


Maybe she just doesn't need us anymore?

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taytay056 Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 3:46pm
post #13 of 14

AWhoa, whoa, whoa...of course I need you guys! I've been a mostly silent stalker around here for years now, and you all have taught me pretty much everything I know! I've just been a little busy since we got back, putting my house back together since the babysitter let my little tornadoes destroy it.

Thanks so much for all of the advice. I'm glad I didn't even have to be prepared with salary requirements, as I have with pretty much every job I've ever had. They have it all set up on a pay scale so that was easy.

I see that my last post...well, uh, I'm not really sure what happened there. I guess that's what I get for insisting on using my iDevices for everything. Oops.

Okay, so, the job interviews...We loved the company, we got job offers, and we're trying to figure out how to get moved down there within a month. My husband will make $15,000 more than he does, and I will make at least $10,000 more so that will cover the cost of living issues, I figure, even if neither of our jobs work out long term, it will be a push for us to get to the area- I've wanted to move there since I was in high school, and there is so much more opportunity for chefs & decorators.

The bakery is awesome. They are so well organized, there are different departments for everything (gumpaste figurines, bakers, cake torting & filling, cake decorators, cookies, etc.), they have specific time and quality standards for completing jobs that qualify you pay increases, and they are always busy.

Unfortunately, our schedule was not well planned out (I think maybe the owner isn't usually the person who handles interviewing & planning) and by the time we arrived at the bakery after visiting the restaurant there was no pastry chef to give me a bench test (they work half days Monday apparently). That's ok, though, because I could use a little time to brush up on my buttercream skills- I have been using fondant for everything for a long time, and get some of the fondant they use to practice with it ahead of time.

So, now I have two options- go back down for a bench test so they can start me at $16-20 on my first day of work, or start my first day at $9-12 and be reviewed and given a raise within a week. I'm planning to go back for the bench test, since I need to find a place to live anyway. And I know from experience that "within the week" could really mean "later this month" or "whenever you bother someone enough to tick them off."

I want to get your opinions of the fondant...I didn't catch what she said clearly but I hear tropic so I'm pretty sure she was talking about Carma Massa Ticino Tropic, which I can't afford lol...maybe I can get a sample of it. Is it similar in workability to another brand, or a couple of them mixed?

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Stitches Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 3:59pm
post #14 of 14


Originally Posted by taytay056 
I want to get your opinions of the fondant...I didn't catch what she said clearly but I hear tropic so I'm pretty sure she was talking about Carma Massa Ticino Tropic, which I can't afford lol...maybe I can get a sample of it. Is it similar in workability to another brand, or a couple of them mixed?

Massa Ticino works great, I can't imagine you having any handling problems with it.

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