Man In Disbelief At How Hard It Is To Even Get A Job Waiting Tables, Despite Having A College Degree

When it takes two months to get a restaurant interview, things are truly a mess.

man frustrated with how hard it is to get a job atlasstudio / Canva Pro

If you needed a signal that our bizarre job market has truly jumped the shark, it taking two entire months to get an interview to wait tables is as good a sign as any.

That's what happened to one man on TikTok who was just trying to get a restaurant job for a few months before he started graduate school. And while his expectations were in some ways unrealistic, his experience nonetheless underlines what an utter mess the American job market is.


He can't believe how hard it is to get a job waiting tables, even with a college degree.

The restaurant industry has suffered a staffing shortage for years now mostly due to the pandemic. While the industry finally recovered to 2019 staffing levels at the end of 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1 million job openings were still unfilled.

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So with all that drama, you'd think restaurants would be a fairly easy place to get a job — especially with all the "urgently hiring" signs we still see at practically every eatery and coffee shop we visit nowadays, right? Wrong — if TikToker Cade Alex's experience is any indication.

It took him a full two months, tons of phone calls and two in-person visits just to land an interview.

Alex was recently let go from his corporate job and is beginning graduate school in the fall, so he just needed a quick job to cover him for the four months in between. What he didn't bargain for was it taking nearly half of that just to talk to someone about a serving job.

"They opened a brand-new steak house just right by my house, and I read online that the serving job is $1200 a week," he said in his video. That sounded pretty good to him, so he filled out an application online.


But Alex knows how things work nowadays. "We all know where [an online application] goes: The garbage," he said. So he waited a week and followed up — over and over and over again, each time never hearing anything.

Then he did what every Boomer says to do and showed up in person. That, too, got him nowhere. Finally, he resorted to a personal connection, who gave him the lowdown on when to go to the restaurant and actually speak to the managers hiring. They, too, gave him the runaround.

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By the time he finally got an interview, they only agreed to hire him as a food runner for $8.50 an hour.

After weeks of the runaround, Alex said he was "losing faith." He'd gone and interviewed at another restaurant, but they refused to hire any servers without at least two years of previous serving experience. "You all keep saying that," he said, "so how am I ever supposed to get experience as a server if everyone needs experience as a server?!" 


Serving is a difficult job with a lot of moving parts, so this is standard industry practice, and for good reason. Still, Alex's frustration is understandable — people have to start somewhere, and shouldn't having a degree at least indicate you have the basic skills to learn how to wait tables? It's a highly skilled job but, I say this as someone who did it for nearly a decade, it's not rocket science!

In the end, when he finally got an interview at the steakhouse two months later, the managers had no memory of him whatsoever, and because of his lack of experience, they offered him a job that only paid $8.50 an hour. He'll get tips, too, but still — all that drama and persistence… to end up with $8.50 an hour?

Even worse, "at this point it took them so long to get back to me that I wasted almost two months with no job!" He went on to say that it felt "insane" that he had to go through "weeks of so much work… just to get an interview…. I literally might rip my hair out."


Tons of people on TikTok reported having nearly the exact same experience trying to get the most basic of jobs.

"Girl I have a Master's Degree and couldn’t get a job at BUILD-A-BEAR," one commenter responded to Alex's video — and never mind, THIS is how we know the job market is truly cooked.

That commenter and Alex were far from alone. "Everyone is hiring, but NO ONE IS HIRING," another added. 

Even veteran servers spoke of having similar experiences. "I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years," one server wrote. "I’m having to go through 2-3 round interviews for serving jobs. I used to be able to walk in and start working the next day."

Others spoke of having to go through three rounds of interviews for minimum wage jobs and being rejected from rudimentary clerical jobs for lack of experience — and some even said they'd resorted to simply lying about their experience in order to get anywhere. "It's the only way," one user wrote.


"I swear everyone says they’re hiring, and … it’s gotta be some sort of international joke at this point," another commenter wrote. With experts saying some companies are actually posting fake jobs just to give the illusion of growth, they're not exactly wrong. But being right doesn't pay the bills. Something's gotta give.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.