Do you need to be an expert in craft beer to work in the industry? If you ask Celine Frueh, Human Resources Director at Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, the answer is no. Rather than an expertise in brewing, Frueh says that the best way to break into the craft beer industry is to have a sense of gratitude, be passionate, positive, curious, and show initiative. These traits more often than not can enhance the diversity of the team and culture of the brewery, and land you a sweet job in one of the hottest industries. In a recent interview with Frueh, she helped us unpack this information for folks looking to make a career change and who have their sights set on craft beer.
Top 5 Traits Breweries Look for in Employees
- Gratitude. Frueh says that one thing she has learned over the past seven years at Allagash is that great employees usually are able to see the good in situations and share their appreciation. “Gratitude is an important trait—what we have found in our most successful employees—are people who can feel grateful about something,” said Frueh. “They might be grateful for the coffee in the breakroom or things in their personal life; if it’s a trait that you go through your life with, that’s appealing to us because you’re going to add positivity to the workplace.”
- Be Passionate about what you do- not just beer. When Frueh first started working in brewing, she thought that any prospective employee had to have a passion for craft beer. But now, she has come to believe that anyone who works hard and has a passion for excellence in their work, whether it’s accounting or packaging on a production line, can be a great addition to the craft beer industry. “We found that people who have a strong work ethic, prioritize doing the job correctly and treat coworkers with respect, work out best for us. Appreciation for beer can come with time, but these personality traits are harder to cultivate.”
- Be Positive. Frueh often interviews prospective employees by asking questions that don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer, but rather provides an opportunity for the candidate to showcase their personality. She’s also keeping a keen ear out for a positive vibe. “I used to think even if someone doesn’t have a positive outlook on things, well, we have a great workplace, so they can get on board and be more positive. But I have consistently found that folks who complain a lot, or see things in a negative way, tend to drag down their teams. I now know that employees that are more positive, tend to contribute more to our culture in a productive and positive way.”
- Be Curious. Don’t worry too much if you don’t know the ins and outs of the craft beer industry, Frueh says, if you are innately curious, you’ll be a good fit. “We are really good at teaching about beer, it’s probably one of the things we are best at. We have vast knowledge of beer as a company, so we can teach people about beer; we want people who are hungry to learn and grow.”
- Show Initiative. HR Reps in craft brewing see a fair number of applicants who are looking to make a career change; Frueh says this can help to add diversity to their workforce. But she also explains that the “career changers” who can concretely demonstrate their drive to be a part of brewing, are the applicants that rise to the top. “It shows us a lot about who they are and how driven they are for this change if they have taken a course in the craft beer industry or hosted a monthly beer appreciation group. This shows action behind their words. It’s one thing to write a cover letter about changing careers and passion for enjoying craft beer, but if you are serious then show us that you are actively engaged in this change and are already trying to learn about this industry.”
There are additional resources at UVM to help give job candidates a leg up. The Business of Craft Beer certificate program offers courses in operations, marketing, distribution, and sales for craft beer. All courses are online, taught by industry professionals and encourage networking—another key to potentially landing that coveted job in craft beer.