Landing a job at a ski resort is an impossible mission only accomplished by locals with deep connections or highly regarded winter athletes. These positions are so highly coveted that once they are filled, the employee will never leave that job. I’ve never worked in any field even remotely connected to ski resort operations, there’s no way I could get a job at one. These are just a few of the common misconceptions that keep people from ever chasing their dream and spending the winters in their favorite ski town.
Don’t let these misconceptions hold you back any longer from realizing the dream of working for a ski resort. There isn’t a more aesthetically pleasing backdrop to work in, it’s usually a fun and relaxed working environment, and of course, there’s that golden ticket called a season pass to hang around your neck. When I arrived in the western U.S. years ago, I was nothing more than a flatlander with no experience and no connections. What I lacked in specific experience I made up for with research and preparation, and a week before opening day, I had my choice of departments to work for. Here are the ways to maximize your chances of getting hired at a ski resort from my firsthand account.
The Internet is Your Friend
Whether you’re trying to land a seasonal gig or an outright career with a ski resort, the internet is going to be your best tool for gaining information about the jobs you want or the resorts you want to work for. Almost all ski resorts have detailed websites including sections dedicated to employment. In these sections, contact information for employment inquiries is often listed as well as current job openings. If no jobs are listed, it doesn’t hurt to send a copy of your resume with a short email asking about open positions. Even if no jobs are open at the time, someone will usually give you directions on the best route to gaining employment in the future. Try checking these sections in the summer or early fall for year-round or management positions as most resorts are trying to fill these spots before the mad dash of seasonal hiring begins. Resort web sites are often the best place to look for year-round positions and to find jobs in the offseason.
Working for a resort in the offseason can be an extremely underrated way to get your foot in the door. As more resorts seek ways to be financially profitable year-round, the need for summer seasonal employees is only going up. Consider looking online in late spring or early summer for a job in a busy offseason department like food and beverage or lift operations, and you will typically be offered the same position for the winter season. Working in the offseason is also a great way to develop relationships with year-round and management employees who could help you land a more desirable position in the future.
The Job Fair
Almost all ski resort employees are seasonal workers, and other than returning employees, the majority of these are hired at a job fair. Although the job fair can be an intimidating and dreadful experience for a lot of people, there is no reason why you can’t walk out of one with confidence. While my resort policy mandated a week after the job fair before offers could go out, I rested easy knowing I was one of the most prepared and professional candidates to attend. After a week, the offers started to pile up and after interviewing with six departments in total, I had five offers to choose from. Here’s how I had so much success without any experience.
Before You Arrive
Two of the most important things you can do to secure a position at a ski resort happen before you even step foot on the property. The first thing you should do is tailor your resume to the ski industry in any way you can, and the best way to do that is through a customer service slant. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked fast food, landscaping, or as a grocery clerk, your past work experiences have been customer service related in some way. Make a copy of your resume for every department you wish to apply for, and hand over a copy to the department head as you introduce yourself. If you have solid references, feel free to include a few along with your resume. Having a copy of your resume for each interview is instantly going to separate you from a large percentage of applicants.
The second way to instantly distinguish yourself from the crowd is your appearance. You do not need to wear a suit and tie, and I’m not telling you to cut off the ponytail you’ve been trying to grow out all summer, but these simple considerations will go a long way to getting you hired. First, check out that resort website we talked about earlier. In some cases, an employee handbook, including grooming standards will be available. If your current look doesn’t fall within the resort’s standards for employees, I’d highly suggest some changes before the job fair. A hiring manager is much more likely to hire someone that already meets company standards than someone who they’ll have to fight with to get a trim. Second, take a long look in the mirror before heading out the door. As I said, a suit and tie is unnecessary and probably a little too much for a job fair, but some khakis and a dress shirt are perfectly fine. Try tucking your shirt in, and instead of wearing your flashy sunglasses go with the more neutral pair in your collection. I’ve witnessed several decent applicants miss out on opportunities over the years because of a hiring manager not liking an applicant’s sunglasses or hat. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that distinguish us from others, so keep it as professional as you can.
At The Interview
The best advice I can give while at the job fair is to stay flexible and don’t be afraid to show your excitement for the opportunity to work at the resort. If your goal is to get a job at the resort, then no department or position should be beneath you, and you should be willing to apply to departments en masse. Don’t only set your sights on only the most competitive departments like the ski school or retail, and don’t be afraid to tell your interviewer how much of a dream it is to work at their resort. Most hiring managers started off on the other side of the table, so they understand what it’s like to dream about working for a ski resort and becoming a part of the culture. Remember your freshly tailored resume, and tie into customer service as much as you can with your past work experience. Show your willingness to learn and be trained and good things should follow.
Whether it’s snagging a highly sought-after position in the offseason or walking into a job fair and coming away with multiple offers, you should be confident that your past work experience and desire to be apart of the resort community will help you land that dream position. Keep these tips in mind and you will find yourself in a much stronger position to obtain a job at a ski resort.