The Seasonality of Ski Resort Employment
Each winter, usually starting in November for most of us in the northern hemisphere, winter sports enthusiasts flock to the mountains to spend anywhere from one week to six months, living, working or playing on the snow. For the so called Seasonaires who get to spend the whole winter in resort, the journey to secure a paid job can be a long one, starting far earlier than many people realise.
We thought it would be interesting to give you an insight into how a season works for us here at OutdoorJAC. Find out how we try to find the best ski season jobs, and then fill them with candidates; allowing our advertisers to relax and enjoy some down time, before the snow starts falling and the hard work starts all over again.
To keep costs down and to remove the element of risk that ski companies have to go through each year, they will always try to re-hire their best staff for the following season. Unfortunately a lot of people may only want to work a single season before resuming education or beginning a career. Others who do wish to do another season frequently wish to experience a different resort rather than ski the same snow again next year. So it is a very lucky company who can avoid some form of recruitment each year. That's great news for us and for you if you are looking for ski season work.
March and April
The period immediately before and following Easter is the earliest we start to get requests for staff. Before this date, if we try to speak to anyone they are usually still in the thick of it. And we usually check the local snowfalls before picking up the phone as late season is when chalet owners especially, cut themselves some slack and enjoy a bit of time on the piste. A surprising number of them still pick up the phone! This year our first advert was for chalet staff and we received it in mid March. We still have plenty of people looking at the website, no doubt inspired by the winter sports they have seen in the news, so applications begin to come in as soon as jobs get posted. At this point we spread the word through our social media channels to spark even more interest.
May, June and July
There are two schools of thought when it comes to ski season recruitment, and it is difficult to say which is the most popular. The first group, are those who get to the end of the season and don't want to think about recruitment. The second want to get everything in place for the following winter season quite early, and will advertise the bulk of their ski season roles during the summer. It is frequently the larger companies who wish to begin their recruitment early, probably because they have more staff to find. Although they then run the risk that staff who initially agree to work for them, find something better in the intervening period.
Our snowsport instructors, chalet staff, catering and general ski resort staff sections will being to fill with vacancies during the summer period though interestingly there is often a lag as applicants tend to apply in largest numbers from late summer.
The moral of the story – statistically speaking, your best chance of employment, is if you apply during early summer when they are more jobs but less applications.
It does sometimes feel unusual to be working on ski side of what we do, and writing lots of articles about ski recruitment during the height of summer, but it all helps to attract candidates. Out summer newsletter often concentrates on ski, letting our large mailing list of subscribed ski and snow enthusiasts know that we have plenty of jobs and courses to tempt them during the coming season.
August, September and October
Back from a well-earned break (on a tropical beach somewhere if they have any sense), come the ski employers who probably don't need a lot of staff and are content to start their recruitment from late summer and through the autumn. Maybe they realise that most of you don't actually start applying for winter season jobs until this time anyway.
And if our experience is anything to go by, they aren't even missing out on the best candidates. Some
scientific research of the applications we have received over the past six seasons shows that there is no obvious fluctuation in quality until after the season has begun.
At this point you are more likely to get applications from people who are scratching around for something to do, but qualified and experienced seasonaires are every bit as likely to apply for roles in September as they are in June.
The snow has started to fall and you would expect our phones to be quiet, with companies giving their new staff final briefings and training in resort. But we are never done recruiting at this time of year. We always get last minute calls from ski companies in a pickle. Let down through no shows or last minute telephone calls from people unable to fulfill their previous commitment, the race is on to find suitable candidates in short order! We quickly put out adverts and dig through recent CVs to find suitable candidates who may help save the day. Because most ski advertisers are done by this point, we have a bit more time to work on these adverts and more space on the website to give them that extra visibility.
December and January
The season is underway but there is still no let up in the need for staff. There will be a variety of reasons why staff do not make it through to the end of a ski season, but for a frightening large number of cases it is due to injury. Broken limbs aren't funny for the individual, but they aren't exactly a laughing matter for their employer either as they are suddenly forced on the hunt for a replacement. We sympathise a great deal with this situation and do everything we can to help out, so much so that we have developed a bit of a reputation for being the go to place for ski employers when their backs are against the wall!
From November onwards the type of recruitment changes from the relatively leisurely job advert > applicant shortlist > interviews and job offer, to finding someone with the right experience and skills and then getting them on a plane, fast! If you are a half way decent candidate, make sure you get yourself on our CV shortlist as this is often the best way to get a job once the season is looming.