Ski resorts now hiring |

Ski resorts now hiring

Susan Wood
Provided to the TribuneGeoff Smith, left, a Heavenly retail assistant manager, joins co-workers retail manager Cathie Rahbeck and assistant manager Nicole Marlette in meeting with an applicant at one of the ski resort's job fairs last weekend.

Dot-commer transplants appear to be descending on Lake Tahoe this winter for reasons other than gobbling up vacation homes.

This time, many have chosen a lifestyle change, according to South Shore resorts in the midst of a hiring blitz for the coming season.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is having its job fair today from 3-7 p.m., Sierra-at-Tahoe hosts its fair Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Heavenly Ski Resort works on whittling down filling its 1,000 positions Oct. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Through a direct mail campaign, Sierra-at-Tahoe invited back 600 of its former employees to reapply at the Aspen Cafe this weekend for the hundreds of available positions ranging from cashiers and cooks to tubing hill attendants and snow reporters.

Forty ski and snowboard instructors from as far away as Croatia and New Zealand to Austria and Switzerland have committed to coming on board at the resort.

At its peak, the ski resort staffs between 800 to 900 employees – with an almost even split between full-timers and part-time workers.

This year, Sierra created a new position called e-commerce specialist.

Floods of applicants – 80 percent from the dot-com business – applied for the role, spokeswoman Megan Waskiewicz said.

Joe Conti, a South Lake Tahoe resident since March 1999, seized the marketing department spot.

Conti escaped the dot-com industry in the Bay Area, where he worked at Netscape during the week and visited Tahoe with his board on the weekends.

“I did the corporate thing. Then I thought, ‘What is life all about?’ ” he asked. Conti weighed the quality of life versus the big bucks and chose Tahoe.

“The more you make, the more you spend anyway. I feel very fortunate to be here,” he said.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is also witnessing the same kind of exodus from the Bay Area from prospective employees looking for a lifestyle change.

“The dot-com crisis has had an effect. We’re getting people who normally might not work at a resort, but they’ve decided to take the time off (from the field),” Human Resources Manager Dave Goldstein said. “We’re seeing a heightening in caliber of employee. I think the candidates are looking better this year. They have more job experience and are more professional. They’re interested in doing a good job.”

Kirkwood has hired 200 of the 500 people it hopes to hire, expecting to chip away at that number at its job fair held at the Red Cliffs Lodge today.

Next to the lodge, the Alpine County resort houses about 150 of those people.

“The housing market is definitely tight,” Goldstein said.

Last year, Diamond Peak Ski Are offered free ski passes to landlords who house their employees because of the lack of affordable housing – an option Sierra-at-Tahoe is somewhat considering.

The situation has seemed to ease a bit this year, as the inventory has increased.

Heavenly expects to more than double the seasonal employee housing to 175 this year through a lodging purveyor. It’s available on a lottery basis.

The South Lake Tahoe resort has seen no shortage of available applicants this year – more this season than last.

“We’re seeing college students taking time off to people looking for a lifestyle change. You couldn’t ask for a better office,” spokeswoman Molly Cuffe said, referring to the slopes.

Heavenly has already filled 350 of its 1,000 seasonal positions. At its peak, the ski area employs about 1,500 staffers. A fifth of these employees work year-round.

To fill the seasonal slots, Heavenly is hosting another job fair Oct. 27 at the California Lodge.

Squaw Valley’s job fair will be held Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Olympic House.

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