Ski Corp. begins annual hiring process | SteamboatToday.com
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Ski Corp. begins annual hiring process

— Trish Sullivan was looking for 250 outstanding personalities in the ballroom of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel last week.

Sullivan, vice president of human resources for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., and her staff are launching into the annual task of rehiring and hiring about 600 ski-season workers for jobs ranging from lift operators to spa attendants.

With Ski Corp.’s emphasis on outstanding customer service, Sullivan said personalities counted for a lot at the job fair.

“The best applicants are enthusiastic, friendly individuals,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking for people who can provide outstanding guest service, whether it’s on the front line or behind the scenes.”

This marks the second year the ski area has held its job fair in August rather than in late fall. Steamboat spokesman Mike Lane said part of the reason for the early job fair is to give area residents first crack at the openings.

“Our staff is just heading out to visit job fairs at summer resorts like Glacier and Yellowstone national parks,” Lane said.

The 2004 job fair also comes about 13 months after the ski area announced changes in its health benefits package in July 2003. People holding about 50 part-time positions lost access to health benefits through the ski area. Other employees have access to health insurance but are paying more for it.

At this stage in the hiring process, Sullivan does not think the changes to the health care plan have hurt recruitment.

“There are seasonal, full-time employees who have worked for us primarily because of the health plan,” she said. “But we still have a very competitive plan for our industry,”

In terms of the changes to benefits causing turnover among seasoned employees, Sullivan said it’s early for her to characterize that situation. Letters seeking a response from returning employees are not due back yet, she said.

“It’s early for us to know exactly what the impact will be,” Sullivan said. “It could have an impact because, while seasonal employees in their third season or more have access to our comprehensive plan, they are paying a higher rate when they are not working for us.”

Many of the ski area’s seasonal employees are recruited from the ranks of young adults, many of whom are taking a year off from college, or a year to snowboard before launching permanent careers. However, the ski area continues to attract older people who have had successful professional careers and seek a change, Sullivan said.

“It’s a very diverse and fun work force,” Sullivan said. “They range from kids right out of high school to attorneys and physicians.”

Steamboat also relies on an international work force and has boosted the number of work visas it applied for this year back to 2002 levels.

The Ski Corp. applied for about 240 H2B visas this year, up about 100 from the fall of 2003, Sullivan said. That step was taken after expectations that rising unemployment nationally would increase the number of domestic job applicants.

“The previous year we had revised the number of visas downward in response to unemployment levels,” Sullivan said. “We wanted to try to fill the positions with domestic workers. We ended up last season not being able to fill all of the jobs.”

The H2B visas allow foreign nationals to come to the United States for finite periods of time to take specific jobs.

The hotel ballroom was lined with decorated tables Aug. 10 where hotel and ski area department managers were interviewing applicants on the spot. Applicants also were able to view descriptions and pay scales of available jobs posted on the walls.

All of the jobs offer unlimited skiing and snowboarding for employees and free skiing and riding for their eligible dependents.

The pay scale for lift operators begins at $6.59 and goes up to a mid-range of $8.79 and a ceiling of $10.54. Noncertified ski instructors begin at $8.50 with the potential for raises to $10.98 and $13.18.

The posted pay scale for childcare providers at Kids Vacation Club begins at $7.29, but the ski corp. is offering $9 an hour to start this year. The scale tops out at $11.67. Child-care workers must provide two letters of recommendation with one reflecting a child-care background. They also must complete a CPR and first-aid class.

The ski area is seeking to fill the position of snowmaking controller and snowmaking foreman later this fall. Those jobs demand experience and supervisory skills, and the pay is more rewarding. The pay scale for a snowmaking controller begins at $10.61 and goes up to $16.97. The foreman could come in at $11.86 and could some day make a maximum of $18.98.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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