There's no Business Like Snow Business
by Efrem Leigh, Voovs
Well this winter is almost over, you have survived the train strikes, the rain, your Xmas party, summer looms but what to do next winter? You don't want to be home again next Xmas sitting around with the rellies. Do you ..?
You have two choices 1) stay in sunny England and get soaked and miserable or 2) head for the slopes of Europe's best ski resorts and work and play where other people only dream of being!
Growing up in Cape Town, Efrem Leigh, the managing director of www.findaskijob.com, a leading ski recruitment specialist, had never seen snow until he came back to live in England and he soon got a taste for the slopes in his late twenties when he worked in Val d'Isere in France as a chalet hotel manager.
He says 'It's never too late to get a ski job. www.findaskijob.com can help you to secure your place on the slopes. Ski companies start recruiting staff at the beginning of the summer, some as early as May/June and they complete their teams with key personnel such as chalet hosts, chefs, reps, nannies and managers positions all through the summer.
Most of the general jobs get filled very quickly in the early summer, so if you are not sure what you want to do start applying now. General jobs range from kitchen porters or plongeurs, hotel hosts, bar staff and assistant chalet hosts. There is a lot of competition for these sought after jobs, so if you have some restaurant or bar waiting, chambermaiding, bar or kitchen experience you will set your self apart from others when applying or even at an interview. A language skill will also be a requirement if you are looking to work in a public bar or restaurant.
www.findaskijob.com offers you a FREE service where you can go to their website and get help with job descriptions, tips and advice on working a season and help with interview technique and more. Once you know which jobs you are interested in and where and who you want to work for then browse through their job listings and apply for any jobs directly with some of the best ski employers with the click of a button. It really is your one-stop-ski-job-shop!
Most employers will offer you your accommodation, food, ski pass, ski gear, insurance, uniform and transport to and from the resort as part of your package. Wages are on average between £50 and £75* per week for general jobs, with chalet hosts paying between £60 and £100 per week depending on the size of the chalet and your skills. Chefs and managers can earn between £100 and £200 per week. This may not seem much but all your other costs are paid so this is money at your disposal! Most companies will pay your salaries into a UK bank account where you will pay a small amount of Tax and NI. Make sure you have insurance cover whether taken with the company or your own. Help with asking the right questions at interview is available at www.findaskijob.com. Be warned hours can be long and it isn't uncommon to work a 50 to 60 hour week! Chnageove rday when the old guests leave and the enw ones arrive is a particularly long gruelling day as you have to clean the chalet or hotel from top to toe and have it looking as good as new for your new arrivals!
If you are a competent cook and think you can run a chalet on your own or with a friend or partner then the ski companies and private chalets want to hear from you as well. You must be able to design and serve a mouth-watering dinner party style menu for 6 nights of the week within a budget. Many companies offer you tips and advice on their own training course at the beginning of the season so if you have the confidence and want to run your own chalet for the season there is no better job! If you are not sure your catering skills are up to the right standard then why not look at investing in a cookery course. www.findaskijob.com lists all of the top cookery schools for you to choose from and the money you invest is repaid in part by the higher chalet host wage you could earn. Once you have done the course you have the skills to take with you for the rest of your life and it is therefore a worthwhile investment. Efrem says that he always has companies on his books that are looking for cooking staff for either the winter or for the summer. '
He says 'working a ski season can be a great way to experience the fun of life in Europe and opportunities exist to continue into the summer months as many companies have summer programmes as well. At www.findaskijob.com we can help you with both summer and winter jobs and we offer hands on advice as we have done many of the jobs ourselves.'
'Every winter between 5000 and 8000 jobs are available in ski resorts and you have to be able to work hard and then you can play hard as well. Some people do get caught out in the trap of the ski season party black hole. Christmas is usually the first week of guests and many people don't keep the balance between working and playing right and many find themselves ill, injured or sacked in early January if they get it wrong.
Companies are now looking more and more for experienced, dedicated team players to form their resort staff. They need hard workers who have good experience or qualifications either in catering, sales, management or customer facing environments.'
Efrem says 'that chalet work is a great option if you have bags of personality, good cooking skills or experience and loads of stamina. An average chalet day starts around 730am with breakfast for your guests and packed lunches for them to take with them to the slopes. This is followed by cake baking and then cleaning the chalet and getting as much food prep done for the evening meal as you can. You tend to have one major shopping trip a week and top up during the week but try to keep that to a minimum to give you more time to get on the mountain. The secret is getting your prep done and being organised in the kitchen. You usually finish by around 1130/1200 and get on the mountain until about 430/5 when you return to clear away the afternoon tea and get dinner started. You should be finished and cleared away by 930/10pm and then the night life of your resort awaits!'
Efrem also stresses though that 'you cant lose sight of the fact that many people have paid a lot of money for their holiday and they do expect good food and excellent service. Most companies will send you to resort for a week to undergo one of their training courses which are hard work, very intensive but great fun as you get to know your fellow workers and who has the worst drinking and partying habits! They show you the standards they expect you to deliver and teach you about the ski product and what to expect running your own chalet. Some companies allow you to sit and eat with your guests which is a great way to meet all sorts of interesting characters and the tips are normally good at the end of the week. This is a bonus as the chalet wages tend to range from £60 to £100 per week depending on your skills and the standard of chalet you are running. Efrem recalls 'walking up the high street of his resort dressed only in a black bin liner on his way to a S&M party at a local night club with some of his guests who ranged from a heart surgeon, anaesthetist, doctor, nurse to a carpenter and banker.'
Qualified or trained chefs are also highly in demand by ski companies and private chalets. www.findaskijob.com place many well-qualified chefs with employers during the winter and summer and are always available to offer impartial advice on whether a chef should take a chalet or hotel cooking role. Either way you will still have time to get up the mountain as the secret is in the 'mis en place'.
If you have good sales and people skills why not look as working as a resort representative. These roles offer close guest contact and you will often go on the coach to the airport to meet and greet the guests for your resort, sell them ski packs, après ski and ski passes on the journey back to resort and then deal with the guests once they are in resort. Because these are sales based roles the basic wages tend to be around £50 to £75 per week and the rest is topped up with commission you would earn on the sales each week.
If you have any managerial experience then there are plenty of options open to you whether as a bar, chalet or hotel manager or working as a resort or area manager. Opportunities also exist for admin, accounts, reservations, IT and office staff in the resort offices. Not forgetting the variety of options open to you back in the head offices of the ski companies in sales, reservations, accounts, marketing or HR!
Before you clammer for your PC to log onto www.findaskijob.com be aware that most UK ski employers can only take on British or European passport holders due to tough local employment laws, especially in France. If you can get a visa yourself then an employer would be happy to hear from you but normally you would need a job to be able to get a visa so its not going to be easy. Ages vary from company to company with many only taking on over 21's but it is worth applying to them all if you feel you have the skills and experience to add benefit to their product!
It is also definitely worth visiting one of the Ski Shows taking place around the UK as well before you go, especially if you have left your application until late and then the best way to get a job is to speak to employers in person.
Visit www.findaskijob.com or www.findasnowboardjob.com for listings of all ski and board events, listings of jobs, links to ski resort websites, dry slope listings, cookery course listings, guide books for sale and FREE friendly advice!
* Wages may no longer be current
Image courtesy Naeem Ebrahimjee