Deciding and applying to do a ski season is an exciting process but if you accept that first job offer that comes along, you may find your party animal mentality stuck in a quiet French hamlet for 5 months.
Before sending out those CV’s, take a minute to consider these points which will hopefully set you on the way to finding a sweet job for the season.
#1. What kind of job are you looking for?
This will dictate your whole season – from how much mountain time you get, to the types of company you could work for, to how much you’ll get paid.
An easy decision if you are qualified with a skill (chefs/nannies/instructors) but if your a multi-tasker – consider whether you would be more suited to working in a bar or ski shop than the classic chalet host job.
Read more A day in the life of a chalet chef
#2. How much mountain time are you hoping for?
The type of job you get in the mountains will impact on the amount of time you get to ski/board.
Joining a childcare team, for example, may limit your mountain time. Kids clubs and creches run during daytime hours and you may only get one or two full days out on the slopes.
Evening bar work is an ideal situation – but will those 4 am finishes and free shots start to take there toll during the season and eat into your mountain time?
Chalet teams usually get a nice balance of working for a few hours in the morning before returning to cook/serve dinner in the evening.
Working for a ski company which attracts families may mean you have to return to the chalet a bit earlier, as many serve a children’s tea between 5-6pm.
#3. What kind of resort are you hoping to work in?
Big ski town with plenty of apres ski bars and a banging nightlife?
Or small, quiet traditional, rustic resort frequented by locals?
If your working in a large team, a small resort may not necessarily be a drawback.
On my first 3 ski seasons, I worked and lived in a hamlet which was a 20-minute drive from the decent sized French resort of Morzine.
Despite having no access to a bar after the cheerful Frenchman shut his doors at 7pm, our team of 25 regularly got creative, hosting a murder mystery party and quiz nights, bin bag sledging and even building our own freestyle park complete with an ice bar and fire pit.
#4. What size (and kind) of company would you like to work for?
If you’ve not done a season before, applying to one of the big tour operators is the easy option but do consider if you mind effectively being a ‘number’ in a large team.
Spend some time researching different companies, apply for a few roles and if you are unsure, go to a few interviews and have a chat with the team to see who best matches your season requirements.
Check out the companies social media accounts too – some companies may have interviews or takeovers from current staff members which will give you an insight into the company.
Also, check to see if reviews have been left by past guests on Facebook or TripAdvisor to see if there are any potential problems in the team or company.
Small companies may also specialise in certain areas, for example, family skiing, gourmet skiing or snowboarding – consider if you have a particular passion or interest you’d like to develop during the season.
I’m waving the flag for working for a small company (having worked for three previously) who often have a real passion for providing a memorable holiday for guests and a worthwhile season for their staff.
On the flip side, if the small team doesn’t gel together it can make for a long and awkward season
#5. Working for an independent chalet/business vs working for a large company/tour operator
Working for a small/independent company/chalet
Ideal for: Experienced/mature (ie over 25!) season workers, skilled chefs, couples
- Potentially higher wages (and tips)
- If accommodation is included – maybe of a higher standard
- May have more creative control over menu planning and shopping (chef/hosts)
- You won’t be treated like just ‘another worker’ which is common amongst large tour operators
- More support and understanding from management.
- You may have to organise your own accommodation, lift pass and food which may be costly
- A lack of ready-made social group – can be more socially isolating if you aren’t willing to go and mingle in bars
Working for a tour operator /large company
Ideal for Novice season workers, party animals
- Preseason arrangements are taken care of – flights to resort, accommodation etc
- Often includes an employment package which typically includes:
Accommodation (anything from a triple bunk bed to a tidy twin room)
Ski/Board hire basic quality but perfect if you’re a beginner
Lift Pass sometimes with restrictions to smaller areas
Food may only include meals when on shift
(A small chalet company may also offer this package)
- Ready-made social group
- Larger companies may also have summer jobs in a variety of destinations – you may also get priority application if you have worked a winter season for them
- Generally, pay may be lower and any tips maybe split between the whole team
- Often less creative freedom for chefs/cooks who may have a set menu plan
- Maybe less likely to meet people from other companies – you may just end up socialising within your own team
- Potentially less pay for longer hours
#6. When is the best time to apply?
As soon as the previous season finishes, many companies will start planning for the next season which usually begins at the end of November or start of December.
Get your application in as early as possible to a pick of the decent jobs.
May/June Recruitment for most small and large companies
September/October Most companies have the majority of the team recruited – but a few niche roles may still be available
November Pre-season training for many chalet companies. Staff may start to arrive in the resort from late November depending on the ski area’s lift opening dates
December Staff arrive in resorts with most resorts open by mid-December/Christmas
January The common month for staff departures and a useful time to contact companies directly for any vacant jobs if you wish to only do a half season.
April End of the season and the recruitment process starts again!
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