Philippa Orford, HR Manager at Consensio Holidays has written the following guide to help you get a ski season job...
Applying for a winter season job can sometimes be very frustrating, due to the sheer number of people fighting for these vacancies. Employers receive hundreds of applicants for their roles, here are just some tips on what will make your application stronger which may help differentiate your application from all the others. What is very important to remember though is this is purely my personal opinion; all HR managers/recruiters like different things and have different views on what is important in an application, how a CV should be laid out and what content should be focused on. But here is the way I like to see an applicant approach a company for employment... I hope it is of some help to you.
Before you start sending the same CV out to millions of different companies, stop and really think about what you want from your season. There is no point getting a job with a company that really doesn’t suit you in a role that you hate – as you’ll have a horrible season which will feel more like 6 years than 6 months. Do you want a fairly lower level company where they may be other staff of the same age? Do you want to go higher end and gain some valuable 5* hospitality experience? Do you want a chalet environment? Hotel environment? Etc. Also really think about what job would suit you; there is no point you applying for the role of chef if you have never cooked a dish in your life. Have a think about your skills and previous experiences and be sensible in choosing the role to ensure you have what the recruiter is looking for. Then once you have a clear idea in your mind of the resort you’d like, the environment you’d like and what role you would be well suited to you can actually start researching the job market more effectively.
When you come across a job that on first glance seems ok – DON’T just hit apply. Stop and actually read the job description in full and please please DO NOT apply if you clearly don’t have the experience that they are looking for. You are not only wasting your own time but the time of the employer. Some candidates think ‘I don’t have what they are looking for...but I will apply anyway as you never know your luck’. Complete waste of time as they will have lots and lots of applicants who do have what they are looking for and they’ll just roll their eyes when they come across your CV before sending a ‘no’ email to you – so ONLY apply to roles that you are suitable for.
Once you have fully read and understood the job description and feel competent that you could do the role then go and visit the company’s website. Get familiar with the product, have a look over the different resorts they operate in, the hotels/chalets in their portfolio and even have a look at the pricing to get a feel for the level of clientele they attract. Once you have completed this process in full then you should apply to the role but TAILOR your application. If I could earn £1 for every time I say this I would be a gizillionnaire by now – 1 good application that may take all day long is FAR BETTER than say 300 hundred rubbish, quick, un-thought about applications. I can spot a ‘good’ application immediately and always prioritise them – so it is definitely worth the time.
Basically DO one! And don’t send the exact same one to every employer under the sun; it is obvious when you do. I often get cover letters where the applicant has forgotten to change the name of the company or the job role that they are applying for!
By tailoring your cover letter you can show that you have been on the website by specifying specific chalets that there or you the resorts we operate in. I have read before on a cover letter ‘I have been on your website and am specifically interested in working in Morzine’ – we don’t have any chalets in Morzine! I want to read on a cover letter why you are interested in Consensio specifically, what is it that attracts you to us. Why you would be an asset to the company – outline your skills and experience and what you can bring to the role. Don’t list a tonne of adjectives in the hope that I will just believe you and think your amazing i.e. ‘I am hardworking, punctual, reliable, bubbly, dedicated, organised and proactive.’ What a rubbish sentence – anyone can write the words I want to see proof that you have these qualities. So you have to back up everything you are writing. For example: ‘I am seen to be hard working in my current role which has been recognised by my recent promotion. I have never been late or not turned up to my shifts and have only taken 1 sick day in the last 5 years... etc.’
If you meet most of the requirements outlined in the job description except 1 or 2 of them then don’t just ignore that fact. The recruiter isn’t going to forget what they want for the role! The cover letter is your chance to address it and assure us that you will still be able to perform the job well in spite of it. For example, if you need to have previous driving experience in snowy conditions but you haven’t actually got this experience then say that whilst you lack this experience you have had years of driving experience in France, in different types of vehicles and that you are confident that you will get used to the conditions very quickly. A cover letter is your chance for the recruiter to get to know you better and for you to convince them that you are the best person for the job. It strengthens every application so you’re daft not to bother.
This is very much dependant on the recruiters preference, we all like different layouts and different content... which I know is not massively helpful for you! But there are general points to note which are important to every employer.
The first thing I look for is Personal Details so having this first does always work for everyone. I don’t need to know absolutely everything here so don’t go into too much detail but your name, address and contact details (please don’t forget to have your phone number on there!) Some aren’t comfortable putting their DOB on, which is fine, but then be conscious of the amount of career history you chose to have there. You aren’t hiding much by not putting your DOB if you then put 30 years of career history and the dates you obtained your O Levels!
The next thing I look at on a CV is I scan your employment history – so in my mind I like for this to fall underneath the Personal Details. I scan initially to see if you have the previous experience that I need for the role – if I have stated that I need for you to have 5 years recent silver service experience I can very quickly see if you have or not. If your experience is the last 20 years in the banking industry and you have never worked in a restaurant in your life then you will be quickly discounted before I have even looked at your personal profile, cover letter or the rest of your CV. So this goes back to my earlier point of only applying to roles that you are suitable for. Because I scan the employment history first, it needs to be clear. So by glancing at it I need to quickly see your job role, place of work and dates of employment then with your responsibilities listed underneath. I do not need to see 25 years of employment history – no offence but I don’t care what you did that long ago as it is no longer relevant. I would suggest maybe the last 5-10 years; unless you have been in the same role for that long then perhaps pop your previous employer on but with a much briefer explanation of the role.
If you have the right level of experience then I will go through the CV in more detail and move on to read your personal profile. This should just be a few sentences to explain your current situation – not in terms of your job as I have read about that already – but in terms of why you are looking for a new role, why in France, why in this particular industry. Just so I can understand better why you want this job at this present time.
Lastly, regarding your CV, please be sensible and keep it to a couple of pages (absolute max 3 pages) and a sensible font. I have honestly had before someone write their CV in font 20 and it was about 8 pages. Ridiculous. Please also don’t think it is ‘cool’ to write it in Cosmic Sans – I don’t know why anyone would want their CV to look like a child has written it?!
If you are applying for a chef role, you may also be asked to provide a menu plan. Read the article on how to write a chalet menu plan for further advice.
Once you have applied I would always suggest following it up. So after maybe 24 hours call the recruiter if a number has been provided to see if they have had a chance to look over your application yet. Most job sites don't display contact details, but a quick search on the internet should enable you to find their website and a contact number.
Sometimes the recruiter will have had a chance to look and you have the benefit of building that rapport with the employer which will help your chances when the recruiter is shortlisting. If the recruiter hasn’t yet had a chance to look then they may be able pull your application out of hundreds and take a look there and then. It will also show to the employer that you are specifically interested in employment with that particular company by taking the time to call.
If you are offered an interview then appreciate that you have been chosen over hundreds and make the most out of the opportunity. You must PREPARE. I think some people think that as it isn’t an office job then they don’t need to make such an effort. You do.
I would expect interviewees to know the company inside out, know the resorts we operate in, know some of the chalet names that got their attention, know the service we offer, know the job description exceptionally well, know the competitors and know the other roles within the company so they can see where they slot in the company. This is your opportunity to really understand the company and role and if you are prepared you can really benefit for having that one on one time with the HR Manager. It is your chance to see if this is really for you as well as us seeing if you are suitable, interviews are always a 2 way thing.
You should also know where the interview is taking place so you are not stressing out on the day and be 5 mins early; not 20 mins early but just slightly early. Although this is ‘just a winter job’, I still expect you to dress smartly. There is no such thing as being over dressed for an interview. Have questions prepared and written down. Then if all of them are answered during the interview then at least the interviewer can see that you have 10 or so questions prepared in front of you.
Something that is a personal preference of mine and may not be to everyone’s liking is to receive an email from the interviewee later in the day or the following day thanking me for my time. A little does go a long way and it means a lot to me when I get a personal thank you for my time.
Video interviewing seems to be becoming more popular with those recruiters who are based out in resort. Treat your video interview as a real interview, by this I mean be prepared, be early and be dressed smartly. Laying in bed having just woken up and using your phone is not acceptable! Be sat somewhere sensible, with good lighting so that the recruiter can clearly see you. Be aware of things in the background that they can see, e.g. a glass of wine or a poster with swearing on the back wall are not things we want to see. Have a test conversation with a friend a few minutes before your call to ensure that the sound, microphone and camera are all set up and working well. Then just treat it exactly the same, have questions prepared in front of you, pen and paper to take notes ready and remember to turn your phone off!
Please don’t think you’re invincible after an offer is made. Many companies, including myself, then reference you. If I am not happy with any of the references I have received then I will immediately retract my offer. In the run up to the start of the season I expect to see a certain level of proactiveness, so I hope to receive your signed contract and completed paperwork in a timely manner. I would expect that your commitment deposit is paid promptly. I would also hope you stay in touch every now and then; it worries me when I recruit someone in July then not a hear word until the start of the season.
When you arrive in resort ready for training, with most companies you are on a probation period which basically means that you will be sent home if you are not meeting our expectations. So although you have successfully passed the interview stage and an offer has been made you are still required to perform well throughout training and then continue to keep up the standards throughout the season.
The training period is a great opportunity for you to shine and been noticed by management – but make sure it is for the right reasons! You are constantly being watched during training and based on your performance will affect the chalet and team you are assigned to. I need to see every member of staff participate in sessions, be punctual, smartly presented, proactive, asking questions and generally proving to me that I did the right thing in offering you the job.
At Consensio we offer very attractive end of season bonuses, this is to incentivise staff to perform well throughout the season and to complete their contract in full. So make the most of the opportunities given to you, appreciate being in the mountains and have a great season. I hope this help you in your job search and good luck! Maybe see you in the snow!