It's that time of year again in Whistler when the snowline starts creeping down the mountain, and droves of newcomers start arriving in town anticipating yet another stellar ski season.
With a massive influx of seasonal workers vying for limited jobs, it's also one of the most difficult times of year to find employment.
Whistler Chamber of Commerce's (WCC) new CEO, Val Litwin, thinks the key to finding work this busy winter season is being adequately prepared.
"A lot of people are so obsessed at finding the job first that they miss the opportunity to actually get their skills aligned to help them get the job," he said. "If you're trying to get a certain job here in town, find out what the requirements are and start to seek out training in Whistler to get you closer to that job, so you're that much more attractive when you sit down for an interview."
There are several training programs offered through the Chamber that can improve potential employees' chances of getting hired, including the Serving It Right course for liquor licensees and servers, and FoodSmart, which is mandatory for all food handling positions. The WCC is holding its next FoodSmart Level 1 certification course on Nov. 25.
Litwin also suggested those searching for service-oriented jobs enroll in the WCC's Spirit Program to give them a leg up in the application process. The program is an incentive-based initiative aimed at ensuring resort businesses, owners and employees maintain a high level of customer service.
"You don't have to have a job in Whistler to go through our Spirit Program," he said. "Any employer in town is going to make you do it once you get hired, so come to town, get yourself enrolled in the Spirit Program and then you're just that much more attractive to the employer."
Whistler Blackcomb (WB), the resort's largest employer, has filled approximately 75 per cent of its staffing requirements going into the ski season, according to director of employee experience Joel Chevalier. The ski resort operator typically fills 900 seasonal employee positions each winter, the majority of which are front-line staff, which includes lift operation, retail, food and beverage and guest services.
Hiring around half of its seasonal workers domestically, Whistler Blackcomb sends recruiters out to Toronto, Montreal, Kitchener, Waterloo and Barrie each year, where the company will hire around 250 out of its total 450 Canadian seasonal employees, said Chevalier. WB will also host a job fair Friday and Saturday (Nov. 1 and 2) at the Blackcomb Daylodge, where 900 interviews will be conducted for 150 positions.
With so much competition for so few positions, Chevalier had some tips on how to stand out as a candidate.
"If you can present well to the person who's interviewing you, who's likely a manager or supervisor of that area, then they're going to feel confident they can put you in front of a guest who travelled halfway around the world to be here," he said.
Chevalier also stressed the importance of being "service oriented" and "passionate about being, living and working in the mountains" as a WB employee.
One person who shares that passion for mountain culture is recent Aussie transplant Cameron McCool, who is trying to land his dream job in a very creative way this winter.
Rather than simply handing out his résumé to resort businesses, McCool decided to launch a digital campaign to get the attention of his potential employer and land the job as Whistler Blackcomb's new marketing coordinator.
Using the #HireCameron tag, McCool has taken to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the word, as well as creating a Tumblr site where a collection of shareable photo and video content captures the beauty of Whistler and its residents.
The campaign has drawn significant response online said McCool, who's also been approached by four companies from the U.K., Australia and U.S. to do some marketing work.
Going that extra step to stand out from other applicants is the key to getting employers' attention, according to McCool.
"Every year a tsunami of people come here looking for work, and you have to stand out. I work in marketing and I look for that 'wow' factor, and when I'm up against 20 to 100 other applicants, I'm sure that's what the employer's after, too," he said. "What I think people don't realize is: no one else is doing this, so make that effort to stand out and you'll get the call."