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The Employee Journey -- pt.3 Deciding what position to apply for

So, the reason it has taken me so long to do another blog is that I am enjoying the benefits of the seasonal hospitality industry and taking a long vacation. My wife and I are enjoying the winter hospitality industry and some indoor water parks back home in Wisconsin. I want to thank everyone for all of the great comments on my last blog. The latest discuss the compensation structures of certain positions and whether they are fair or not. That dovetails very well in to this blog’s topic. My last blog was about picking the right place(s) to apply at. This blog will cover choosing the right position(s) to apply for.

Too often people pick a position to apply for without really thinking about it enough. They think, I was a bell person last year, so I should apply for that again. Or, I work at Starbucks so I should automatically apply for a barista position. Those indeed might be the best positions for you, but you should not just do what you have done before without examining your options. You may have noticed a common theme in these blogs, spending some time thinking.

I think this advice can be followed no matter what type of job you are looking for, it just happens to be born from the seasonal job searches I have done. Sit down and right out a list of your strengths without having a particular job in mind. Are you a people person? Do you like working early mornings? Do you seek a lot of recognition or do you prosper behind-the-scenes? Can you stay calm under pressure? Great problem solver? Good listener? These are the types of things to consider. Once you know your strengths you need the other side of things, a list of your weaknesses. Do you lack quality work experience? Is there a language barrier? In seasonal work the dates you are able to work are very important. Can you only work 3 months when your employer is open for 5? When you are done with this you will have a better idea of who you are, and just as important, who you are not. (Oh yeah, keep this list handy. You will need it again when we get to some interviewing advice.)

Now focus on what you want to get out of your summer. You should have done a lot of this when you narrowed down your possible employers. As Mark Metcalf said to Dee Snider (random Twisted Sister reference for those of you younger than 30), “What do you want to do with your life!?!?!?” Ok, not your life, just your season for now. A big part of picking a position is finding your answer to that question. Do you want money? A vacation more than work? A chance to network for the future? A chance for promotion? A supervisory role?

Let’s break these down. If you are after money, a serving or bartending position is probably for you. It can be and is debated whether this is fair or not, but it is usually the truth. Housekeeping positions are also a surprise money maker in many locations because they offer plenty of hours. At my lodge, housekeepers usually get 48-50 hours per week in a 6 day work week. Overtime adds up quickly and is very nice on the paycheck. Another bonus is that most places are always looking for housekeeping employees. Looking for a vacation where you just happen to work a little bit. Avoid serving or bussing, these positions work a lot of split shifts that consume your whole day. Baristas usually start early and offer free late afternoons and evenings. If you are good with numbers a night auditor position also offers free days for hiking or tours. Check out the gift shop as well. That is usually an area that has 40 hour weeks or less with few if any really late evenings. Avoid Front Desk because the desk never closes so you may be working lots of varied shifts and needed hours. Looking to network this summer, look for something (anything) in your desired field. I want to address something quickly here; housekeeping positions have a negative stigma for some reason. Guess what, if you are a hospitality management student, you need to know how housekeeping works. Take a position there. Dishwashing is important too, though not glorious. But if you want a future in the restaurant business, you need to know the essentials, and they aren’t always pretty. Looking for a chance at promotion? Again, try housekeeping. Leadership positions usually open up over the course of a season, and a hard worker can get them based on 1 or 2 good months. At my lodge we have 6 housekeeping supervisors. In each of the last 4 seasons at least one of those positions has come open within 2 months. That position, along with its authority and better pay, could be yours. Want to be a server but don’t have experience, try for a bussing or hosting position. Before long a few servers are going to get fired or quit and your manager will be searching for a replacement, and you can be Johnny-on-the-Spot.

Lastly, a few tricks. If you want to tour a lot while you work seasonally, look in to a position in tour sales. Many companies pay their sales people to go on the tours so they understand them better and can sell them. Often front desk positions also get these perks. Get in there and you will knock out your tours before a month is over. If you really want to work in a particular place, call them up and ask which positions get the most hours. A position will get a lot of hours because it is hard to fill. Less applicants means you are that much closer to a job. If you are hoping to travel and work with a friend from home, strongly consider applying for different positions than each other. Many managers are afraid that friends traveling together will want the same days off every week which is difficult to do. There is also the danger that if one friend leaves the other will automatically leave as well, creating a staffing problem for that department.

I hope this blog helps you a little bit when facing your job application process. Next up will be some advice to get your application to the top of the stack and procuring an interview. Again, thanks for the blog comments, they are greatly appreciated.

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Comment by Ben Hopper on August 4, 2009 at 5:26am
Nice link, I like that really much. :) I am actually pretty glad, that something like YouTube was invented. Really extraordinary. I already have an executive job that I really like, but my problem is that I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me and I am quite afraid, that this might risk my job in some ways. Life is not as easy as I'd wish. But anyways. I like that song you postet. :) it's great.
Comment by Rick Peterson on December 17, 2008 at 8:57pm
Most lodges have a small grounds staff that is part of the maintenance department. In this time of enhanced budget awareness unpredictability concerning tourism, I think many places are cutting back their groundskeeping budget. Because you are part of the maintenance department, there is usually a random drug testing program. Expect to mow a lot of grass and also work as a "jack-of-all-trades" type of person throughout your days.
Comment by Tim Pierce on December 17, 2008 at 5:40pm
Hi Rick sounds like you really know whats going on. I'm new to all this and was wondering what you could add about ground maintance/maintance jobs? Anything would be a help. I would really appreciate any advice you could pass on.
Comment by Alex on December 17, 2008 at 10:05am
What sort of hours do luggage handlers get at the Princess Lodges?
Comment by Kate on December 17, 2008 at 1:35am
I know about Twisted Sister too lol :) Grew up around that kind of music.
Me, I am someone who really thrives in just being a contributing member of a team and being involved with people, as in making friends as well as giving the most-empowered guest service I can! Plus the whole nature thing rocks too. Great post! Retail has been the best combination of things for me....people, service, etc.
Comment by Coly Hope on December 16, 2008 at 4:12pm
I agree that the best department to go for if you are looking for a promotion is housekeeping. I started out as a room attendant and finished the season as a supervisor. I knew one person who started as a room attendant and finished as an assistant manager.
Comment by akscootr on December 15, 2008 at 10:55pm
Good advice for finding a satisfactory job.... It should help a lot of folks choose the right position.
Comment by Rick Peterson on December 15, 2008 at 10:44pm
I love that you brought the YouTube link. Kari, you rock!!! Did I ever tell you I met Mark Metcalf? Had dinner with him 2 times at his restaurant in Mequon, Wisconsin.

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