It's no secret, making a life in the ski industry is hard. Finding a job, affordable housing, scraping enough dough together for a season pass, and doing what you actually moved to a mountain town for, skiing, is daunting. Gard Skinner, founder of SkiResortJobs.org, wants to make that process a little easier.
"There was a huge lack in our industry of a central hiring resource," says Skinner. "There's ones for nurses, journalists, and even pilots, but there's not one for skiers."
So Skinner started SkiResortJobs.org, a comprehensive job-searching website dedicated to mountain-town employers and job seekers.
Featuring hundreds of jobs at nearly two dozen ski areas across the U.S., a number Skinner hopes to grow, Ski Resort Jobs lists occupations for everything from shuttle driver at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia, to Director of Sales and Marketing at Brundage Mountain, Idaho.
"Every dollar I've made in my life has come out of the ski industry," says Skinner, whose career began in 1981 at Bogus Basin as a ski instructor. Since then, he's worked in nearly every sector of the ski industry, including as the former publisher of Mountain Resort Magazine.
Skinner recognized the huge employment crisis that plagues many mountain towns, both for employers who can't seem to fill their rosters, and job seekers who can't find employment. With Ski Resort Jobs, he hopes to bridge that gap.
The website homepage features an interactive map, highlighting job openings at ski areas across the country, allowing skiers with a certain state or region in mind to fine-tune their search. For job seekers with a more specific position in mind, Ski Resort Jobs also allows users to sort jobs by department, including everything from ski patrol and lift operations, to retail and guest services.
Skinner says that while the site is still in its early stages, he's excited to see the possibilities down the road. Because resorts are in charge of posting their own listings, he says it's probably going to take a season or two to really fine tune the process to be easiest for the vast range of resorts across the country.
"Somewhere as big as Vail is going to have different hiring problems and processes than a smaller area like Bogus Basin or Grand Targhee,” he says.
Skinner referenced a Clint Eastwood line from his 1964 classic, Fistful of Dollars: "A man's life in these parts often depends on a mere scrap of information." He says that even just one job listing could help solve the make-or-break lifestyle of someone trying to make it work in a ski town.
"It's hard to make a living in ski town and working in this industry," says Skinner, who in a dozen years of living in Summit County, Colorado, said he’s probably had 30 or more jobs. "But the quality of the people, you won't find that anywhere else. It's going to be hard work, but it's worth it."