December looms and the final scramble for resort jobs commences, made more dog eat dog than usual by rising unemployment, lack of graduate opportunity, Tory Cuts and general grim-oop-northness. The whole thing is looking like a nightmarish rerun of the mid 80s, though I’m hoping we’ll be spared the worst excesses of it this time round – I don’t think I could deal with having to revisit all that business with fluorescent Nevica and poodle perms to a soundtrack of Adam and the Ants, Gary Numan and assorted sensitive-looking young men in skinny jeans and scary eye makeup. The whole decade looked like a cross between emo and Blake’s Seven.
Late jobseekers should make their way immediately to Natives, where employers try to make toilet-cleaning for £30 a week and a sub-student hovel sound like your dream career, the site’s sales bods attempt to boost advertising revenue by signing you up for their jobs by e-mail alert (usually a random selection of posts chosen with no reference to the criteria you entered) and the denizens of the forum discuss what to take with you (socks), who to work for (not TUI) and what sort of shoes people should bring (Ugg boots. Or not, depending on your point of view).
Potential toilet-cleaners need not be deterred by figures on the jobsearch page showing over 43,000 registered candidates chasing barely more than 600 jobs. That 43,000 includes a few people like me who already have perfectly good jobs and are just keeping an eye out for anything better; a lot who signed contracts weeks ago, have already packed and are even now posing in front of their bedroom mirrors in all their ski gear; and several who signed up five years ago, did one season and now have small children, a four-hour commute and a lifetime of worrying about a mortgage which is three times what they can afford and will send them bankrupt the minute interest rates rise by a nanopoint.
Mind you, the claim of over 600 live jobs is also a bit dubious when a search on ski jobs in any sector and location only turns up 200 results, but not to worry – this just means that all the figures are bollocks, so there might easily be no more than five jobseekers, two of whom have only one leg.
But whatever’s really out there, you need to get your skates on if you’re going to get yourself out here by Christmas. A quick trawl through the jobs available reveals that we’re getting down to specialist posts which are hard to fill because anyone with the required qualifications takes one look at the salary ‘package’ and wets themselves laughing.
There’s plenty of nannying around, but the job has several major disadvantages built in – small children, for a start. Not to mention the fact that the reason parents want to ditch their anklebiters is so they can go and have fun on the slopes, so your chances of getting any sort of significant ski time vary between slim and none. The result of this is that nannies spend most of their spare time either eating cake or getting drunk, which means that by mid-February you’re likely to need a whole new wardrobe and a gastric band, both of which make a dent in a seasonnaire’s wages.
Alternatively you could try for resort management – technically you need fluent French and previous resort experience for this one but at this late stage they’ll probably have a look at you if you went skiing once at primary school and can say ‘bonjour’ without falling over your own tongue. Anyone with a half decent line in corporate management wank should be able to blag one of these jobs, but be warned that when you get there you will find that your lack of resort experience combined with your inability to speak to anyone who isn’t English will stretch your working hours to about 80 a week and you’ll get even less ski time than the nannies.
There also remains (as ever) a lot of cheffing. Which can mean anything from five-star near-Michelin standard catering for heavily armed Russian oligarchs, down to former burger flippers punting out chips and chicken nuggets to mobs of malnourished schoolchildren. Anyone who knows his way round a freezer and a deep fat fryer should be able to land assistant chef at the bottom end of things, but I wouldn’t like to blag the oligarch market unless you want to risk being shot when they take exception to being served lasagne and chips.
If there’s any of it left (and there seem to be a few positions around) your best bet has to be chalet work, which involves cooking, cleaning and being nice to people. Granted some of the people in question will on occasion be complete arseholes (having inexplicably failed to appreciate the wisdom of being at least not downright rude to the staff tasked with preparing their food), but at least they naff off back to their mortgages after a week.
And a final tip: don’t apply for anything with the word ‘executive’ in the job title. It means dogsbody in boring office job – you could do that at home for five times the money.