“People need people”: Snowmass job fair seeks applicants for local gigs

Nearly 20 employers will look for staff at Wednesday event in Base Village

A “help wanted” sign hangs outside of Taste of Philly on the Snowmass Village Mall as people dine outside at local restaurants on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Ahead of Wednesday’s winter job fair in Snowmass Village, one thing was pretty clear to Sara Stookey Sanchez.

“People need people, right?” said Stookey Sanchez, who as the public relations manager for Snowmass Tourism has been making a big push for this season’s in-person job fair that takes place Dec. 1 in the Base Village Conference Room from 3-7 p.m.

“I think there’s a lot of jobs, there’s a lot of positions to fill,” she added in a phone call on Nov. 29.

You can say that again. Hiring challenges have been the talk of the town for months. The region faced area-wide labor pains over the summer that carried over into the fall and winter, too, and concerns that those difficulties over time could affect local character and the visitor experience have hardly faded into the ether. A lack of affordable housing options and a depleted workforce are both part of the equation, and the Roaring Fork Valley isn’t alone in the struggle to attract and retain workers.

But it isn’t an entirely new problem for Snowmass Village and other high-elevation towns and cities, Stookey Sanchez said. The town has been consistently hosting seasonal job fairs for local employers since 2019, prompted by requests from community members.

“I think for us in the mountain communities — so not specifically in Snowmass but any mountain community — the worker shortage has always been a challenge, and finding people to work and all that, and I think that even goes back to 2019,” Stookey Sanchez said.

“The initial idea really stemmed from members of the community coming to us, coming to our board and saying, ‘Hey, we’re having some issues hiring, can you help us at all?'” she added. “And so I think in 2019, we just said, ‘Yeah, absolutely, let’s do it, and then really have seen the need grow exponentially since then. I think the national shortage has really exacerbated the problem, but I think no matter what, we always kind of see challenges here in the mountains.”

That 2019 iteration was a success; a virtual go in 2020 also “yielded some good results,” Stookey Sanchez said. There was an in-person round this summer; Stookey Sanchez is optimistic that the winter fair on Wednesday will likewise help fill some of the open positions at nearly 20 different participating companies.

“I’m hopeful, we’re hopeful, people are hopeful that they’ll fill these positions,” Stookey Sanchez said.

Those positions include part-time, full-time and seasonal roles, with hourly wages in the $18-25 ballpark according to Stookey-Sanchez and yearly salaries for some gigs that could top out around $120,000 according to an online announcement for the event.

Openings run the gamut from hospitality and food and beverage industries to outdoor recreation to retail; participating employers include Aspen Skiing Co., The Romero Group, Ski Butlers, The Collective and a number of condominium complexes, retailers and restaurants, according to a preliminary list Stookey Sanchez sent in a followup email.

Pre-registration isn’t required; the town encourages prospective applicants to bring resumes but Stookey Sanchez said attendees should really “be prepared to just chat with people.”

“I think, really, it’s just to come — and most jobs these days are having a good conversation and making a connection,” she said.

Attendees who visit three or more employers at the job fair also will receive a $25 gift card for participating, according to the online event announcement.