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Chris Sieroty

Job applicants dive head-first into pool season

29 January 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Although we're only a month into the new year, most Las Vegas resorts and clubs are looking to hire hundreds of pool greeters, mixologists, and food and beverage servers for the seven months that is pool season on the Strip.

For some people, that means returning to the same minimum-wage-plus-tips jobs they held last year, while for others it's an opportunity to break into the industry and work at some of the city's hottest resorts.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is holding job fairs and auditions to fill nearly 200 positions at the resort's Boulevard and Bamboo pools.

"We aren't just looking for people who want a job," said Daniel Espino, vice president, people at The Cosmopolitan. "We want people who get excited … and who are looking to work in the hospitality industry."

To fill a couple of hundred positions, Espino and his staff observed and interviewed 1,500 job applicants, who spent Wednesday making their way through the various stations set up inside the Chelsea Ballroom.

"We have a more personalized approach to hiring," Espino said. "Our ideal candidate wants to be in the hospitality industry and can connect with people."

Espino said the first step in the audition process is breaking up job applicants into groups of 10 to 12 people. It's about observing how applicants interact with each other and how they handle a social setting, he said.

A Cosmopolitan talent acquisition manager will monitor the table of candidates, taking notes before deciding who moves forward to the next stage - one-on-one interviews with resort managers.

After the interviews, job candidates are notified the next day whether or not they're invited back for an audition. Some applicants have been notified immediately that their auditions would be held this week.

"It's a chance to better yourself," said Anthony Wu, an unemployed mixologist in Las Vegas. "I want a job and I'll take anything I can get. It's still a bad economy."

Wu, 28, spent a weekend studying a Cosmopolitan specialty drink menu for his audition. He'll get one chance this week to prove himself to the hotel's staff mixologists.

"I'm pretty familiar with their menus," Wu said, "I'll do the best I can. I have a 50-50 chance of making it."

Wu compared his job search to dating in Las Vegas.

"I've been out on a lot of first dates … and you're hopeful one of the people will give you an opportunity to shine. I just want an opportunity."

Espino expects to have his staff in place at least a week before pool season begins in late March. The $3.9 billion resort is looking to fill other positions as well, including managers and lifeguards.

"People want to come here," Espino said. "We see a decent amount of people who say they want to work here because the brand has resonated with them or they're curious about The Cosmopolitan."

For Cindy Wilson, interviewing for a pool server position was a short break from studying for her licensing exams for nursing in Nevada.

Wilson put nursing school on hold to spend 45 minutes answering questions, waiting and then answering more questions.

If a Cosmopolitan talent acquisition manager likes what she said, Wilson will be back this week to audition for a beverage server position. If she's hired, she'll go through a three-week training course and take her final exam.

That final includes serving the resort staff and managers who will be simulating everyday situations and interactions, including rude and drunken customers.

"I came to Las Vegas (from Yuma, Ariz.) for nursing school," Wilson said as she waited with other job seekers for the one-on-one interview. "I've always been told I should try and get a seasonal job at a casino."

Wilson, 25, who is four months shy of graduating from nursing school, said she chose The Cosmopolitan because she already has spent hours by the pool or in its bars and clubs. She said it's about earning some money while she studies for her state medical exams.

"This is my only interest. I haven't applied at any other casino," Wilson said. "This is what I'm supposed to be doing."