Dude ranches. Guest ranches. Whatever you call them, they offer incredible experiences with potentially life-changing benefits. And we’re not just talking about for the guests. For the people who come to work, there are tremendous opportunities and experiences as well. If you’re doing it right, being a part of a guest ranch staff is being part of a whole new family—a RANCH family—who share a common goal of providing an unforgettable vacation for others, while having an unimaginable adventure of their own. Here are the best tips for aquiring dude ranch employment.
Can you picture it? Waking up on a cool morning to the sounds of horse feet (unless you’re one of the wranglers and then uhhh…YOU’RE LATE!) coming in, getting a hearty breakfast from the kitchen and then spending your days laughing and sharing with the ranch guests you’ll want to keep in touch with for years to come? Eating your lunches out on the trail with your horse? Spending evenings listening to music and relaxing by a warm fire with others equally exhausted from the fulfilling day of hard work and fresh air? Do you love the outdoors? Lounging by the pool on your breaks? Getting served 3 meals a day? Being surrounded by beautiful countryside just waiting for you to explore it? Sounds pretty good, huh? So maybe you answered yeses to all the questions above, but let’s check out these ones, too. Really think about these ones. Can you work long hours and be counted on to do your part? Can you smile even when you’re having a bad day and leave your personal problems outside of work? Can you stop whatever you’re doing to make time for guests’ needs at the drop of a hat? Can you give the same genuine smile from morning til night?
Ok, so who’s still with me? If you are—GREAT!!!! It’s possible you’re a good candidate for potentially the BEST job you’ll ever have. You might be thinking, “I would love to come to the mountains! I have a great work ethic!” And that’s awesome. That’s step one. But I mentioned before that the competition is thick and the positions open are few. Every ranch is different, but we personally get hundreds of applications every year for just a handful of open positions. So when an application comes in, most ranches will likely be filing them or deleting them according to a couple of specific qualifications. And I’m going to do you a favor—I’m going to tell you how we do that. The following are essential to consider when you’re filling out that application though– so listen up!
We ask you when you’re available to work. It should be noted that some ranches stay open year-round and have a rotating staff while others are only open a few months. So BE FAMILIAR with the availability needs of the ranch you’re applying for.
2) Position Applied For At Bar Lazy J we ask you to put your top three choices. That doesn’t mean you have to put three things if you don’t have three things you could do for us. If you’re only applying for wrangler, then it’s ok to put just that. Those other spaces are for people who legitimately could work in positions other than their first choice. And it’s possible if we aren’t hiring for your first choice, we might need you for your second.
3) Experience and qualifications for the different positions If you made it past 1 and 2, this is where one of the major final cuts gets made. For good reason. Almost anything can be taught and a willingness to be able to learn is essential in any job, but experience will trump eagerness almost every time. Almost. So let’s talk about the main kinds of job available through the majority of ranches.
A. The first category we’ll mention is our wranglers. Let’s be real. Fudging your horse experience will be of no benefit to anyone. Trust us. It’s easily revealed and dangerous to you, your co-workers and our guests. So wrangler positions are carefully chosen and extensively combed over to find the very best.
B. If you don’t have horse experience, but you love to work with people and want to work in a guest ranch atmosphere, a crew position might be right for you. Here’s where other ranches will probably vary a great deal, but essentially the jobs are similar. Some have an extensive amount of guests and may therefore hire specific individuals for housekeeping or wait staff, kitchen help and laundry.
C. Those with culinary and kitchen experience would find room to express their artistic love of food in our kitchen assisting our chef and helping to prep the delicious meals we serve here at the ranch. Then of course there’s the almost full-time job of keeping our bottomless cookie jar actually bottomless.
D. If you’re handy, it would be handy (see how I did that?) to know what maintenance positions are available. There may or may not be multiple areas of building maintenance, mechanical maintenance or grounds maintenance. It is understood this is an area experience is going to be necessary.
E. Office workers who are the front line of every guest ranch. Office staff make reservations, answer questions, phones and emails and are often people’s first interaction with the whole guest ranch experience. You are who the guests will rely on to know all the answers, so be ready to think on your feet with a desire to serve and always with a smile.
4) Tell Us Why WE Need YOU. Most applications have an area to write additional notes about why you’d be a great candidate to work at their ranch. We know ours does, so please USE that space to sell yourself! If you grew up riding horses and fixing tractors on your uncle’s ranch, but you never worked in an actual paid position doing that, tell us! Write it up once and copy and paste it to multiple ranches if you’re applying to several, but don’t cheat yourself in this area. We want to know why you would be great for us—not why we’d be great for you. A lot of personality comes out in the way people write, so let us “hear” it! Just that taking some time to thoughtfully articulate your desire to add your talents to a ranch’s program is far more impressive than not.
Be prepared to have a lot of fun, but be prepared for all the responsibility that comes with making EVERY week the BEST week of the season. From your first day until your last day, there must be diligence in proudly presenting yourself as the face of Bar Lazy J’s excellent program. Jerry and Cheri are incredible people to work for and will literally treat you like family while you’re here and even well beyond your summer job here when you’ve done your best for them. So if you’re lucky enough to come and work in the mountains—make the most of it by living up to the standard we saw you at. Any job worth doing, is worth doing right.