Dude Ranch Hiring Practices
When applying for work at a dude ranch, impressing certain things upon your future employer will definitely give you a head start. Make sure that you know the exact dates of their season(s), and if possible, draw attention to your desire to stay the entire time. No one wants to go through the hiring process only to repeat it two months later, so your professed ability to stick it out will make you stick out as well. Also emphasize your positive attitude and willingness to work hard. While it sounds cheesy, these qualities rank number one on almost every ranch's employment list. In your dude or guest ranch application and interview, focus on previous experiences where you've risen to new challenges, embraced opportunities, and demonstrated your grit.
Customer service experience also ranks highly, as does your demeanor and tone. Dude ranches want fun, mature people who make guests happy and co-workers proud. Keep it casual but professional, and smile, even if it's only in your voice.
Most seasonal ranch jobs require little or no experience beyond that glowing attitude. Dude ranches can be great places to start a career in hospitality, as you're likely to get experience in front and back of house and can avoid that nasty "experienced waitstaff only" sign. Housekeeping, maintenance and receptionist positions offer the same chance for learning new skills without necessarily having a relevant background.
Even better, many ranches are happy to train new staff into more specialized roles for future seasons, such as wrangling. A dishwashing city slicker one summer may return as a true ranch hand the next, which certainly helps explain the high employee return rates!
Of course, some jobs do require previous training. Most ranches pride themselves on good food, so generally look for well-qualified chefs to lead the kitchen team. Office manager and accountant roles also necessitate a solid background, so if your cubicle is feeling a bit small, maybe it's time to head for the mountains. Restaurant manager positions present the chance for a hospitality veteran to gain leadership experience, and specialized roles on larger ranches may be perfect for those with backgrounds in massage therapy, sports instruction, or child development. More than anyone, however, wranglers need a well-stocked resume. Most ranches expect a long and varied history with horses, superb riding skills, teaching experience, and the ability to maintain and manage tack, the barn and the arena.
Beyond work experience, dude ranches require staff to be over 18 years old. They almost always ask for a current driver's license, passport and social security number, or the appropriate documentation for non- US citizens. Foreign applicants also need an extremely strong grasp of English. Increasingly, ranches are placing priority on applicants with CPR and First Aid certifications, and those with pools or swimming holes may look for staff with lifeguarding qualifications.