"Why is Nobody Replying to my Great Job Posting?"

By Stan Kazymerchyk

This article stems from many letters and calls of concern I have received recently from Golf Supes and Owners. These are reflective of unfilled management jobs open in BC golf course management, especially outside Vancouver.

From the past month alone…

"Looks like the Golf Industry is getting tougher and tougher to find qualified people.  Just to keep you updated- we have had zero response to our job posting. Copper Point had the same result 2 months ago. Even hearing that Asst Supt positions are getting hard to fill. Wondering what your thoughts are on the mindset of Turf Students these days. Are they all employed already, don’t want to move, not enough $ or ??? Be interested to hear your comments"

"We are still looking for a greenskeeper/super. We have very little response to our advertising ads and would appreciate if you would bring it to light with your graduate or current students again."

"I offered to fly one applicant in for an interview, but he declined."

"Still have not had any interest from your students or recent grads for our 2nd Assistant position. This is a great starting management job for an up and coming turf student.  Why are they not even applying?"

"I have had only one feeler from your students and grads on my job offer! An Intern job with all the training they will need to run their own show. Not the highest wage, but local and a great way to move up quick. What's going on?"

Here are some other observations from other BC Turf managers on the situation:

"Some students are sponsored by their clubs, so they choose to stay loyal. Others appear to simply not want to leave home"

"In 6-10 years we may see the "Death of the Superintendents Profession", except for perhaps only the wealthiest courses, due to the lack of educated turfies to move into these roles"

"Salary should not be the only determining factor in choosing a job. I hope students consider the significant difference in cost of living between Greater Vancouver and the hinterland."

"Golf courses can't compete with money offered by Parks, so clubs need to simply pay more"

"I think kids these days are simply reluctant to move and want to stay at home and save money. Or they want to remain at their local clubs during school."

I speak often with my students and grads about their careers and why they were not applying to these opportunities, but needed confirmation. So I sent this request out to KPU Turf students and recent grads:

I have had many letters of concern lately similar to one attached from Mike Baden, Supe at Wildstsone in Cranbrook. I would like to respond to Mike with real data, so asking you to take a minute to reply back today with your answer to a simple question:
"Assume that you are into a golf job, now possess the qualifications to be successful at job like the Wildstone job attached, that it would be more $$$ than you make now and that it would be a definite 'step up' in your career path. What is your reason(s) for not even applying for a job like this?"

Here is a summary of their responses:

"If I was qualified for this job, my reason for not going would probably be that I loved where I was working and I really liked the people I was working with."

"The big issues for me are money, job security, benefits, training and quality of life. I have to think long term and how my goals in life align with my career path. Family and friends are another motivating factor. How will moving 12 hours away from my father affect his well-being and the time we have left together? I think positions like Wildstone are great opportunities for the right person. The problem is their location and the amount of competitive jobs in the market. With few turf graduates every year and multiple postings, demand for quality managers is high."

"I am in a fairly new relationship and my girlfriend would be unable to move to the Kootenays at this point in time. In addition, the health of a close family member is a factor, in addition to aging parents who I will be unable to see with any degree of frequency like I do now."

"I really wanted to try for these jobs, but with my student debt, cannot turn down the money offered by the Parks job I am taking this summer."

"I would apply and be willing to move if I were ready and looking for a position as a Second Assistant, but I personally feel I am a minority when it comes to this willingness to move and seek opportunities among people my age… Money is always a factor, but in this scenario I believe its distance away from a major metropolitan area that may be restricting applicants."

"The main problem is people not feeling comfortable changing jobs due to the unknown. Not knowing if you will like the staff, operations and management all come into play. Another reason can be that the individual wants to work at a municipality in parks or they have a job that they really enjoy the staff they work with and the operation of that particular work place."

"An issue for me is how seasonal so many of these opportunities are. I've never been on EI, always had a second Job to get me through the winter. After completing the diploma I'd love to find work that can support me year round."

"One of the issues for me is that employment isn't offered year round and the fact that in this day and age many couples are both working and would need to find suitable jobs in the same place. This is an issue for me as my fiance's job depends on the large companies in Vancouver."

"I am quite comfortable living at home and happy working at my local course. Many old-timers above me will be retiring soon, making my rise easy."

"Taking a leap such as going from the lower mainland to a place as remote as the Kooteneys is scary. The chore and stress of finding a permanent residence in the area,the required money to pick my entire life up here and move is just far to much for me to think this a viable opportunity. For me to leave a place that gives me health dental and RRSP at a time of financial chaos, for a realm of uncertainty seems crazy to me.  Without some form of insurance be it staff housing and a wage that eclipses my own I couldn't take that chance."

"Reasons for me would be the location and term. At the moment I wouldn't want to relocate to out of Vancouver on a temporary basis. If it was a year round position I would be much more interested."

"I started going to KPU with the goal to be a super but that has changed over the last year with lots of life changes and goal changes. People my age have to take jobs that will leave them with enough money to pay rent, school, food and gas price. Either courses have to charge more money or find a new revenue to be able to pay their staff more or to find ways intrigue new people into this industry."

In summary, these turf student/recent grad responses point out a variety of key obstacles to educated Turfie movement, clearly not just one reason:

-Apprehension about the unknown
-Comfort and security
-Family and partners
-Leaving city life
-Seasonal work

Golf Course Management went through many years of applicant over-supply, where management openings saw dozens of qualified candidates. Over time, some frustrated Turfies have left the industry due to slow advancement (less supply), while an older generation has been retiring with increasing pace (more demand). The lucrative pay allure of municipal Sportsfield jobs have pulled some away from golf, while KPU is only graduating 5-10 Turf Management grads a year (both less supply). Overall, there now appears to be a smaller supply of educated turfies who are less willing to step into more golf management roles available. This is a great time to be moving up in the turf industry but a challenging time to recruit educated managers.

Hopefully this article will inform recruiters about understanding applicant needs and stimulate new ways to attract quality staff. Turf students and recent grads now may take a different reflection to their career plan. This situation should encourage new entries to our industry in a world where a diploma or degree in most disciplines does not guarantee a good job. I hope this especially stimulates discussion among the turf industry. Be happy to hear your comments about all this.

Stan Kazymerchyk
KPU Turf Management Instructor