While the Australian Open may already seem like a monstrous event featuring hundreds of players and their entourages, there are literally thousands more people working behind the scenes to deliver what many of those players describe as their favourite Grand Slam tournament.
Australian Open staff bring a high level of training, passion and commitment to their roles, which sees the tournament consistently voted among the players as the best Grand Slam in terms of organisation, hospitality, service and facilities. Providing the players with the best possible experience helps them relax and have fun, and focus on producing the extraordinary level of tennis that the Australian Open is famous for.
There is a vast array of employment opportunities and areas at the Australian Open in which you can find your niche and help contribute to what makes it such a great event, while developing some fantastic experience at one of the world’s biggest sporting events along the way.
Alisa McAlpine, a recruitment business partner in Tennis Australia’s human resources department, says that Australian Open employees can use their role as a springboard to further employment opportunities .
“For example, a lot of our AO website editorial and photo assistant volunteers who work in the Digital team are university students, and it’s a great opportunity for them to get something on their CVs and gain some practical experience in an industry (media) where it’s really hard to get work experience,” she explains.
“We also get quite a lot of people contacting us for their performance evaluations (from previous tournaments) because they might be going for jobs at Wimbledon or the Olympics or other events, and it’s definitely helped them to get those jobs.”
What work can you do?
There are more than 30 different areas in which you can work at the tournament, with each requiring different skills sets and staff numbers.
There are roles involving direct interaction with players, such as change room and gym attendants, courtesy car drivers, hair and beauty staff, and accommodation, child care, player medical and concierge services, while other work features coverage and presentation of the event, with on-court jobs available like ball kids, officials, statisticians and behind-the-scenes roles including the work of the digital (AO website production), media workroom and broadcast teams.
Also available are customer service opportunities in the AO Membership, corporate & VIP hospitality, Lacoste retail staff and information services teams, and highly functional roles in accreditation, event operations and tournament control.
With so many avenues available, Tennis Australia’s human resource staff are inundated with expressions of interest and applications from those keen to be involved. At the 2012 tournament, Tennis Australia employed almost 1,700 staff, up 100 roles on the previous year.
Mirroring that growth has been an increase in the retention rate of staff from one tournament to the next. Each year since 2009, the retention rate has grown steadily to the point that in 2012, 71 per cent of the staff who worked at the Australian Open had also worked the year before.
McAlpine believes a large number of staff return to their roles each year because the event offers employment in a fun atmosphere.
“It’s a great thing for people to say they’ve worked behind the scenes and see how it all operates. It’s not just a normal nine-to-five job, it’s a bit different, so I think people just keep coming back, also for the friendships they make as well,” she says.
The wheels are in motion for recruiting staff for Australian Open 2013. Existing employees have been sent “expressions of interest” emails, which they must fill out if they wish to return next year. Once it has been established who will be coming back, applications will then be thrown open for the month of June to new applicants who want to become part of the action.
First-time applicants should not be discouraged by the tournament’s high staff retention rate. McAlpine says that even if the 71 per cent retention rate is maintained, that still leaves 400 roles that need to be filled for the 2013 tournament.
“We hire staff for wait lists as well so we don’t have to start the recruitment process again … therefore if anyone withdraws we go straight to that wait list (to fill the roles),” she explains.
“The people who were on a wait list for 2012 still need to reapply in June (for AO2013), but it’s more than likely that we’d use most of the people on the wait lists anyway.”
Tennis Australia’s human resources team expects to receive more than 2,000 new applications for next year’s event. The competitive recruitment process means that you need to put your best foot forward when applying for a position at Australian Open 2013. McAlpine says that because applicants will be judged on paper first – and will be among a huge volume of other applications – the best way to stand out from the crowd is through a well-prepared CV.
“It’s not like you’re going for a permanent position but I think you need to take it seriously,” she says.
“For younger people, such as those still at school who obviously aren’t going to have a big CV, they can provide a Word document outlining any leadership roles or achievements.
“When it gets to the assessment centre stage (of recruitment), we want people to come and be themselves, be passionate about tennis, and have a good work ethic but want to have fun as well.”