Acadia’s Seasonal Staff are Mission Critical and Getting Harder to Attract
October 27th, 2023
October 27th, 2023
BY AMANDA POLLOCK
As the sun rises over the Maple Spring Trail in Acadia National Park, trail crew members operate a high-line system to move granite stairs into place. Vegetation biologists work to eradicate glossy buckthorn in Bass Harbor Marsh. And Interpretive park rangers don their flat hats and head off to engage and educate visitors.
Anyone who visits Acadia knows immediately how special it is. But what park visitors may not realize is how many people are at work behind the scenes to manage the park’s stunning landscapes, vistas, and trails. Many of those employees are seasonal, working from May through October when the park is at its busiest, to provide a safe and memorable experience for visitors.
The benefits of working for the National Park Service (NPS) are many, starting with the fact that your office is a national park! Seasonal staff also have a unique opportunity to learn professional skills and gain experience from experts in the field. These skills serve them for the rest of their careers, whether they continue to work for the NPS or explore other opportunities. Many NPS employees attest that they have the best job in the world.
Historically, this has meant that the NPS didn’t need to actively recruit. But this year, a tight labor market combined with Mount Desert Island’s housing crisis, meant we were only able to hire 115 of the 175 seasonal staff needed. We had similar hiring challenges last season.
Several other factors affect Acadia’s ability to recruit: government salaries have not kept up with inflation and the federal hiring process can be long and arduous.
By the time you read this, several of Acadia’s seasonal job announcements will have opened and closed. Those resumes will undergo an initial review at the regional or national level, before being forwarded to the hiring managers at Acadia. In fact, the park likely won’t get those resumes until early 2024. While we cannot control these factors, there are steps we can take to be more successful in recruiting and hiring seasonal positions.
Working in partnership with Friends of Acadia, Acadia National Park has initiated a multi-faceted plan to advertise job opportunities at the park and give people the tools to submit a successful application.
The federal hiring process is unique, something many aspiring park rangers don’t realize.
For example, the federal resume is formatted very differently than a traditional resume. There is no preferred length, but the resume should capture, in detail, any experience that makes you qualified for the job. The federal resume for entry-level seasonal positions may be as long as five to seven pages.
To make the federal hiring process more understandable, Acadia is hosting several Federal Resume Workshops both in person and online, in partnership with Mount Desert Island Adult Education and Ellsworth Adult and Community Education. To learn more, visit go.nps.gov/AcadiaJobs.
There is great diversity in the types of career opportunities with the NPS, and every seasonal position has varying education and experience requirements. Targeting our communications and outreach to specific audiences that fit those requirements is a key factor to recruiting success.
For example, some difficult-to-fill positions require an EMT license. Thus, we plan to reach out to EMT license programs to make them aware of the career opportunities available in Acadia.
Youth volunteers in the park, including participants in the Wabanaki Youth and Science Corps (WaYS) and the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps (AYCC), have had experiences that piqued their interest in working for the NPS. By facilitating these experiences, we are also helping curate the next generation of park staff.
Although the range and types of positions at Acadia are diverse, one quality ties NPS staff together: our passion. We want to find people who are excited about the NPS’s mission and the role they could play in fulfilling it.
Recruiting seasonal staff in the current environment is a challenge, and Acadia is fortunate to have such a supportive group of partners, like Friends of Acadia, who are willing to help think strategically about seasonal staff recruitment.
This next year, Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia will be partnering to explore new and innovative ways to attract the best and brightest seasonal staff the NPS could ask for.
Check out current job opportunities at go.nps.gov/AcadiaJobs and share job postings with those you think might be a good fit—or apply yourself! Refer anyone interested to our Federal Resume Workshops, so they’ll be best prepared to apply. Check our websites – nps.gov/acadia and friendsofacadia.org – and social media pages for more information on the 2024 recruitment campaign.
Amanda Pollock is the Public Affairs Officer at Acadia National Park.