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October 15, 2019

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A look inside CityCenter’s application mill

CityCenter job fair

Steve Marcus

Bernard Ibarra, left, executive chef of the Aria resort in CityCenter, interviews chef John Tormey during a food and beverage job fair at the CityCenter Career Center on Thursday. Tormey had just been laid off this morning from his job at The Terrace, a wedding and events business in Henderson, he said.

CityCenter job fair

Steve Baker, center, inquires about cook positions during a food and beverage job fair at the CityCenter Career Center on Thursday. Nicole Huerta, right, applied for a cocktail position. When completed, the MGM Mirage project is expected to employ 12,000 people. Launch slideshow »

In a sense, CityCenter is a series of giant math problems. Here’s one: how do you divide 12,000 by 145,000? A calculator won’t help, because that’s 12,000 jobs and 145,000 people applying for them.

The answer is the CityCenter’s career center on Industrial Road, built into an aircraft-hangar-style warehouse that used to house nightclubs and, once, a country line dancing bar. Now it does a daytime business, with discreetly dressed security guards opening the doors for each and every job seeker.

The 29,000-square-foot building is filled with cubicles creating a pattern as complex as the inside of an anthill. There’s a model of CityCenter under glass, and wall-mounted flat screens quiz applicants on trivia questions about the megaresort, such as how many tons of steel it will be built with (52,000) and how much fiber optic cable it will be wired with (enough to circle the Earth’s equator 4.1 times). Banners hang from the ceiling, telling applicants to “Be yourself in the City,” “Find spirits in the City” and to “Be amazing in the City.” Everything is painted with that is-it-blue-or-is-it-purple color that winds up on the better class of Bentleys.

The building is a sieve for job applicants, explains Michael Peltyn, CityCenter’s vice president of human resources. The first sieve that the raw pool of applicants (145,000 and growing) pass through is the electronic application, which asks yes/no and numerical questions like, “How many years’ experience do you have as a chef in a high volume restaurant?”

Meet the computers’ standards and you’re off to the second sieve, the human from human resources. This person will talk to you for 15 minutes or so about what job might be the best fit for you, and while you talk, the interviewer is judging you on how you talk and present yourself. Currently, human resources is interviewing about 500 people every day.

If you’ve made it past human resources, you get an interview with someone in the department you’re applying for. So far, 42,000 to 43,000 people have been through departmental interviews.

Make it past the second interview, and there’s a drug test. Even the lab is on site at the career center.

Sometime in September, CityCenter will start making job offers. If you’re among the lucky 12,000, you can pick up your uniform at the building just across the parking lot from the career center.

(Although not everyone who applies for CityCenter and is offered a job will end up at CityCenter. Many — Peltyn hopes most — of the CityCenter jobs will go to people already working for MGM Mirage resorts. Those transfers will open up jobs at, say, the Mirage or the Bellagio, jobs that CityCenter applicants will help fill.)

Consider all of this from the perspective of a single job applicant, John Tormey. He’s a chef.

He filled out an electronic application in January, back when they first became available. Shortly after that, he came in and did an interview with human resources. Then on Wednesday night, he heard from a buddy that CityCenter was holding a job fair for food and beverage workers on Thursday. He said he would be there; he just had to figure out how he would get out of work early.

As it turns out, when he went in to work in the morning, he was laid off.

“So, that worked out well,” Tormey deadpans.

He came into the career center, talked to a woman at the front desk, and she looked him up in the computer system. Soon, he had a departmental interview with the Bernard Ibarra, who will be the executive chef of the Aria resort.

Tormey was still wearing his chef’s jacket.

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