Sixty-four employees hired and 3,936 positions left to be filled.

Las Vegas Corp. staffed its first positions Wednesday at the $1.6 billion Palazzo, bringing 64 front desk personnel into the company’s fold. With more than 55,000 applicants to choose from, Sands officials are confident the 3,068-room Strip hotel-casino will be fully staffed by its planned Dec. 20 soft opening.

The company celebrated the initial hiring with a sparkling apple cider toast.

In June, Las Vegas Sands opened an off-site employment center, allowing job applicants to set a time convenient for their interviews. Human resources executives had hoped for about 50,000 applications for 420 job classifications. But the response has been better than expected.

“By the time we’re done, I think we’ll have about 65,000 to 70,000 applications,” said Dan Nogal, director of compensation for the Palazzo and its sister resort, The Venetian.

Because the properties are connected, they will share many noncustomer service and back-of-the-house support workers. In addition, employment executives expect about 1,100 Venetian workers will switch to the Palazzo. Those switch-created vacancies will be filled during the hiring effort.

“We did a separate process for the Venetian people and they were allowed to bid on the jobs before they were opened to the outside,” said Michael Gentry, vice president of human resources for the two resorts.

He said roughly 85 percent of the job applications were from Southern Nevada residents, including workers from Strip resorts. Displaced employees from the recently closed Stardust and New Frontier properties have also applied for jobs.

The Palazzo is expected to open in stages starting Dec. 20. The gaming area, hotel and restaurants will come on line first. The Shoppes at Palazzo, the property’s 450,000-square-foot retail space that is anchored by Barneys New York, will open in January. The Palazzo theater, which will feature the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” is expected to open in the spring.

“I expect we’ll have 99 percent of the work force on board by December,” Gentry said.

With several new resorts under construction, such as Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Mirage CityCenter and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon, Las Vegas Sands is first to the line to fill an influx of new jobs. One Wall Street investment firm estimates the building boom will create more than 113,000 positions by 2012.

Gentry said Las Vegas Sands had a goal of 13 applicants per position. Some job classifications have come in short. The company is still looking to fill jobs in the engineering department, security, housekeeping, finance and employee relations.

“It’s a tough market because of our philosophy,” Gentry said. “We’ve set our standards high. We have enough applicants fore every position, but we just don’t want to fill one for one. Our timing is perfect because we’re the first out of the chute ahead of the competition.”

Neither Gentry nor Nogal were surprised that security officer positions have been tough to fill. Trained and certified security officers have been in demand since security concerns heightened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Gentry said.

“That’s probably the No. 1 applicant base we’re looking to fill,” Nogal said. “There’s a large competition for security folks.”


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