Send In The Clones
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
Not long ago, one of my #AVtweeps posted that he was so busy, he needed a clone to get everything done. How often have you or one of your coworkers wished for a clone? Or maybe, “we need to hire someone who can bascially do everything that [___] can do, do you know anyone like that, who can start immediately?”
The problem is that there is no magic recipe for a seasoned audiovisual professional. No matter if you are a technician, an engineer, a consultant, a programmer, marketing, or sales associate, your individual experience is as customized as the audio and video systems you design, sell, install, and/or operate for a living. Don’t get me wrong, we sometimes have similar backgrounds. Many AV people started by playing music in a band, working theater, doing lighting, video, or sound engineering. Others may have grown into AV Land by working with their parents, or pushing the projector cart around at their schools. Some may help with the audio or video at their church or house of worship. Some may come from an information technology background, and have been “forced” into AV support because they were considered “techy” by their peers.
At some point in each of our AV careers, we have been forced to “step up to the plate”. For whatever reason, we were given the opportunity to learn something new, to step outside of our knowledge base, and oftentimes our comfort zone. And then we learned it, we did it, and we moved on. For it is by learning something new that we made ourselves more valuable, kept things interesting, and stayed fresh in this ever-changing industry. Maybe it was the first time you tried AutoCAD, drove a truck, crimped an RJ45 connector, or terminated a big multi-pin audio connector? We have all made mistakes, and we learned valuable lessons from our mistakes. We also learned from the mistakes made by others, as we replaced old AV systems.
Maybe you don’t have field experience, but you have been navigating the sales and marketing channels of the Audiovisual River Basin for the past 10 or 20 years, hooking and reeling in leads, while still making your tee time. You are constantly on the phone, following never-ending email threads, and running into the same colleagues every year at the trade shows. The same people, year after year, right?
Have you ever heard of the theory called the Six degrees of separation, or maybe the Six degrees of Kevin Bacon? Well I think AV Land only has three degrees of separation, if that. AV is traditionally such a niche industry, that it’s not uncommon to go to an AV industry event and run into someone you know. Or if you meet someone, they probably already know of someone you know, or used to work where you used to work. It’s a rather incestuous industry, each of us paving our own paths by learning the skills we needed to know to get by, or to get ahead. It’s no wonder we want clones of ourselves, because we are all full of “tribal knowledge” based on years of experience. But for those that are hiring, the most qualified people are often happy where they are at, or unwilling to relocate without a major pay increase.
My suggestion is instead of looking for a clone, what you really need is someone who is willing to learn new things just like you did. Instead of buying a pre-lit Christmas tree full of ornaments, start with some seedlings. Instead of looking at the qualities you possess, look at the qualities that you are missing. If your staff is inexperienced, send them to training, and give them incentives to get certified. If your staff is having trouble finding new business, maybe you should hire some new blood from outside of the AV industry? Someone who has a different network and a different Rolodex from you. Instead of someone who is experienced like you, consider adding a new perspective, as an added value to your team.
If you are hiring, or looking for a job in the AV industry, the first website I would visit is jobsite.infocomm.org. I have personally found employment here in the past. It’s perfect for people in the AV industry looking to hire people in the AV industry. All of the jobs that are posted are from relevant AV manufacturers, integrators, consultants, and rental houses.
rAVe Publications also has a great AV Jobs page, and Gary Kayye posts a AV job to Twitter daily, here is an example: @ravepubs rAVe Job of the day: Outside Sales Account Manager for Visual Innovations Company in El Paso, TX bit.ly/MirGIE #AVtweeps #AVjobs. You should also follow #AVnews and @ProAVjobs on Twitter.
In addition to your own LinkedIn network, there are great LinkedIn group pages like Women in AV (or #WAVE), “a networking and information sharing group whose goal is to help, learn, and assist all women achieve success and mentor young women in the audiovisual industry.” These industrial professionals are friendly and willing to help you connect with new faces both inside and outside of AV Land.
What about co-ops or internships at local universities? College grads are hurting to find jobs right now, and they are prime candidates for quick learning (and long hours!) And please don’t forget the returning military forces, they make great co-workers.
Please let me know your thoughts and your favorite AV job resources.