We’re not so different, you and I
When I’m searching for employment, I feel so disconnected with the employers I’m sending applications to. It seems like they’re on top of the Empire State Building, while I’m down on the street, banging on the door and screaming, “Hello?”
But I know that’s not how it really is. Employers are people, just like I am. I try to put myself in their shoes: to comprehend their emotions and concerns, but how? I’ve never managed a company or had to hire people for a full-time job.
The closest experiences I’ve had to hiring people are recruiting actors and filmmakers for the projects I’ve directed. In both scenarios, you need somebody to do a job, you send out a listing, you interview candidates, you assess their skills and personalities — and ultimately, you either hire them or reject them.
Of course, there are differences. The companies I’m applying to want a full-time, salaried employee, while my positions are on a per-project basis and don’t always pay. But for both situations:
1) Experience is crucial. As a recent graduate, I’ve often felt frustrated that I’ve been passed over for jobs just because I lack experience. But as a director, I also know that you want the best: you want people who can not only do the tasks they’re assigned but do them extraordinarily well.
Having said that, though, I would much rather have somebody on my cast or crew who has some experience and a pleasant personality than somebody who’s an expert but a total nightmare to work with. So as important as experience is, personality is a huge factor that employers shouldn’t overlook.
2) Referrals make a difference. When get responses to my posts on Craigslist or other filmmaking and acting boards, I don’t know these people: I don’t know their intentions, their personalities, or whether they’re capable of doing what they say they can do.
It’s always more comforting when somebody’s referred to you. If a friend, relative or acquaintance vouches for a candidate, that will make you more confident that the candidate is reliable and trustworthy — and consequently, will make you more eager to hire them.
But I’ve had people referred to me who turned out to be horrible. And I’ve had people I found through Craigslist who worked out terrifically. So choosing people based on referrals, while certainly a sensible way to go, is never a guarantee that they’ll work out.
You don’t have the time to really get to know people before you hire them. Instead, you have to make judgments based on first impressions, prior achievements, and whatever insights about their personalities that others can tell you.
There’s always fear, and there’s always risk — but when it comes to hiring, all you can do is make smart, reasoned decisions and hope for the best.