This has been THE question in the industry for as long as I can remember. From my first thought of wanting to be a part of it all, it’s been instilled in my brain that my resume doesn’t matter. But is that actually true?
So look, I have to source a lot of crew people across multiple different gigs. I go through a lot of resumes, talk to a lot of references, and spend a ton of time trying to find the right fit. Finding good people is easy. Finding the right person is not.
To truly understand it, we need to break this up into different categories.
- Does your resume in fact matter?
- How do we apply for gigs?
- How do we follow up properly?
Let’s go through the process of what I’m looking for when I’m hiring people. Just to be clear… this is NOT an invitation for you to hit me about getting gigs. Backstage Culture is not the place for that.
So… does it matter, or not?
I’m only speaking on behalf of myself here, but when I’m looking for a new crew member, I’m honestly not reading through a bunch of resumes. The volume is way too high…
But, that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. There’s a huge difference between, “if your resume matters” and “if you have the relative work experience that I’m looking for”. Let’s talk about the difference between the two.
When looking for crew, I find resumes to be a little too formal. It’s like wearing a suit to an interview. It’s sending a message louder than the actual content. Trust me, I love a good suit. But, the point is that I don’t wanna be razzle-dazzled. Just like I’m gonna give to you in this article, I want cold hard facts and I want them as clean and clear as possible. Sometimes the best candidate barely knows how to use a computer. I’m not gonna let that stand in the way.
All I need to know about an applicant are these key points:
- Are you technically qualified for this particular position?
- Do you have the desired level of experience? (This doesn’t mean that I’m gonna go with the most qualified for the gig. They might be out of budget, or might not be the right fit.)
- Can you listen?
- Are you lying?… Cuz I’ll find out.
- Do you actually want the position?
- Do you have credible references?
Whether it’s in resume form or in an email, you need to be able to get your point across quickly and efficiently to relay the points above.
Let’s talk about actually applying for the gigs.
How do we apply for gigs?
Pay attention to the posting
If you’re gonna apply for a job, you HAVE to pay attention. If I put in the posting that I’m looking for someone with “strong attention to detail” then you need to follow the exact steps that I outline on how to apply.
Here’s an example of some of the details I used for a job posting on Bobnet when I was previously looking for a stage manager.
Looking for someone that possesses these skills:
- Strong attention to detail.
- Able to call the show (Cue lights, video, show starts etc. Lots of moving parts)
- Experience stage-managing either with bands, comedy or broadway is ideal.
- Make-it-work attitude.
- Able to be assertive without rude.
- Valid Passport and Clean record.
- This is a NO DRAMA camp.
- We need people that are going to be professionals. Crew cannot be a liability.
If interested please email “Email here” with the info below.
Please send in the bulk of the email. No attachments necessary.
- 3-5 resume gigs that relate to this position.
- 100 words or less about yourself.
- Home Airport
- Expected salary in USD.
- 2x references with their titles.
Look… I’m not a stickler, and I’m not gonna turn my nose up at a potentially great candidate, but you know how many motherfuckers emailed me an attachment of their resume and said “Resume attached, Let me know” I LITERALLY TOLD YOU TO PUT IT IN THE BULK OF THE EMAIL. I ASKED FOR SOME BASIC INFORMATION. WHY THE FUCK WOULD I HIRE SOMEONE THAT CAN’T FOLLOW SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS?
If you don’t care enough to read the full posting, you’re saying that you don’t care enough about the gig. Come on, guys.
Just as important as following instructions when applying, is delivering your tone and showing personality.
Be confident, not cocky
Be proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished. If you’re under-qualified for a gig, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get it. Like I said above, not every role requires the most technically qualified or experienced person. If someone is looking to hire crew members for the long haul, the ability to hang out is gonna carry some serious weight.
You need to trust your knowledge and experience. If you get to the second phase of the application, you’re gonna need to be able to talk on the phone and communicate your abilities. Do your homework. Look at the posting again and see exactly what they’re looking for, then prepare yourself to answer questions with that mindset.
Again, just show that you give a shit.
That being said, no one likes a know it all. If you’re a cocky asshole already, god knows what you’ll turn into when you start to get comfortable in the gig. Keep that in mind when displaying confidence.
You need to know that you’re not gonna get every gig you apply for. On top of all of the decisions we’ve already spoken about, here are some other reasons why people don’t get gigs:
- You’re from the wrong city. And no, I don’t mean that they don’t like people from your city. Maybe the tour starts with 2 weeks of pre-pro in LA, then back again for 6 days off throughout the tour. Maybe the tour doesn’t want to pay for you to be in a hotel for all of those days.
- You’re not in the correct budget. This goes for both asking for too much or too little. Find out what your value is and what you’re willing to accept and go from there. I don’t want to hear you’re $5k/week, then I tell you I have $2k/week and you say yes right away.
- Your references didn’t check out as planned. Let’s talk about the importance of this in the next section.
Have good references
I do the dirty work, I FIND OUT ABOUT PEOPLE that I’m about to get trapped in the bus with. If you give me a list of 3-5 gigs like the posting above requests, chances are that I know someone who knows you. I’m big into calling off-brand references. People that you didn’t list.
Let me tell you why that’s valuable…
- Your first reference might not be credible to me. If you guys are best friends and they’ll say whatever I wanna hear so that you get the job, that might not be helpful to me. I need some sort of contrast from someone that I know and trust.
- If you’re lying about your work experience, I’ll find out. If you tell me you’re currently doing a gig, then I find out that you’ve only filled in once, that’s not a good look for you. Yes, it happens.
I’m gonna put this tip in here, you should think of your social media as one of your references. If I’m digging up info on you, and come across you posting political hate shit on your Facebook page, I’m gonna take that into heavy consideration.
Anyways… you’ve followed instructions on the posting, talked with whoever is doing the hiring, and then ghost-town. What are you supposed to do?
How do we follow-up properly?
If you haven’t heard back, then 1 of 2 things likely happened. They either can’t figure it out and are still deliberating, or someone else has already been hired.
When searching through applicants, I narrow it down to the top 5-8 by using the criteria above. If you’ve sent the initial application and never heard back, there is no use in following up. And that’s ok, it could be for a number of reasons. Don’t take it personally and move on.
When to follow-up
I suggest you only follow up if you’ve had some sort of contact. I personally don’t like it when people follow up more than once. You’re asking someone to hire you for a gig… To give you money… Show some patience and class.
What to say
Keep it simple. “Hey, just following up here. Have you made a decision on the job posting?” Or if you feel like you are really close, “What can I do to put myself in the top spot for consideration?”
Don’t use an imaginary “other offer” to put pressure on whoever is hiring you. This is a rookie move and everybody sees through it. The response you’re gonna get is “Cool, take whatever work you can confirm”.
If it’s gone, it doesn’t always mean it’s gone. I keep in touch with a lot of great applicants that stand out to me as they might be useful further down the line.
Find out why you didn’t get the gig.
I love this. If people show that they still care, even when they’re told no, that’s a great quality to have. Don’t be annoying about it and say “why not?”. Simply thank them for even considering you and ask what the ideal candidate has that you don’t. More than the fact that it looks great to show that you want to improve, it’s great to prepare yourself when looking for the next position.
Sometimes, the reason you didn’t get the gig, is you, for the many reasons I listed above. Sometimes its something that you can easily improve on and get the gig when the time is right.
If you’ve done all the steps above and still get cold replies from people, keep your chin up. As much as they’re looking for the right fit for their tour, you need to protect your vibe and find the right camp that fits you. There are lots of gigs out there, keep working hard.
See you out there!
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