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Mix Live Blog: Help Wanted…But Not Found

Even after a year of post-pandemic touring, finding experienced pros is still a challenge.

I recently had the need to hire a sub on my crew when my regular suspects were unavailable for a few upcoming shows. Having exhausted word-of-mouth (and word-of-text) possibilities, I resorted to the unthinkable: I ran a “help wanted” ad.

I knew full well that placing such an ad in, say, the New York Times, would be a futile effort, so I opted for running it on a website that’s become a popular resource for folks working in the touring community. In the ad, I stated the dates we were looking to cover, the skill set required, and the need for the candidate to be in the NYC area, where we are based.

The responses were fairly depressing. Almost all of them completely ignored the part about “must be NYC-based”—though, in truth, if we had found a good candidate in another city, we probably would have taken a chance on them. Some of the respondents fessed up about not having all of the requirements, a characteristic that I respect far more than someone trying to lay a pile of baloney on me. According to their resumes, one or two were grossly overqualified, which to me is a red flag… “with that kind of experience, why is this person not booked on a major tour?”

Of the 13 responses, only one was worth investigating, and after vetting the references, it turned out that our only hope wouldn’t be available for these dates due to the fact that travel to a prior commitment would overlap.

Mix Live Blog: My New Favorite Venue

What sticks in my mind, unfortunately, is one response that was local, the respondent emailing: “I’ve worked with a lot of big name acts, your is no unfamiliar territory to me. I’m serious as an A1, A2, LD, and PM, with my resume attached feel free to take a gander”(sic). So, I did.

What this person thought was a resume wasn’t worthy of a cartoon drawing on a paper dinner napkin. The document posing as a resume was vague, listing artists (some national) but not describing any of the work experience. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe no one ever showed him how to properly write a resume. I responded, asking for some details regarding work experience, and for three references. Radio silence. I can’t say that I was surprised.

What did surprise me was the dearth of viable responses. I figured I’d get at least two or three that would be worth investigating. Maybe it’s because it was only a few shows and most of the qualified techs have already booked out for the summer. Maybe it’s due to the fact that we were looking for someone to work on Memorial Day Weekend. Or maybe it’s post-Covid hangover, with people still not in a mindset of returning to work—though I don’t really buy into that concept applying to our industry.

One thing remains sure: If you have skills, there’s work available in the entertainment industry.