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Recruiting advice from a photographer
In the June issue of Equipment World we ran an article about what the country’s top fleet managers are doing to recruit and retain mechanics and service technicians. One suggestion that arose in my interviews is that you may just have to work harder at developing your own people – finding young men with a good work ethic and teaching them what they need to know.
Years ago I worked with a professional photographer, Perry Struse, who had this process down to a science. (I know, photography and diesel equipment maintenance are far afield of each other, but hang with me here. The principle is the same.)
Most professional photographers use an assistant who does all the grunt work while the photographer schmoozes the client, chats up the models or tries to figure out if the editor or the art director is calling the shots.
When evaluating prospective employees, look for curiosity and enthusiasm.
When the photographer extends a hand out, open palm, the assistant better put a camera in it and have the lights and tripod and every technical detail perfect and ready to go. If you’ve ever seen a good one in action, you’d be amazed. Hustle doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Perry hired a new assistant every year and required only one qualification:
“If they have a naturally curious mind and they like to burrow into the details of something, I can teach them everything they need to know,” he said. No prior knowledge of photography was necessary.
I also asked Perry how he knew when somebody has the level of curiosity he’s looking for. “Just ask them what they’re interested in and see what they can tell you about it,” he said.
According to Perry it didn’t matter if their passion was comic books, cooking or motorcycles. If they love the subject, relish the details and can communicate that with enthusiasm, he says, they’re going to be successful. If they’re dull people with a dull life, no amount of pay or training, even four years of college, is going to help.
It takes a special kind of mentor to develop this kind of skill. You have to be able to read people, to be a good judge of character and have the patience to teach and to motivate. But if it worked for Perry, it can work for you. Besides, what other choices do you have?