This time of the year, camp directors are swamped with staff interviews. With the downturn in the economy, there are more people than there are jobs. In my nearly 20 years running summer programs, I have never had this many staff clamoring for work. We always get 2-3 times as many applications as jobs. Not everyone is qualified. This year the qualification levels are much higher and people are more desperate. This has not only resulted in an unprecedented number of highly qualified applicants, but a significant number of phone calls and emails about positions to my cell phone and inbox. In year’s past I was able to manage the noise, reply in a timely manner, and get summer camp staff job applicants an answer on their status. Applicants had multiple options for jobs so they never called my cell phone and they rarely emailed to follow-up. With enrollment rising slower than expected and applicants with fewer options, my inbox box bubbles over and my cell phone rings. I even had a high school student call my cell at 10:15pm on a Friday night inquiring about her application! Of course I was still working at that time but that is besides the point. Had someone not pointed it out to me, I honestly wouldn’t have thought twice about a call so late. Camp Directors know no bed time in May and June.
A few weeks ago I realized I was over matched for the influx of input and noise the applicant pool was bringing this year. Rather than feel guilty that I was unable to keep up, I listened to the words of a wise friend who said, “The person doing the hiring is the one everyone has to wait on. Don’t feel bad for making them wait, it is just the way it goes.”
Ariel Hyatt of CyberPR, one of my favorite people in the world, has a great video series for musicians: Sound Advice TV – New Media Tips for Musicians. In my spare time I work with a band called megaphone helping with technology solutions and social media. Ariel Hyatt is my hero when it comes to helping musicians, authors, and content creators exposure on the interwebs.
This video from her show reminded me about the number of emails and calls I get. Like the music publicist who received so many packages, I am over run with applications and staff. While I don’t move their application into different piles each time they call or email (as mentioned in the video), I do take note of who is trying to stay on my radar. I don’t always get to call or write them back. Nagging and arrogant emails get the person moved off the hire list, polite and persistent check-in emails keep their name in my head. The lucky ones hit me at a time when I can respond and even at a time when I have an opening.
Staff: take a lesson from the music industry – persistence is polite if done well and appropriately. Not at 10:00 pm on a Friday night or with an unsigned email or text message. When you don’t follow-up at all, I may forget about you. Follow-up but don’t be offended if you don’t get a reply.