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Better to be irritating than forgotten?

You wrote a letter asking about getting a job. Should you now follow it up with a phone call?

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How do you get a job in sound engineering? The answer is usually, "With difficulty!".

Jobs in sound engineering are rarely advertised. As a studio manager, why should you bother advertising when all the potential recruits you could possibly need are beating a path to your door?

The best way to get into sound engineering or music recording is to know someone who is already in the business. If you are related, so much the better. The word for this is 'nepotism'. It's normally considered a bad thing, but if you know someone who is already in there, exploit the opportunity for all it is worth.

There is another advantage to nepotism though - for the employer. No-one in their right mind would recommend a relative or friend for a job unless they were absolutely sure they could do the job properly. So the employer gets a great employee, and the would be nepotee (had to make up a word there) has to be sure to be damned good to get that recommendation.

So what if you don't know someone who is already in the industry?

You write letters. Lots of them. You write to every potential employer you can find. Find them on the Internet, in directories, on credits in CDs, film credits, theater programs, wherever you can.

Write a letter putting yourself forward either as a potential employee (probably at trainee level) or that you are interested in working in the industry and would like to visit and take a look round. Or both, if you can do it without making the letter too long.

It's up to you what you say. There is no form of words that will get you the job just like that. The advantage of asking for a visit is that you are more likely to get it. Then you can start to develop a relationship that might lead to more visits, to casual work then to employment, particularly in live sound.

But the next question is what do you do after the letter?

You could just wait. Or you could make a follow-up telephone call.

The thing about calling is that many studio managers find it irritating. I know that I do. I receive stacks of demo CDs for my music library, 99% of which are totally unsuitable. Do I want a follow-up call? No way - I don't have time for it.

But if you don't make that call, you might miss the chance that the studio manager is teetering on the brink of offering you an interview, and might just decide not to. The call might make all the difference.

For the sake of the sound engineering industry I should advise you not to call. But for the sake of your employment prospects and future career, you need to ask yourself the question whether it is better to be irritating or forgotten!

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By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006
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