Finding DJ Employees – Where Not To

March 26, 2008 by Mike Walter

I’ve spent the past few weeks highlighting some careers that I think are good to recruit from. I’ve enumerated the benefits of looking at waiters, bartenders and teachers just to name a few.Here’s one though that I avoid at all costs: Civil Servants.

Specifically firemen, policemen and anyone in the military.

At first blush this might seem odd. In fact I know personally some very successful DJs who are Civil Servants, most notably Paul Beardmore who is not only a prominent name in our industry but who has been a heroic firefighters for years (and was one of the first on the scene at the Pentagon that fateful morning of September 11th)

So let me explain why I feel these are not good careers to recruit from.

Civil Servants do not have much flexibility in their schedules. They can often be forced to work odd hours or to stay late and do overtime. After all, emergencies happen whenever and wherever, and a firefighter, police officer or EMT has a priority that is far more important than the wedding or Sweet 16 you’ve got them booked on. So before you put yourself in the situation where you have to make a last minute re-assignment, my suggestion is: don’t do it.

In fact before I hire anyone, we have the discussion of schedule and how important it is that they not become unavailable at the last second. If they have a day job that could possibly force them to work weekends, and that could happen without notice, then they’ve got two strikes against them. Don’t get me wrong, I respect that someone’s day job will take priority over their weekend job. I just have to ensure that the chance of a conflict is rare.

It’s similar with someone who is active in the military. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that military people have NO SAY over their schedules. They can get “shipped out” whenever and they have no control over that fact. Even the National Guard, which for years people assumed just meant you could serve a couple of weekends in and not have to worry about, has been called up to full-active duty in the last few years. So again, I look at someone with a military commitment as off limits for me and my staff. In good conscience, I can’t book someone 6-18 months in advance (which is when most of our weddings are booking) when I know deep down that there is a good chance they may not be here.

Having to re-assign events from one entertainer to another, especially at the last minute, is one of the surefire ways to undermine your reputation in your area. Word will spread quickly not just among clients but among professionals as well. One banquet manager may tell three others. The photographer who was shooting the wedding that you had to flip may tell his photographer friends about it. We all know, bad news travels faster than good. And it often gets twisted and turned in the retelling. So my advice to any Multi-Op owner is to make every effort to have the minimum number of reassignments possible. It’s impossible to eliminate them totally . . . DJs get sick or hurt . . .wives give birth on Saturday afternoons . . . stuff happens. Which is why we all need to do our best to cut down the other situations that may cause reassignments. And hiring someone who’s fulltime job has an unpredictable schedule is one of the ways we put ourselves in precarious situations. So when it comes to Civil Servants, as much I respect their commitment to society, I error on the side of caution when it comes to recruiting.

Till next week.

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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Mike Walter Mike Walter (19 Posts)

Mike Walter is the proud owner of Elite Entertainment, a Multi-Op DJ Company in New Jersey that has been selected by The Knot, Wedding Wire and Modern Bride as a top Entertainment company in the country. What Mike is most proud of is that his own company exemplifies the message he has been preaching to the DJ Industry for years: There IS a way to combine Quality and Quantity. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and he spreads his message by speaking at DJ Expos and writing for many DJ publications.


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