Tip for Models on getting hired

February 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Models, 

I've been reading some books lately and I wanted to communicate something that will help you get hired. Besides the information in these books, which I will cite later, I have some experience and preferences which I will hope will make sense by the end of this writing. 

I will assume the reason you are reading this is that: 

You want to get hired.   

Okay fine. So, having been in a position to hire people for various reasons and in various businesses, including the photographer/model relationship I will summarize what I look for (much of which is also looked for by GOOD hiring managers in business). So if you are aiming to go get a job somewhere consider how this can apply. 

First, here is a short list of the WRONG things to do: 

1) Fail to communicate at all. Fail to communicate in a friendly manner, fail to articulate. Fail to answer questions. Being abrupt also sucks. If your responses are one-worded or simply curt then, I usually just stop communicating altogether. It comes across as attitude, whether that was the intention or not. 

2) Inflate your self-worth. Big heads and egos are pretty big turn-offs just about anywhere in the business world. 

3) Shoot from the hip, "How much money, what about pay? When can I get paid? Is it compensated?" While all of these things are important, and I don't expect you to work for free, they shouldn't be your first questions. Hitting your potential employer with all sorts of "me, mine, money, more, me, me, me" stuff means or conveys that you are really just there for money and that this is the most important thing to you. It shouldn't be. Employers want to know what you can do for them and how you will help their business.

As a side note, EVERY single commercial job I've ever done in photography started with "What do you need/want exactly? And how can I help you achieve this?" In other words, what can I do for you, not what can you give me so that I can do something for you. I determine what the customer (which would be the photographer who will hire you in this case) needs and wants and then I negotiate the price based on the hard costs, my creative costs, time, etc. Money is NEVER in the first conversation - in fact when I get emails that start with "what are your rates?" I usually don't respond. Because I already know it's too much for them. They are shopping on price, not quality. There will always be cheaper or free _______ out there. Always.

4) Don't keep your word or your promise. Includes showing up late or not at all. Amateur hour is for someone else and they have openings in Flakeville for that. You will destroy your rep faster than opening a conversation with questions about money.    

So what do hiring managers, photographers, etc look for when they interview people? 

1) Your ability to communicate, friendliness and honesty. 

2) Your excitement or passion for the art, project or industry in general.

3) What YOU can do to make my portfolio (or company) better and/or stronger. In other words, what can you offer me? 

4) Not the most important but, a portfolio. The stronger the better. I don't care who hired you before or where you were published. If you fail in 1-3 just above, then I don't care what your portfolio looks like. There are 7+ billion people and you are replaceable. I've hired and/or shot people I met at grocery stores. I've remodeled houses or worked in commercial remodeling and turned around and shot for the same people. You don't have to be a "model" to get in front of my camera or have awards or be published in Playboy or whatever, you have to have the right attitude. I understand that this point differs in places like high fashion and some commercial work. But let's be real, 9/10ths of all models won't get into high fashion. So don't build your business like you are a high fashion model (if you are). 

Once I've determined that you will assist me, I will be happy to discuss an appropriate pay (or some sort of exchange) for the project or shoot.  

You don't want to waste your time with customers who ask 500 questions. Here is what I do, with tact, to handle those sorts:

1) Qualify them. This is the first thing any salesman does. Find out what they want, and determine whether you can do this. 

"Oh yeah? So you want this, and done like that? Okay, good. I can do that. I know a great location for this and have a team of professionals that can help put this together. I will send you over the contract and estimate based off of what you've told me about your project and what I think it will cost. I think you're going to like my vision for this. I'll send this over now and get back in touch with you tomorrow on it." In a nutshell that's how I handle sales. Price is always negotiable because no job is the same as the last (unless maybe you are shooting headshots, in the same manner, same place, etc).   

2) Watch out for the red flags. Personal comments or personal questions that are inappropriate. Cut the communication and move on. Save time. "I don't think I would be a good fit for that project, thanks for considering me." End of conversation.

So in short, be courteous, answer questions but qualify your potential employer. You want to know ultimately, what they need/want and if you can perform and finally if they can afford you. You have a better chance of getting the money you want if you can convince them that you would be the best choice for their vision, project, job position, etc. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting, money, or fame, or cred, or whatever. But don't promote yourself with this sort of thing, promote yourself as a service that gives 100% and ensures customer satisfaction. The rest will follow if you have any business sense at all. 

Oh yeah, the books I've been reading. Good to Great and The Art of the Start. Good luck. 


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