For several years now the skills have been diminishing in our industry; the good people seem to move their careers upwards or completely get ignored, whereas the bad (or not so good) seem to be raising the bar on the salaries they require. Last week at mediaPro 09 I met an old time pro of the industry who is seemingly struggling in today’s climate. Not that surprising though as thousands out there are in the same boat. But what struck me with this guy was what his hourly rate was. Now I won’t disclose it, but needless to say it was on par with that of outsourcing companies in faraway lands.
Over the weekend I also met with a technical director of a busy London studio – we mused over the problems in the industry of how the applications available today take the need to think away from those that use them. And what’s more the people using them only really know a small proportion of what the application can do. OK, that is also no surprise either when you think that the average user doesn’t really need to know advanced scripting or building macros or even changing the pallet layouts. But we should expect, no demand, that when we employee someone who states on their CV that they use Photoshop, Indesign or Quark that they have at least a basic knowledge of the applications functionality. That is without taking into account the skills of the trade they are in, something else that is hard to measure but something that we should also require them to have.
When we employee someone into our organization, we base their employment on a number of factors. These range from the references they provide, the quantity & quality of their CV content and maybe even an application test, but not on whether the person is able to think for themselves or the knowledge of creative and print related subjects we may require. For the sake of this blog I will call the people that do have the GOOD Knowledge workers. The good are those who have understood that this is the career they have chosen to be in, these are the people who have continued to learn and continued to strive to make a difference, develop the inner self, those who don’t expect to get a leg up by exaggerating their skills, if anything they play their knowledge down as they may feel that it actually looks like they are exaggerating.
Over the years we have seen the BAD (those who actually just want to do the basics to remain employed) elevate themselves to higher levels of income and in some companies we see them get promotions over those who do make a difference. The good take a backseat and bite their collective lips as poor management favours someone who is not a threat to their own position.
Are we able to change this? Sure we are, but it takes time to develop the correct focus for the company and this has to come from the top of the ladder.
Are we able to empower Human Resources with the relevant filters, better pay grading and more industry insight to weed out the good and the bad? If you are a corporate then it is vital that the HR personnel understand the business – and I mean really understand it! I have a member of my family who is in a HR department, and she openly admits that she employs people purely based on their CV as the companies managers can’t be bothered to explain what they are looking for and don’t have the time to attend the interviews personally…. A pretty poor situation for a creative company whose profits and maybe even their survival is based on those key income generators, those guys who must be uber efficient and accurate to maintain their client base.
To summarise the problem; the applications are making it easier for people not to need to think too hard, specific knowledge workers within companies pickup the slack from those people that don’t want to think and people seem to not want to improve their own careers by knowing as much as they can about the tools of the trade yet want to be paid the going rate for people with these tools on their CV. What an awful situation we have got ourselves into.
Author: Gary George
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