The hiring of technical staff is critical to any operation. A typical broadcast operation relies heavily on computer technology not only for its office functionality, but also for its program production and delivery. This reliance on computer technology has created a newly titled position in the broadcast industry known as a broadcast computer technician. Many companies seek broadcast engineers who have a good balance of knowledge and skills in the area of computer hardware and software as well as video, audio, and transmission. Larger companies have recognized the need for a staff of computer technicians that work in conjunction with the station's broadcast engineering staff. Collectively, those positions are then responsible for the entire technical operation of a broadcast facility. It is important for each employer to determine whether one person with many skills would be best for the position or if hiring two people of multiple yet different and complementary abilities would better suit the need.
Begin your search by defining what you want and need. Create an accurate job description that outlines the responsibilities and qualifications of the position. First create an appropriate job title for the position. Next compose a description of the position that best describes the areas and levels of responsibility and functionality of the job. Within the qualifications section of the job description, list the education and experience requirements for the person that you hope to find. Finally, list the base pay and benefits package available for the position. Paying less for an entry-level person with minimal or no experience may be beneficial to your operating budget up-front; however, in the long run, it may be detrimental if the person lacks the knowledge and experience that is really needed in order to do the job correctly. Offering a handsome and yet affordable salary and benefits package will often attract a better quality candidate. The job description should be well defined and be one that exactly describes the type of person you are looking for as well as what their performance expectations are to be.
Your goal should be to hire the best person for the position and one who will meet your company's needs and objectives. Look for a person who can help your staff solve problems. Strive to hire a person who knows and understands technology, as well as one who has the ability to address your staff's needs in a mode of customer service and satisfaction. Seek out people who understand teamwork, have people skills, are detail oriented, have good problem solving skills, and who appear to have a good work ethic. A strong candidate will have a good balance of technical and business knowledge as well as proper behavior patterns.
Where to look
Locating potential job candidates can be challenging. The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) operates a website (www.sbe.org) where a job opportunity can be posted. A similar service is also available through broadcast.net and its broadcast-résumé list server. Résumés of job seekers are also available for review on these Web pages. Alert the SBE chapter in your area of the job opportunity. Local chapter information is available via the SBE Web page. Networking with various broadcast industry professionals is an excellent way in which to gather the names of potential candidates. Often a call to a larger broadcast equipment distributor will yield the names of persons known to be seeking advancement in employment opportunities. Advertising in trade-specific publications will directly expose your position opening to the industry. Traditional newspaper advertising should not be overlooked, nor should the use of search firms and Internet recruiting.
As an employer, it is often difficult to assess the knowledge and skills of each candidate. There are many certifications available to qualified persons in the broadcast and computer industry. Certifications effectively measure the performance of a person on a defined skill level. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers certifications ranging from Television Operator to Professional Broadcast Engineer (CPBE). The SBE certification as a Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT) is for people who have demonstrated a basic familiarity with networking hardware used in business and audio/video applications in broadcast facilities. Other levels of SBE certifications reflecta person's abilities and knowledge in broadcasting at various levels. In addition, many companies in the computer industry, including Microsoft, IBM, Novell, and Cisco, offer many levels of certification. Check each applicant's résumé for experience in technology as well as industry experience. Look for persons who have experience working with the brands of equipment located in your facility and the types of computer operating platforms in use. Seek individuals who belong to industry-related professional organizations and who actively attend industry trade shows and seminars. A strong candidate will be one who demonstrates a desire to learn and otherwise continuously improve his level of skill and ability.
When conducting interviews, be sure to follow all legal guidelines for interviewing and hiring. Have the candidate meet with multiple people on your staff who may be able to provide a different perspective of the interviewee. Create a list of several questions to ask each candidate and then judge how each candidate relates to and otherwise interprets each question. Ask the candidate what he would do in a particular situation. Look for a positive response to the question, and listen to and look at the candidate's thought processes. Comparing the responses will greatly assist in determining the best candidate for the position. Also determine how the candidate's current job environment is similar to or different from yours. Be prepared to make a quick decision. Qualified candidates are in high demand and may go elsewhere due to the highly competitive marketplace.
Ron Bartlebaugh is director of engineering for the WKSU Stations, Kent, OH, and president of Audio and Broadcast Specialists, Akron, OH.