So you want to be a pro staffer
So you’re a great angler and you think you want to raise your game to that proverbial next level. Now you want to get on a pro staff. First you have to understand that the pro staff world has been badly diluted, since the onset of social media, yet it’s still a mandatory stepping stone. Second is that you can no longer just be a good fisherman, and still stay relevant in today’s market. Third and most important is that these positions are now part of a growing business model, that means you have to be a business professional first and angler second. So given these facts there are things you can do in searching out a pro staff position that can help you along the way. Rather than write of my own experience I spoke with three large outdoor companies pro staff managers and two professional anglers.
Social Media is the most interesting topic to me because it still seems to be all over the board. I asked Engle Coolers, B’n’M poles, and Jenko Fishing pro staff managers the same question. “On a scale of 1-10 how important is a large social media presence in your pro staff decisions?”
Chris Holloway of Engle coolers replied that it’s a 10 for them. They first look at an applicant’s social media following in the vetting process. It’s important to Engle that an applicant has a large following on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram. They equate followers and potential new customers. In the highly competitive world of high end coolers this actually makes sense. You ability as a fisherman or Hunter is secondary to your social media following here. Even though as an angler I don’t agree that social media trumps actual ability, I can see their point. The best angler does not always make the best use of the social media platforms available.
Kent Driscoll of B’n’M poles replied that it is a 6 for them and he feels it will become more important to them in the future. They currently focus more in different areas.
Tony Shephard of Jenko Fishing replied that social media presence is the first thing he looks at in potential applicants. They are able to help an average angler along if they are well spoken on social media.
Outdoor Resume is another big question in the industry. I asked all three managers how important a resume was when looking at a new applicant. Much like social media this topic is night and day. The resume indicates a commitment to professionalism in some circles and is seen as just another piece of paper in others.
Chris Holloway of Engle Coolers replied That it’s not the first thing they look at but it is relevant during the process.
Kent Driscoll of B’n’M poles said this is the first thing he looks for. He has seen that anglers who take the time to make a resume tend to be more businesslike in their approach to both companies and the general public. They also like to see the chronological track record of all applicants, the resume is the perfect vehicle to do just that.
Tony Shephard of Jenko Fishing replied they do also want to see a resume on each applicant during the process. As he so eloquently stated, “This is a business and we want people who will represent the brand well”.
Finally I asked about Appearance to each manager. Appearance meaning not just the way an applicant dresses in their photographs and social media posts but, how they portray themselves while setting behind a computer screen. To properly discuss appearance its need to be broken down into a couple subtopics. First is visual appearance second is virtual appearance, as in social media perception.
In Visual appearance all three companies are looking to see if the applicants maintain a professional appearance. Do they wear their jersey at tournaments and media events? Most are just looking to insure you are willing to represent their brand is a professional manner. The fishing industry gets a bad rap of being a group of country folks who always wear sleeveless t-shirts and dirty jeans.
In virtual appearance they are looking to see how you represent yourself on social media. Are you well spoken or do you post rants about a litany of things that are way to controversial for them to share on their website. Most agree it’s best to build a professional page and keep it separate from your personal social media accounts.
I also spoke with two of crappie fishing’s most famous and successful anglers, Whitey Outlaw and Ronnie Capps. They both gave the same reply when I asked them to tell me one piece of advice for aspiring professional anglers. Both said “Do not over promise what you can do” and “Conduct yourself as an ambassador to the sport at all times”.
Troy Basso is a freelance writer and Photographer from Chapel Hill, Tennessee. He can be reached through his website at www.troybassooutdoors.com