By Pamela Rodi
MARCH 9, 2009
Welcome to Women In Film’s newest weekly online feature - the Career Lounge. Every Tuesday we’ll be providing you with useful, practical information - for all levels of experience and disciplines - to make your career everything you want it to be. We’ll be talking about careers from every angle, from job hunting and resume, reel and portfolio preparation to maintaining an upward career trajectory when you’re on one and when it might be time to switch gears altogether. We’ll be interviewing head hunters, career advisors, human resources directors and employees, as well as talking to people in the trenches of making career changes, and sharing with you their experiences and tips.
We’ll take a look at and review the most effective websites and books out there for reference and resources, and recommend professionals who specialize in one-on-one career coaching. We’ll talk with women and men who have launched and successfully run their own businesses, and those who run studios and networks. And we’ll get into some of the more controversial workplace issues people face, including ageism, the new face of sexism and coming back from career missteps.
And so, to business.
Economic times being what they are, with uncertainty in the air and folks in general hunkering down, this is a good time to take stock of your professional self and your career. It’s when we are job hunting that we tend to put our best foot forward, getting our ducks in a row and being “on”. But just like good eating habits last a lifetime, good career habits do, too, and keep you prepared for opportunities that might come your way.
So whether your agenda right now is finding a new job, holding on to the one you have or making forward movement, getting professionally organized is the first step.
01.TAKE STOCK Check in with yourself to see if you’re on the right track. Chances are good you know this instinctively. You might not be happy with the particular job you’re doing right now, it may be low paying or unchallenging, and you may not have many other options. But there is a difference between the relative tedium of paying ones dues and knowing the job or area of business or company is not for you. If it doesn’t feel right, start the process of investigating areas that are of greater interest and identifying for yourself what’s missing. People do their best work when they are challenged and motivated. You are the only one who can truly define your own professional goals.
02.CHECK YOUR BRAND Your personal brand is everything you present to the world – it is, in essence, your reputation, or what you are “known for” within your professional circles. Sometimes, when things are bad and we’re not feeling confident, our brand gets tarnished, and it can take precious time to recapture. Know what it is you want your brand to represent and focus on maintaining that, even when the circumstances are not ideal.
03.BE PREPARED A career today requires more than a resume to communicate the depth of experience and creativity. An updated resume, portfolio and website, or internet representation, are essential. You need to be able at a moment’s notice to forward a resume, a portfolio pdf or a link to clips to a prospective employer. If your material is outdated or sloppily assembled, it will reflect poorly on you. Make sure the technology works on your end and that you have tested sending your materials out to friends that they arrive looking the way you intend.
04.GET POSTED Your postings on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others also need to be updated frequently, adding new projects and creative. Ditto to getting your resume and work on job and executive search sites as well. We will do a future piece on using social networking for job hunting and look at some current stats on getting jobs online.
05.PRACTICE GOOD BUSINESS HABITS High-pressure jobs and demands can cause people to slip-up badly in this department. If you are becoming one of those people who doesn’t return calls or emails, rarely says please or thank you, and tends to bark orders rather then communicate, pull back. There is no need to be rude to be tough. If you’re a senior executive, you know better and need to set a better example. If you’re a kid, you’re going to be perceived as snotty and with attitude. It’s about treating others with respect regardless of their stature or level of responsibility. If the altruistic aspect of a kinder business environment doesn’t interest you, consider that someone whose call you don’t return could be a client or boss one day.
06.PRACTICE SANE THINKING Our individual career success is a result of our own skills, desires, wishes, motivations, dedication, hard work and yes, opportunity and luck. Our “who’s number one at the box office” mentality can make anyone who is not in that top spot feel like a failure. Avoid this way of thinking at all costs. There is no upside to it. Your satisfaction needs to come from the work and knowing that you are doing everything you can to achieve your goals.
07.DEAL WITH THE POLITICS Politics exist to one degree or another in every social and business setting. There are groups and cliques and alliances and territory and power disputes and things can sometimes get very nasty and you can find yourself on the wrong side of a fight you didn’t even know you were in. Where you fit is part of what you learn about yourself as your career progresses. But whether you are initiator, a perpetrator or an observer, an understanding of the political landscape in your area is an important tool.
08.GET OUT THERE In addition to your social networking online, you need to make real face time with your industry colleagues and leaders as well. Personal contact may even be more important than ever when we are so accustomed to communicating digitally, and it is easier to forget someone you have only met online. Attend events and screenings, join groups like Women In Film and network. As we all know, and will explore in future columns, it is relationships that get us jobs and helps build our career.
09.STAY INFORMED Read the trades, the major newspapers, the entertainment sites, to stay informed about what is going on in the business. Agents and publicists know This is one of the best ways though editorial, to discover changes happening within a company or with individuals. Knowledge is powerful in many ways.
…and when in doubt…
10.PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND DO THE WORK There are times when things are in an upheaval, when you feel like you are working your butt off to no rewards, when management is changing around you. These are the times to put your head down and concentrate on the work. Amazingly, it is the most head-clearing thing you can do, because it grounds you and reminds you of why you chose this career in the first place.
NEXT WEEK – Interview with COREY NATHAN, Co-Owner of entertainment executive search firm Nathan, McDowell & Rose.