Friday, February 28, 2014

Staying in the game - professionally.

If you intend to make a living from working in the production world in part or in whole, you have to understand that there's more to getting hired than performing adequately (if you even do that.) There are a host of other things one should be aware of in order to keep getting hired which especially in the absence of experience or ability - can help get you hired often enough for you prove yourself:

Don't make more work for your employer

People get hired to work. That's the entirety of your reason for existence as an employee or crew member. The biggest part of doing the work means you're not creating more work or problems for your boss. Adding work comes in many forms:
  • Not doing it right the first time (necessitating the need for your boss to do the work themselves or requiring redundant activity to get it done.)
  • Requiring lengthy explanations or having discussions about minutia (know your job and do it but if you're not sure - ask, and don't get mired in peripheral stuff.)
  • Breaking/misplacing stuff (keep your head in the game 100% and be OCD about the small parts.)
  • Wasting time (your boss knows exactly how long it should take to perform a task - trust me.) 

Be early - Stay late

As a noob, nothing shows gratitude and interest like showing up early and staying late. If you're still learning the ropes it especially behooves you to show up early and stay late because it means you genuinely want to become a better worker, it shows that you're invested in the entire enterprise, and it shows gratitude for the work. Noobs who think they deserve regular and well-defined work hours can enjoy such rigid work windows in call centers and fast food positions.

Show interest

As mentioned, showing interest is always appreciated and noticed. This can take the form of merely your level of attention. Do you watch and listen, or do you spend more time socializing during moments of pause or breaks in the action? What you do with your time when these intervals occur says a lot about your interest. An experienced professional who is 100% effective and efficient with their time on work days is on another level than someone starting out, so bridging the gap in your lack of experience by at least watching, listening, and being nearby is amazing.

Don't brag about averting disaster

You might think it advantageous to show (after the fact) how you fixed something that went wrong on your watch but you have to be careful associating yourself with a malfunction in the first place. You might feel like a hero and you might very well be, but in the end, it's the completed work that matters, not how you got there.

Be responsive

Everyone everywhere has smart phones in their hands nearly 24/7. There's no excuse (for people living in civilized parts of the world) not to provide timely responses - ever. At the very least, confirm reception of a message even if you cannot elaborate right away. Not responding as quickly as possible gums up the works and slows down the whole machine because of the chain reaction of everyone in the chain waiting for a response.

If you're email is "screwed up," fix it. If you're phone is broken, get a new one. If your phone bill isn't paid, pay it and only then try to get work. A fully functional smart phone is an essential tool for getting work. Don't cut corners with a phone or phone service.

Be likable

No, not everyone is going to like you, but if you're likable it at least helps to keep a certain amount of people in your camp. If three people decide if you get hired again and one out of the three likes you, that can mean you get hired. Nobody wants to work with people they don't like, so being likable is essentially a prerequisite for survival in the work place.

Being generally likable as simply as it can be put involves making eye contact, showing a sense of humor, showing interest, being interesting, having some sense of style, speaking clearly and understandably, and offering to go out of your way for your employer.

And when you get "in," try to avoid being too political. Taking sides can bite you in the ass and always be nice to people you work with because you never know who may end up with the work.

Be thankful

Unless you work in a market where nobody else can do your job, you almost always have competition for your job in some form. I feel lucky to work in the industry I work in and as such, I tend to always go above and beyond whenever possible. Anyone who doesn't simply say - "thank you" in response to paying work is in trouble because when someone who's likable and at least as good (or better) at doing the same job comes along and they show the requisite gratitude, that could mean that they get the work instead.

A producer once told me she never got a thank you for the work she gave someone when she called me about doing that work instead. Say thanks. It's easy and it means something. People who give you work may not always (or ever) compliment you, but if they keep hiring you, that's the important thing. And don't make the mistake of ever thinking you're doing an employer a favor (by doing the work.) Unless you're a world renowned brain surgeon, the work you get is a gift.


©2014 Chris Santucci



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