If you’re thinking about starting to look for a new job, the most important tool you'll need to get started is a skills list – that is, a long list of all the responsibilities and projects you’ve taken on in previous roles and the skills you’ve learned from each. It takes some time to create a skills list, but it's very worthwhile, because it helps you see your main strengths and pinpoint projects you were proud of. Not only will this be a huge confidence boost, but it will also serve as the basis for your resume and interview anecdotes.
To create a skills list, make a chart that lists out all the previous roles you’ve held. And don’t limit this to paid work experience either. Volunteer experience and leadership roles in school count as well. Even acting as a parent or caretaker can provide skills that will be useful at work – your skills can come from anywhere!
Under each entry, think about all the things you did in that role. What did your day to day look like? What were some key projects you completed? What were your biggest achievements? List them out, then look at each to extract the core skill you used for every task.
As you list out the skills, you’ll probably notice some repetition – and that’s a good thing! These are indicators of your main areas of expertise. And by creating a skills list, you now have evidence to back up the fact that you have deep experience in these areas. These are the things you are going to want to highlight in your personal branding materials and during interviews. Be sure to refer back to your skills list when you work on your job applications.
As you look at the final document, consider what tasks you enjoyed doing and would want to continue doing in future roles. Target your job search to roles that will let you utilize your main areas of expertise in a way that excites you. And most importantly, take a moment (or more!) to be proud of everything you've accomplished so far, and reread your list whenever your job search leads to self-doubt. Your imposter syndrome voice will quiet down when you force it to face the fact of everything awesome you've achieved.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Remote work -- whether it's full-time or flex -- has become incredibly common. But many entry-level employees who've only worked remotely miss the opportunity to learn professional norms and expectations that their more established colleagues (and bosses!) had access to in the office. And those farther along in their careers often find it's a lot harder to prove their worth to their boss and colleagues without that valuable face time, which makes getting a raise or promotion that much harder. But remote work is here to stay, and you can absolutely grow professionally without ever setting foot in an office. Here's how:
Communicate regularly. Just because you’re out of sight doesn’t mean you have to be out of mind. Make sure you communicate with your supervisor regularly, especially if you work remotely full-time. You don’t want to send an email every time you complete a task, but you should find a way to make sure your boss and team can track your work. Depending on your office culture, this might be updating a project management tracker like Airtable and/or sending daily or weekly highlight emails with a 30,000 foot version of what you've accomplished. You should also set recurring one-on-ones with your supervisor. Make sure you reply to any emails that are sent your way in a timely fashion and ping your boss when you complete a big project. One of the advantages of working remotely is the flexibility to pop out for a daytime appointment or errand, but when you do this, let your boss know if you'll be out of pocket for an extended period of time, so they don't panic when they can't reach you.
Meet all deadlines...early. When you work remotely, it’s critical that you deliver all of your work on time. Meeting a deadline is the sign of a diligent employee. If you truly want to impress your boss, though, do your best to turn big projects in ahead of schedule. Without the distractions of officemates, it should be easier to focus. Since you don’t have access to your boss to pop into her office and let her know your ETA for a deliverable, turning work in early will ensure she never even suspects you may be late. Of course, some assignments take the full amount of time allotted (and some deadlines are unreasonable), so you won’t always be able to turn your work in early. Don’t worry -- just shoot your boss an email along the way confirming you’re on the right track so she doesn’t get nervous, especially if she’s a micro-manager.
Keep to a schedule. This tip is more for your mental health than your work output -- but a happy employee is a good employee! It’s easy to let your time slip away from you when you work remotely full-time, and you may find yourself working all day and all night. Or you fill your day with non-work activities until suddenly, it’s 9:00pm on Thursday and you haven't started on the big project you promised to turn in by the end of the week! To avoid this pitfall, make a schedule and find a dedicated workspace. If you can get all of your work done in 5 hours a day, there’s no need to work 8. As long as you’re available during normal business hours for emergencies, you can build a schedule that has you working half the morning and half the evening, with the afternoons free for whatever else delights you. The important thing is to block off work hours in your calendar and find a place to do your work that’s free of non-work distractions. Bake some exercise into your day too -- it’s easy to be dormant when there’s no real reason to go anywhere, and your mental health will suffer if you don’t move around. You don’t need to join a gym if that’s not your thing, but you should at least let yourself outside for a walk like you would a golden retriever.
Take initiative. You want to show your team that you're invested in the work and showing up with your full self, rather than coasting. This is true in the office, too, but it's more important when you're working from home. You should engage with your colleagues in meetings, whether that's by having your video on during calls or sharing ideas during brainstorming sessions. If there's an opportunity to take on a new project, complete a one-off task, or lead a meeting, volunteer! This is especially true if part of your team works in the office while you're remote -- you want access to the same opportunities they have to grow. You may have to ask your boss for more responsibility (a good thing to do in your one-on-ones!) if nothing is offered to you, but make sure you're also stepping up to take on the projects that are being handed out.
Don't ghost your boss. This one seems obvious, but trust us: It’s not always that obvious. Remote freelancers sometimes move on to new projects and assume no one will notice that they’ve stopped turning in work. Your boss notices, and if you ever want to resume freelancing at that company -- or if a future employer calls for a recommendation -- your ghosting will come back to haunt you. It’s totally okay to quit a job, but you should do so courteously. Email or call your boss and give your notice. You may not need to give a full two weeks if your position was on a rolling basis or freelance, but you should give your boss a heads-up and offer to finish off any outstanding work. Let your boss know exactly what you’ve completed and what you haven’t and turn in any documents, data, or login credentials that your replacement might need.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
When you’re applying for jobs, your instinct is going to be to stand out from the crowd of resumes. How can you get the hiring manager to pay attention to your resume among the hundreds that rush in?
Contrary to what you may think, though, the trick isn’t to reinvent the resume format with crazy colors and kooky graphics (remember, hiring managers spend a very short amount of time with resumes and want a familiar looking document). Nor is it to stray from convention with your writing style -- cramming in a professional bio, mini-cover letter, or case study isn’t going to help your case. Rather, the trick is to simply tell YOUR story.
That’s right, you ARE enough. The work you’ve done, the perspective you’ve gained from your experience – that’s what the hiring manager wants to see! If you can clearly convey to the hiring manager that you have the requisite skills for the posting, that’s enough.
The keyword there is “clearly.” Make sure the hiring manager can draw a direct line from the posting to your resume. They’re looking for someone who has a robust network of contacts across the industry? Include a bullet that says, “Cultivated relationships with established and up-and-coming writers, directors, and showrunners to curate a slate of 10 projects” and highlight that you’re a member of HRTS. They want someone who can deliver projects across multiple formats? Include a bullet that says, “Supervised post-production process to deliver multimedia series SHOW X across multiple formats, including broadcast, digital, and social.” This will yield far stronger results than a resume that splashes company logos across the border or includes a mission statement that uses meaningless buzzwords.
Let your actual work product and achievements speak for themselves. Most candidates don’t do this, and many don’t even fully read the posting before submitting their applications. The biggest differentiator? Being someone who is focused, thorough, and thoughtful with their application.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
These days, it seems like a new round of layoffs is being announced almost daily across big media companies. There are a lot of emotions you may be experiencing if you've been impacted, and that's totally normal. But getting laid off doesn't mean your career is over! Here are some steps you can take to make the best of your situation and get back on your feet quickly.
Let your contacts know what happened. There's nothing to be ashamed of if you've been let go -- corporate decisions are about bottom lines, not performance. As soon as you learn about a layoff, you want to tie up loose ends on any current projects and make sure all your contacts know how to reach you. Remember, the relationships you've built through your work are yours to keep even after you've been let go. Most people will be extremely understanding, empathetic, and generous after hearing about a layoff. Send an individual email to every person you had a current project with -- internally and externally -- and let them know that you enjoyed working with them and would love to stay in touch. Next, do the same thing for all contacts you've worked with previously while at the company, your closest industry contacts, and anyone in your network you are hoping to get back in touch with -- a layoff is actually a great opportunity to reignite old relationships! If you already know what you want your next career move to be, include it in the email, so your contacts can keep an eye out. This process can take up to a week to complete, but you’ll be amazed at the generosity you’ll encounter. Expect your calendar to fill up with lunches and coffees very quickly after you send your emails, and try to have your resume ready for anyone who offers to pass it along.
Take some time to relax. If you were working at a company that was forced to cut their staff, it’s likely because things weren’t going well for that company. You probably felt that stress at work on a daily basis, and maybe you were starting to get a bit burned out. Before bouncing back to a job search, it’s a good idea to take a couple of weeks to relax (or more if you got a great severance package) – travel, hike, spend time with your family and friends, catch a middle-of-the-day gym class -- whatever you enjoy that fits your budget. It will help you start to get over any resentment you have about the layoff and let you approach the upcoming job search feeling refreshed.
Set some targets. Without a full-time job to worry about, now is a good time to step back and assess your career. Are you happy with the path you were on, or is it time to try something new? If you’re going to explore a career transition, you’ll need to spend a lot of time doing research on the new path, maybe even working with a career coach to figure out what that path should be. This step could take a couple of days or a couple of months, but you should come out with a very clear direction for yourself. With some targets in mind, you’ll be able to approach the job search much more effectively.
Update your application materials. Though revisiting your accomplishments from your previous role may sound like a surefire way to experience bitterness, try to take a moment to remind yourself, once again, that your layoff is a reflection of the company, not of you. Now is when your work will be freshest in your mind, so it's a good idea to write down all the projects you worked on and any results you were proud of. This exercise will serve as a great basis for your resume, LinkedIn profile, and future job interviews, and the sooner you can complete it, the more detailed it will be. Once you've taken stock of your work and set your sights on what's next, update your LinkedIn profile and resume to align with your goals. We recommend starting with LinkedIn, since it can be used as a networking tool. You’ll want to update your master resume as well, but be ready to make changes to it as you tailor it to each job posting.
Take advantage of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an amazing resource for general job searches and networking, but it really shines as a tool if you've been laid off. While your initial round of emails should have kicked off the networking process for you nicely, announcing your layoff on LinkedIn will generate a bigger response from your wider network. The best version of this LinkedIn post includes the news that you've been impacted by the recent layoff, an acknowledgement of your positive experiences at the company (your team, anything you learned, projects you're really proud of), and a clear call-to-action about what you'd like your next step to be (e.g. "I'd love to continue working in comedy development;" or "My passion lies in helping clients produce compelling marketing content, and I'm excited about the growing opportunities in the metaverse. I'd love to land in a client-facing role at a company looking to expand its VR/AR capabilities."). You'll likely see many likes and comments roll in, all of which will help your visibility to recruiters. Because layoffs are so common these days, you may also see posts in your newsfeed from contacts looking to help people who are affected -- there are even some spreadsheets of recently laid-off workers at some of the larger companies that have circulated across the platform. If someone you know posts a job opening or other offer to help job seekers impacted by layoffs, take them up on it! Additionally, make sure to toggle on the "open to work" setting on your profile so recruiters can find you. As always, you can start to more aggressively pursue informational interviews at companies of interest once you have some clear targets in mind and have an updated profile, and you can use LinkedIn to find the right people to make warm intros. Once you have your network working for you, the rest should start to fall into place. Just make sure you are doing everything possible to get your resume into a real person’s hands when you actually start applying for open roles. And most importantly, don’t get down on yourself about the layoff! It's not your fault and you're not alone in this experience. If you are strategic about pursuing your goals, you’ll be back in the game in no time.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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