Not Giving Up Just Yet...
I miss making my own money. It has been almost 11 months since I quit my job in broadcast news and while I miss being the thick of it, knowing a lot about what's going on in the world around me, being on top of breaking news, getting the story first and fast, I know I have to be strong and keep looking for a career that will make me happy. Sure, it would be easy to send in my resume to another television news station after spending nearly 20 years building a career as a Producer. Some people still ask me what that person does. For clarity, we're not in front of the camera. Producers, along with directors, photographers, camera ops, writers, and editors are among the unsung people in the control room. That room that buzzes with power from morning until night. The news that never rests, never takes a break, (almost) never complains. Producers make the tough decisions when things get heated. We're timing the show, editing the show, writing stories and teases for the show, making graphics for the show, putting audio clips in the show, assigning camera shots, monitoring live shots, establishing phone interviews, telling the reporters where to go, telling the anchors what's next and how much time they have left to tell a story, posting the story on social media and the station's website, archiving the show, looking for archive stories online and on Beta tapes (yes, they still exist!), etc. I think you get the point. We do a lot! And no, we don't make nearly as much money as news anchors do. Their jobs are so different from ours and while talent gets a lot of the credit on television, the producers are the backbone of the newsroom.
I spent 17 years striving to be the perfect producer. I came in early and left late. I spent 12 years on overnight shifts leaving my husband to fend for himself, countless hours on planning live segments, breaking down in front of some of my bosses, and missed parties and weekends for years on end. I've also felt the consequences of speaking up for myself (In front of a female executive who said my story was confidential. That turned out not to be true and I was demoted less than a week later. This wouldn't be the first or last time I felt betrayed). The truth is, despite years of success, I lost a lot of trust in the business and the people in charge of it. Special shout out to the producers and tireless reporters and anchors who are still in the game. You are much stronger than I in many respects!
Rather than cry about it for the one thousandth time, I did something about it. I quit. I abandoned the career I studied for in college. The one I started at 19 years old and left at 37. Now my job is to start over from scratch and I have never been more determined. It took time, a lot of tears, and a lot of soul-searching but I think I've finally crossed that line of fear and self-doubt to get into something new. After reading an endless amount of articles on job searching and starting over, here are some of my recommendations to stay in the game and not give up on your job search.
1. Get on LinkedIn
I know. I know. You've heard this before but it is true. You want people to know you're looking for a new career/job. Create an excellent profile, don't lie (people will eventually find out you don't know Ruby on Rails or how to measure API on your ROI. Okay, I made that last part up but you get what I'm saying), and connect with people and companies you might be interested in. Even if they're not in the field you have experience in, put yourself out there. You'll be surprised by the people who want to help you out!
2. Set up informational interviews
This can be intimidating yes, but in the end, totally worth it! The interview doesn't have to be in person even though that's the best way to connect IMO. You can do this over phone or Skype too. Just try it. Worst answer you'll get is a no, right?
3. Keep updating your resume
For years, I left my resume alone. As a News Producer, it was all about who you knew and what skills you could bring to the table so it has been awhile since I had to use one. I was lucky in that sense. There are so many resources to create a great resume. Again, don't lie. People will see right through that eventually. But also, play up what you are capable of. If it's a big project you oversaw or a successful marketing campaign you spearheaded, make sure people know that! I will even put myself out on a limb here and post my own LinkedIn resume. Feel free to grab ideas.
Sure, these events could be hit or miss but what would you do otherwise after applying to endless job boards or classified ads? You never know who you will meet or when. Also, make sure you follow up with the people you met either through an email, LinkedIn message, or schedule an informational meeting over coffee. Worst case scenario, you've made a new contact or friend. Eventbrite is a great resource to find out where these networking events are happening. Many of them are free or cheap to attend! I also subscribe to Work It Daily on YouTube to stay inspired during my job search. Here's a good video on avoiding networking mistakes.
5. Make sure you're still hanging out with good friends
It's easy to want to stay in bed all day and eat everything in your fridge. But remember why you wanted to start over in the first place. You want to be happier, more fulfilled, be a better person, etc. Whatever your reason, keep in touch with the people who have your back.
I can't stress this enough. So many times after I wanted to give up on the job search, I stayed the course and volunteered. Not only are you giving back to your community, you can gain skills you didn't even think were possible. I love volunteering for CUESA at my local farmer's market. I teach kids how to eat healthier, got advice and made friends with a baker and a nutritionist who helped me lose weight (Thanks Sarah Hawthorne), and helped serve grilled cheese sandwiches with the founders of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen!
7. Keep applying!
I spent all day Friday applying for six jobs. I know that sounds extreme but I also made sure the company knew who I was, searched for people within that company who I might know or went to school with (Michigan State University has a group that meets up in SF!), followed them on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and followed up with the companies every few weeks.
I'll leave you with this. Don't give up. Keep your head up. Go outside and enjoy the free time. Write! Read a book. Travel (link to my Cuba blog here). And to quote one of my favorite journalism shows on TV right now, Good Girls Revolt... "Be good and let those who aren't be clever." I like being clever.