Christmas is just ’round the corner, and I got a new job for an early gift!
You’ll be happy to hear how, after roughly four thousand interviews of the voice, video and shared airspace variety, I landed a salaried job. I’m the copywriter for a fairly substantial corporation. It’s what they call “in-house writing.”
With all that job hunting experience, I thought I’d drop a few pearls of wisdom for you writer types out there who might also be looking for a day job to pay the bills.
- Figure out what you want. And stick to it. It may sound like self-help mumbo jumbo, but it is so very powerful. I remember when, working as an hourly employee at an ad agency, I looked around at those fancy-free salaried folks and thought, “Why not me?” I’m talented, intelligent, and worth the benefits and perks that come from knowing my next paycheck was on its way, with no “maybes” attached. I didn’t chase parttime ventures during this job search go-round. I didn’t waste my time on ridiculously low-paying jobs. (Hint: there are lots of ridiculously low-paying jobs out there for writers.)
- Don’t be ridiculous. While you have worth, you need to be reasonable. I didn’t ask for crazy high pay. It’s frustrating that many companies expect you to open the negotiations for pay, which puts you wrong-footed from the start. (Did I ask for too much? Am I underselling? Am I out of the game already?) But that’s usually how it goes, so do your research and find out what’s reasonable for salaries for your position and experience. Negotiate accordingly.
- Be yourself. (Unless you’re an a-hole. Don’t be an a-hole.) Just getting a job is not your only objective! Getting a job that won’t make getting out of bed feel like a trudge, that makes you feel valuable AND pays the bills: that’s the goal. Be honest with your interests and goals. Be smart, too: do research on the company, and if you can tie in how your championship status in cosmic bowling will match the company’s objective, then by all means: mention that! If the company is lukewarm about who you are, and you feel ambivalent about them, then maybe you ought to move on down the line.
- Wait, all that stuff under #3 is about personality, not skills … ? Yes, that’s right. Skills matter, and you should do a fabulous job of both having them and selling them with your resume and cover letter, and “elevator speech.” But much of the interview process is actually about how well you’ll fit in the company. Do more than just sell yourself as a great potential employee; scope them out, too.
Don’t lose sight of your personal and creative goals! Most companies (good ones, anyhow) will realize that your creative endeavors round you out, and add value to your work—even for a corporation! Yes, really! My bosses and co-workers were genuinely interested (impressed, even) regarding my mermaid novellas on Amazon.
Good luck with finding the day job, fellow writers! Hey, if it works out, you can crank out your next graphic novel AND put pork in the pan (shout out to CCR.) And if it sucks, well, it’s all fodder for the plot of your next book.