When you’re on the mission of jumpstarting your career in any creative industry, the first thing you should be setting your sights on doing is becoming a named commodity. This means you need to become known by the people in positions of power. Getting known to those in “the know” gets plenty of lipservice. But the area that people don’t talk about all that regularly is the fact that even after you get your foot in the door, you also need to showcase your abilities. Yes, you need to be dependable. Yes, you need to be likeable. Yes, you need to be a hard worker.
And you need to know when to stand up and say, “I know how to do that.”
It’s true that when you’re first starting out in any job you don’t want to be that person who walks in over-confident and cocky. You want to be humble, take instruction, and demonstrate your ability to get the job done. Even if you already know how to do everything, learn the intricasies. It’s really the only way to showcase the fact that you’re humble and willing to put in the time and effort into developing your skillset and abilities to work within the established framework.
Now, here’s the catch. You’ve got to work in talking or showcasing your skills and accomplishments without being annoying or grandiose about it. Making sure the people in positions of power know what you’re capable of without leaving a bad taste in their mouths (or making coworkers dislike you) requires finesse. If you have side or freelance projects, talk about them in casual conversation. If you’re involved in creative competitions, talk about it in front of your superiors. If you go to conventions, share insights and opinions on what you learned or saw. All of the aformetioned tactics can work especially well if you can also find ways such information can be of immediate benefit to your superiors. Make their lives easier and they’ll remember you for it!
The hard truth of the matter is that no one is going to promote you except you. This is a hard lesson for many creatives to learn. No one is going to “discover” you. Hence, you need to champion your own success and send out your own signal flares.
Remember it’s all about balancing that fine line. You don’t want to have a chip on your shoulder about what you have to prove, but you definitely don’t want to seem like a slacker either. It’s all about doing the work, talking about the work when it’s appropriate, and being a kind person.
When working in any creative industry, whether that’s music, film, radio, the culinary arts, or anywhere in media, being able to read the social equilibrium is super important. Get a feel for the rooms and people you’re surrounded by. Then, dial up or dial down your personal frequency to suit your surroundings. Being able to read the room and step in with a solution at the right moment is a career boosting technique all serious creatives should develop.
The best thing that you can do for yourself when you’re angling on making a career for yourself in the arts is to always be doing i.e. if you’re an aspiring music producer, you should be releasing tracks, if you’re a screenwriter you should be writing (and finishing) screenplays. If you’re an aspiring radio DJ you should be recording spots, even mock ones, and yes, you should have a
That way when people ask, “What do you have to show me?” you’re ready to show them just what you’re made of.
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