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Career Coach: Foolproof Your Career

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson discusses those foolish moments that could hinder jobs or careers.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

"I pity the fool"–Mr. T, Rocky III

People do a lot of dumb things to sabotage themselves. No one is immune -- not even me. Watch out for these ways we make fools of ourselves.

Failure to Follow Up When I graduated from college, I wanted to be a film editor. I made cold calls to production companies and editing facilities to try to find work. One of the people I contacted was a film editor named Carol Littleton. She offered to meet with me but I didn't go to the interview. I don't remember why, but I do remember thinking I should have called her to tell her I couldn't make it and try to arrange to meet another time. But I didn't. A few years later, Carol Littleton was nominated for an Oscar for editing E.T. :The Extra-Terrestrial. Ooops.

Overlooked Opportunity A while ago, a candidate called me and told me that he was looking for work at Blue Sky Studios. I told him there were thousands of companies he could apply to but he was insistent that it be Blue Sky so I gave him the name of the in-house recruiter and the phone number and wished him luck in his job hunt. I told him that Blue Sky may not be looking for someone with his skill set at the moment, and it might be a while before they did. He eventually was hired at Blue Sky-- many years later.But how many opportunities did he miss in the meantime?

Being open and flexible could have a huge impact on your career. Shortly after working on the feature Bebe's Kids, I was looking for my next job, but there were few animated features in production at that time. After answering an ad in Variety, I interviewed for a management role at a videogame company that was 55 miles from my home and got the job.

The first day I went to work full of trepidation. I didn't have experience in videogames. I didn't have experience as a manager in a corporation. I wondered if I would be able to handle the job. When I returned home that night, I announced to my husband that it was a darn good thing they hired me as they really needed help in managing their productions. I learned a lot on that job, including the fact that companies hire people called recruiters to help them find the staff they need. That opened my eyes to a whole new career. If I had overlooked the opportunity to work at the videogame company, I would not have learned about recruiting, which I have been doing since 1995.

Obfuscating Your Brain with Alcohol or Drugs A sure way to cut your career and your life short is to indulge in alcohol or drugs.

When I worked on the second season of the The Simpsons in 1990, one of the artists had to be bailed out of jail. He had been arrested on a DUI charge. Although he completed the work on the show, he was not invited back to work on more episodes, as the producer thought he was unreliable. He obviously missed out on some fairly steady work, since The Simpsons has been on the air for more than 20 years.

Lose Faith in Yourself and Let go of your Dreams.

The worst thing you can do is not believe enough in yourself to pursue what you really want to do. Find work that is fulfilling, challenging and worthwhile and devote yourself to doing it well.

Anything else would be foolish.

As a career coach, Pamela Klebrink Thompson helps her clients pursue their dream jobs with practical strategies and plans. She will be presenting "Make First Impressions Last, a Networking Workshop" on April 12 in Boise, Idaho. She is a career coach and recruiter and available for speaking engagements. She is also a founding member and on the Board of Women in Animation, a member of the Visual Effects Society and a member of Idaho Media Professionals.  You can reach her for recruiting, speaking engagements or career coaching at