Career Coach: A Dirty Dozen
April 1 is April Fool’s Day--a good time to review 12 mistakes we foolishly make in our careers.
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.
1. Failure to maintain your network. Even if you have a staff job, you need to maintain and grow your network. Feed information and help into your network, so if you ever have to tap into it, people will be there to help you. But you have to help them first. Don’t wait until you get laid off to think about networking. Make it a daily habit.
2. Failure to keep your resume and reel up to date. Keep track of every job you do and every project you work on. Get material for your reel. But don’t show any images that have not yet been released to everyone, unless you have express permission from the company to do so.
3. Talking smack about employers and co-workers, whether present or past. Don’t post remarks on the internet that are negative about anyone in the industry or media. A friend of mine discovered that her employee was complaining about her company and its projects on Facebook. It’s a sure way to lose your job. If you are unhappy, figure out a solution and make a presentation to those who could make changes. Don’t air your grievances to the public or you will be perceived as a whiner, or worse–a saboteur.
4. Failure to improve and update skills. Stay up to date on the software used in your specialty. Even if your employer uses proprietary software take classes or teach yourself commercial software that is readily available. Check job postings to see what is in current demand. Know what is needed and be ready to fill that need. It never hurts to add to your skills and software knowledge. A number of years ago, I worked on a feature called Bebe’s Kids. It was one of the last features done in traditional ink and paint. I spoke to one of the painters about learning digital ink and paint and she claimed that she was too old to learn anything new. You are getting older every day and a year from now you will be a year older, whether you learn a new skill or not.
5. Failure to take advantage of savings programs. Perhaps your company has a 401K plan in which the employer matches part of your contribution to a pension plan. If such a program is available to you, take advantage of it. Financial planners say that employees should always contribute at least enough into their 401k to receive the full employer-matching contribution. If you're not getting the match, you are losing out on free money.
Another way to potentially boost your income or at least to save immediately, is to participate in an Employee Stock Purchase Plan. This company-run program gives employees an opportunity to purchase company shares at a discounted price. It’s a way to save money too because you contribute to the plan through payroll deductions. The amount of the discount depends on the specific plan but can be as much as 15% lower than the market price. This is a way for you to have an automatic boost of as much of 15% in earnings.
6. Failure to plan ahead and save money. Save as much as you can for the future. It will give you some freedom in this world of unstable work. A few years ago, my husband overheard two young artists who were just laid off, facing their first hiatus from Nickelodeon. The conversation went something like this:
“Dude, I need to find a job fast.”
“I’m going to take some time off and work on my personal project. And I’m planning a short trip too.”
“Dude, how can you do that?”
“I saved some of every paycheck since we started.”
“Dude, I spent it all on concerts, comic books and restaurants.” (He looks around the fast food restaurant). “Maybe I can get a job here to tide me over.”