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The Career Coach: Put Time Between Jobs to Good Use

Whether you just need some time between jobs, or the search for your next job is taking longer than you'd like, put your time to good use. Take classes, polish up your portfolio, go to industry events, network - go to the zoo and sketch! Enrich yourself and become better prepared to meet your next professional challenge.

In a previous column, I suggested to anyone who just finished a job to take a brief vacation to get away from your normal stomping grounds. Give yourself two weeks. The place you go doesn't have to be exotic or expensive. You haven't had a vacation for a while and you have earned this. Once you find work again you won't be able to take a vacation for awhile so do this now. The other reason to do this--finding work is hard work and you need to be refreshed to start looking for a job.

Another reason for getting away--it will give you a different perspective. During your vacation, your assignment is to daydream. Make a list of what you liked about your last job and what you didn't like. What do you want on your next job? What kind of company do you want to work for? Take stock of your attributes. What do you like doing at work? What do you like doing outside of work? Make a list of all the skills you've learned and the things you've accomplished. This list will be useful in composing your resume. If you have trouble making your list and thinking positively about yourself, get some friends to help you.

When you get back home, take action. When I was out of work after "Bebe's Kids", I sent out at least 2 resumes a day, every day of the week. It took a while to find work, but taking massive action worked and kept me from dwelling on being out of work. I was too busy to mope around!

If you have always dreamed about developing your own show, building a web site, or writing a children's book "when you have the time"--guess what--you've got the time!

You don't want to do anything other than get another job? OK.

Your skills aren't current? Take classes to acquire those skills. There is a lot of demand currently for traditionally trained animators who also know Flash. Think you are too old to learn anything new? You are only going to get older every day--you may as well do something with those 24 hours.

Whether it's learning a new software, finishing a degree, working on life drawing or learning about design, the classes you take can also help you expand your network. Perhaps someone in the class knows about a job. Even if you don't hear of any jobs, you will be improving your skills.

You don't have to pay a lot for courses. Many adult education programs at local community colleges are offered for small fees. If you are lucky and live in the Los Angeles area, you can take courses from the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union. You don't have to be a member of the union to take the courses and some people travel great distances (one person flew all the way from Montana once a week) to take these.

Polish your sales tools. This is the time to update your resume, your cover letter, your portfolio and your demo reel. Make sure you put your best work up front on your reel and you'll have to alter your demo reel breakdown list accordingly. Remember to include your name and phone number on everything.

Practice life drawing. Visit the zoo, the mall, the playground, sports events. Now that you have the time use it wisely. Get your portfolio up to date.

Network with your friends and former co-workers. Let them know you are looking for work but don't complain if you don't find it right away.

Read the trades including Animation World Network and visit company web sites. If you don't own a computer you may gain access to the web through local libraries and colleges. Libraries also often subscribe to many trade publications. Most jobs aren't advertised but news articles offer clues for work. Look at announcements about new company launches, people changing jobs, or special projects.

Go to meetings hosted by software makers, associations or colleges where animation industry people congregate. I will be moderating a panel at ASIFA's Animation Expo on March 4 on demo reels, portfolios and resumes. You never know what you'll learn or who you'll meet.

If you have a question about a work or career issue that you would like answered in this column, please write us and tell us what you'd like to know.


ASIFA-Hollywood725 S Victory Blvd.Burbank CA 91502 Phone 818-842-8330 FAX 818-842-5645

Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union 4729 Lankershim Blvd.North Hollywood CA 91602-1864 818-766-7151 FAX 818-506-4805

Pamela Thompson is a recruiter and career coach who lives in Sun Valley, California. She is currently recruiting for Big Idea Productions, Stan Lee Media and