It’s the start of a New Year, and for many people this is a great time for new beginnings, a fresh start, or a new plan. It’s also a time for completions – wrap up old projects and examine where you are – and then use this new energy to implement changes.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean tenure at different occupations has remained fairly steady over the last 10 years, averaging out at slightly less than 5 years, across all industries, although people in the public sector tend to stay in one job longer. For people working in Motion Pictures the mean is only 2.9 years, while workers in Radio, TV and Cable Broadcasting stay in their jobs around 5.0 years. I would posit that this reflects the high number of freelancers working on individual film projects of relatively short duration, while people in TV hope to get on to a longer running series. In the business, we change employers a lot, while keeping the same job title for a long time.
The main point is something that you already know – working in Entertainment tends to mean that you are almost always job hunting or looking for the next gig or company. Never stop networking.
What if you want to change your career – that is to say move from one part of the industry to another, or change your actual job title or department?
It might be that you have found yourself in a creative or financial rut, or that your recent jobs have taken you in an unintended direction and you feel off track. Maybe a new part of the industry came to your attention through a project or new friend, or even from attending an industry event or expo. Maybe someone told you that you have a facility for something, that you hadn’t considered. I never knew I was good at writing resumes until I started doing it.
Maybe you are finally ready to take the plunge and upgrade to a better or more creatively challenging position. Please read my blog post about moving to directing from another department.
The truth is that you will need to rethink your networking, find events to attend relevant to the new area, and rewrite your elevator pitch to include your new desired job. People working in one area of the business network together, and this might be an entirely different crowd from your old gig.
Your resume, especially the Summary section, should include language that reflects the transferable skills that would take you into a different area or department. Look carefully at your Selected Credits and highlight the ones that more easily place you at least adjacent to where you want to go.
Consider the different professional associations and groups that align with your new desired job. You might want to change your memberships. Join relevant groups on social media too, and find a good place to dwell.
How are your actual qualifications? Do you need to upgrade your computer or technical skills? There are professional development courses in all kinds of places, and the unions or professional associations are often a great place to start.
If you can’t make an immediate change, can you ask for additional responsibilities or generate some side projects at your current gig? Can you express a desire to expand your horizons there, and take advantage of any professional development programs on offer, if for no other reason than to have more appropriate duties for your resume.
But most of all, get very clear on why you want to change and what your new goals are. Your overarching dreams may not have changed, but you are forging a different path to those same destinations. You have got to be able to answer if (when) someone asks you why your old position or career path has become unsatisfactory. The best answer will always build on your gratitude for where you have come from, and your enthusiasm for the new opportunities.
Lastly, tell everyone. Tell your family, friends and colleagues (as long as it doesn’t actually jeopardize your current job before you are ready) about your new hopes and intentions. Making it public creates accountability – and engages everyone along with the Universe itself in bringing your new career into fruition.