By Kirsty Gillmore
Whether you’re at the start of your career, changing direction or experiencing a bit of a quiet patch – you can feel that you owe it to yourself, and your bank balance, to apply for every job and opportunity going.
Take it from me: those jobs you don’t want to do, you don’t have to do them. Jobs that won’t further your career, that offer a low fee, those jobs about which you start getting a sinking feeling just from initial emails – these are the jobs you don’t have to take.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that no one’s career is built entirely off the back of one job. Yes, there are jobs that open doors to fruitful relationships with artists, and we’ve all heard peers and mentors talk about their “big break”. Trust me when I say that your big break will not come from jobs you feel uncomfortable doing from the start. Scared, possibly (see my previous post about Doing the Hard Jobs for why you should take a challenging assignment). Uncomfortable, no. We’re never the best version of ourselves when we start a job not really wanting to be there.
I should take it because it will be good for my career.
If this was a job that really would fulfill a career goal, shouldn’t you be more enthused about taking it? A job that looks perfect on paper that still has you hesitating over the GO button must have an aspect that doesn’t sit well with you. Maybe you have doubts about the people you’ll be working with; maybe you’ve had a bad experience with the venue/company/artist in the past. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t ignore it because if you take the job, you’ll have to live with it. My dream sound jobs don’t involve me feeling weird about any part of them, and I bet yours don’t either.
So is it still a job you honestly believe would be good for your career, or is it a job that someone else has said you “should do”? Your career is no one’s business but yours, and there is no one way to have a successful career in any field of sound.
I should take it because I need the money
Unless you’ve had a blessed life, we’ve all been in the position of having bills to pay and being desperate for any job, no matter how crappy it may look. If it’s a short-term gig and you know you can suck up any problems for the duration, as long as you get paid, then maybe that’s the right choice for you right now. If it’s a longer-term gig, think carefully. Is the money good enough to negate all the potential issues that are making you hesitate about taking the job in the first place? Is it good enough to make up for having to miss any other potential opportunities for jobs that might be a better fit?
I should take it because I don’t have any other work
Quiet patches can be difficult to ride out, especially when social media makes it so easy to track the progress of your peers’ careers. First, don’t compare yourself to people on social media (which you know already). Second, accepting work when you don’t want to do it because you feel you should be working, is flawed logic. If you don’t desperately need the money and you are uncertain about the job, why do you want to take it?
Use downtime to boost your career in other ways. Master a new piece of kit, take a workshop or attend a seminar, go out and experience a gig or show from the audience side for a change, polish your CV. Spend the time making connections to get the work that you want to do. Or, take a break! Rest, refresh and be in better shape for the next job that you do want to do.
Final thought: keep an open mind. If a job feels like a good fit except for one detail, see if you can negotiate that detail. In my experience, if someone wants you for a job, negotiation is always possible. If it isn’t, then you are right to say “no”.
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