…And a Better New Year

Ah, the holidays! ‘Tis time for packing shopping malls, overindulging on $5 truffles delivered to the office, and, of course, being thankful for all we have been given in the past year. For many of us, that list of things for which to be thankful includes the fact that we have jobs.

In uncertain times, employment is not a certainty. However, as I’ve learned from experience, some attitudes and actions can help secure your place in your office, cube, or telecommuting perch at home. So for this end-of-the-year column, I bring all you content-writing wizards a few learned-the-hard-way tips for blissful employment in the year to come:

Be realistic. The Internet isn’t going to save the world, and neither are you — even with the best content. The most successful companies use the Internet to their advantage to streamline operations, cut costs, reach customers, and communicate more efficiently will their partners. Your content will be used for one of the above, not ending world hunger.

Be innovative. Dot-coms busted when everyone and her aunt caught the me-too bug. Even the supposed outside-the-box stuff started smelling as musty as Aunt Edna’s hatbox. True innovation and true creativity take you to places you’ve never been before. And after all, isn’t that what IT is all about? Think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak tinkering in the garage.

Be positive. If you’re wringing your hands about potential job cuts, you can’t produce lovely copy on the keyboard. Granted, you may just be a number in someone’s roster of “nonessential” employees, but a can-do attitude sometimes prevents the ax from falling.

Grow beyond the cubicle. If you’re a content writer, that’s great. But if you’re a content writer who also does graphics, that’s even better. If you’re a content/graphics person who writes strategic marketing, you’re what employers call “a find.” And if you’re a content/graphics/strategic marketer who can manage people, you are truly sitting pretty. Get the picture? Don’t box yourself in to one particular task.

Write, write, and write some more. If you love to write, do it! Volunteer to write a column (ah-hem) or try your hand at speechwriting. Better yet, polish up that novel you started to write in college (but expunge the existential scene of the turtle floating on a barge and all other prose written during the post-finals, incoherent state). Keeping creative juices fresh after-hours will help you tackle the not-so-creative, yet-vital-for-employment writing tasks during the day. Trust me, it will make penning that policy and procedure manual much more tolerable.

Teach. My first marketing communications class was a bomb with a capital “B.” After a while, I got comfortable with the challenge of keeping a class interested, awake, and learning something. These days, I find teaching keeps me updated on the latest innovations and experts in my field. I also learn a lot from my students and have made many important contacts since I started teaching at the university level.

If you should find yourself pounding the pavement anytime soon, know that you are not alone. While I write that to be of comfort, it’s also a warning. In other words, there are lots of people vying for employment now. Here’s how to stand out from the crowd:

  • Network. Yes, everyone tells you to network yourself into a frenzy. It’s good advice. Some employers aren’t spending the bucks to advertise their open positions now. It pays to keep your ear to the ground for leads.
  • Get some really nice presentation pieces together. Don’t wait for a potential employer to ask what you can do. Put together a small — and I emphasize small — packet a potential employer can thumb through in a few minutes. Provide links to sites you’ve created.
  • Be persistent. It’s easier for a potential employer to say no than to take the time to interview you, consider your candidacy, and — in these tough times — get money to hire you. Jobs come to the those who are “tactfully” persistent. Show that enthusiasm, demonstrate you want the position, and prove what you can do by providing writing samples, links to sites you’ve created, and so on. It’s a tough market out there, and the jobs don’t generally go to the shy folks.

Be of good cheer. This may not have been the best of years, but there are 365 days of possibilities ahead. Here’s to an upturn in the economy, employment for every talented soul out there, and, most important, peace. Happy hols.

Content Development will return on Tuesday, January 8th. Happy holidays from ClickZ!

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