This week’s AinA blog is written by television writer, Kelly Galuska. Kelly teaches us how to approach job interviews for the best long-term opportunities.
My job is so weird. I work in an industry where being on “hiatus” could mean having a month off before going back to work, or having a year off before finding the next job. I am a television writer, and that means one simple thing: instability.
Shows these days are cancelled left and right, so jobs tend to have a short shelf life – most I have worked on have lasted only six months or so. As a result, employment can be incredibly unstable. I have to roll with the punches on a daily basis, because tomorrow, the show I’m on could be cancelled, and the job disappears.
Going on interviews starts to feel like dating, when you do it this often. You put your best foot forward, wear your cutest outfit – you know, the one that makes you look effortless, like you just rolled out of bed looking this put together. (I’m not sure I’ve personally ever accomplished this, but it’s fun to pretend.) You have many of the same jokes and segues that you use on everyone, and they work! You’re charming, hilarious, and totally qualified. You’re hire-able!
It becomes very important to be “on” at all times – anyone you meet in the “industry” could be the next person to hire you, so if anyone’s talking about you behind your back, you want it to be all good things.
Recently, I had a meeting with the creator of a show, and the script was amazing – I became obsessed with it. It was so funny, but still had so much heart – I could so write this show. I had to get this job. I felt like I was a perfect fit.
When I had the meeting, it went perfectly. The writer and I had everything in common. We talked books, movies and restaurants. We laughed, we cried. I was a hit!
But unfortunately (yep, here it comes), he could only hire a very small writing staff. And as a “newbie” writer, I had less experience than many of the others I was up against for a spot on his team.
So in the end, I didn’t get it.
And I was bummed.
But – a few days later, he wrote me one of the most amazing emails I’ve ever received in my professional life. He was truly disappointed he wasn’t able to hire me, but wanted to work with me at some point in the future. This wasn’t getting the job I wanted, but it was the promise of something (maybe even better) down the road.
Not only that, but he then took it upon himself to recommend me to another high-level writer I’d never met. A big-time writer. Like, a really cool, writer. (Was I excited? A little.)
Now that’s how I want people to talk about me behind my back.
I didn’t get that job in the moment, but I was still able to show the guy I met with that I was a valuable asset, even if we couldn’t work together right now. He could still be a potential employer, after all – or even a future partner. You never know. It would be easy to dwell on the disappointment of not getting hired. It would be easy for something like this to be considered a failure… But it felt like a huge victory, even if I didn’t walk away a newly-employed woman.
The reason this stuck with me, is that it showed me how every opportunity has other possibilities hidden behind it. Every interview leads to something, whether or not it feels like the thing you’re looking for in the moment. You might not get this job, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to put your best foot forward at all times – people remember you. I swear they do. And they’ll remember that you were generous, and articulate. They’ll remember that you made them laugh, and that you were humble.
So sometimes, even in the working world, it helps to pretend you’re on a first date. Make everyone want to ask you out again. Who knows where each meeting will lead? So I strive to do that with each interview I go on, even if it’s not the job of my dreams, because it could easily turn into one.
But who am I kidding – I can’t look this good every day.