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Friday, October 28, 2016

Putting Placeholders in your Life

There are times when you need to put a placeholder or two in your career. What I mean by that is when you're experiencing dry periods, it's time to take a job or two that may not be technical writing. Now I'm talking to those who are freelancers, independent contractors, or in between jobs. 

If you don't fall under these categories, that's okay. Feel free to follow along or just skip this post. If you do fall under these categories, it's a choice that you may need to make. It doesn't mean your career is over. It just means it's a stop-gap from going hungry.  Now here are some things that might help.

Don't be too proud

First off, don't be too proud to take any job. If months have gone by and you're not getting a bite, it's time you need to take a job to have food and shelter. If you think you're above it all, you won't get a job with that attitude. Be confident in your abilities but don't be arrogant. Attitude is a key factor in getting a job. 

Interviews may be determined on the tone of your voice and how you present yourself. Who wants to hire a pompous jerk? Sorry for being strong here. But seriously, who wants that except for other pompous jerks. However, I think pompous jerks can't even stand each other, so no luck there. 

If you think you're too good for a lowly service job, then you should stop reading and write me off as a hack. I can tell you this: arrogance doesn't help a writer grow. Having a humble and teachable heart does. 

But if you have a humble yet professional mindset, it will go a long way in landing a job.
Find a job that can use your abilities

If you need to find a job, then it would make life easier and more enjoyable if you find a job that uses some of your abilities. Brainstorm and come up with a list of jobs you would like to apply to. I'll give you a couple of examples.

Content writing is something you can easily take on since it's writing. If it wouldn't be hard leap to take, especially if you're writing technical content. The only problem with content writing, based on my experience, is that a lot of it is low pay, because there's a lot of content mills out there. 

I don't take a hard stand against content mills, because I write for them on occasion. A little money is better than no money. The issue I have with content mills is the amount of time you need to spend belting out an article or short for low pay. If you can find higher paying content writing gigs, go for it. If you do decide to go with content mills, than trying finding articles that won't take much effort or time to do. Remember your time and efforts are more important than money.

Another example is merchandising. Merchandising is similar to technical writing. They both are aiming to target a customer or an audience. They both have a process in organizing materials to create something orderly and easy-to-use. Merchandising uses an planogram to organize products or build a Point of Purchase (POP). Technical writing typically uses an outline to create documents. They both are detailed-orientated. They are both aim to foster relationships with the customers. They both use writing in some capacity. The big difference is that merchandising uses writing to create notes for internal use. Technical writing uses writing to create documents for external and internal use. 

The point is to search for a job were your skills are transferable. Not to mention, brainstorming of ideas helps you as a writer.

Don't take it personally, just be grateful

If you haven't gotten a technical writing gig in a while, don't take it personal. It's hard not to because it feels like nobody wants to hire you.  But there are other factors that we can't see like maybe companies are having budget problems or maybe they are unrealistically picky.

If you have a placeholder of a job, then don't think it's all you can get. This is just a season in your life. Just be grateful what you have. It's better than having nothing at all.

Work on honing your craft

Write. Write. Write. Writing anything during this time. This could anything from working on your cover letter or resume to starting a blog or a newsletter. Write a diary or a book if you want to.  In any case, your efforts aren't in vain. Your efforts are building up your craft, especially in the area of engaging your audience. The more you write, the more you hone your abilities as a writer.

New opportunities

Finally, take this dry period as a way to explore new opportunities. Maybe you can unlock your inner blogger or novelists during while you're working at the placeholder of a job. Or if you enjoy the placeholder job, then find writing positions in that field.

The point is to not see dry periods as just dry periods but opportunities to explore new avenues. 

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