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There & Back Again: A Job Hunting Tale

They're the words that every employee dreads hearing... "We have to let you go."  Last October, I heard those awful words for the first time in my career.  I was stunned and caught completely off-guard.  I had worked for the company for almost 9 years.  I had great rapport with clients.  I did award-winning work and had all positive employee reviews.  But none of that mattered.  The almighty dollar had spoken - six other employees and I were out of a job.
Shaken but undeterred, I started applying for new jobs.  But complicating my job search was my wife's and my preference not to move.  We liked where we lived - close to friends, family, beautiful scenery and a great church.  Unfortunately, where we lived was not replete with video production jobs.  So when I got an interview for a local video specialist position just three weeks after my layoff, I was stoked!  I had dreams of getting a new salary to add on top of my severance pay.  Maybe we could be better off financially than we were before!  Then reality set in...
After my initial interview, it took over 2 months to hear back about a follow-up interview.  The whole process dragged out over 5 months, and my follow-up emails and phone calls were rarely answered.  I became a finalist, but eventually I was the company's second choice.  By this time, my severance had run out and I found myself filing for state unemployment benefits.  This was a rather humbling experience.  As the months passed, I sent out job application after job application with few results.  I only got 7 interviews for around 60 jobs applied for.  A couple job leads were promising, and I even turned down one offer.  But pressure and depression built as my unemployment benefits ran out.

The longer I went unemployed, the more "friendly suggestions" I received.  Some people recommended I get a temporary job while still looking for something in my desired career path.  Other folks thought I should abandon my career field altogether and take the first good-paying job I could find.  Very few thought persevering was the right idea.  But the thought of just throwing away almost 9 years of blood, sweat and tears didn't sit well with me.  I'd also put up with a lot of stress, frustration, long hours and a lack of resources/equipment.  But all that effort had led to a strong resume and portfolio, plus numerous awards for my work.  I didn't want to end up back at square-one, looking for a new career.  So I held firm under the pressure.

 

I did begin to research the possibility of starting my own freelance video business.  I attended a small business workshop and watched a video seminar.  Both were very insightful and gave me the tools and information to get started on my side business, StrideUp Productions, which I'm slowly building.  But my goal remained to find regular employment within the media/video industry.


Finally, after 11 months of searching, an interview led to a fantastic job offer!  Even though it paid less than my last job and was part-time, it checked a lot of boxes for me.  Professional experience outside of small market TV.  The ability to create a diverse range of video pieces - not just :30 commercials.  And best of all, a fresh start!

 

So, to anyone who's unemployed, have hope!  It's OK to wait a while for that ideal job.  You don't have to jump on the first job offer that comes along.  If I had done that, I'd be regretting it!  And take people's well-intended advice with a grain of salt.  I've learned that unless they've been unemployed, they don't understand what it's like.  Evaluate your financial situation.  Seek wise counsel from a few trusted friends.  And of course, the support of a loving spouse doesn't hurt.  (The support of my wife was invaluable to me during my unemployment!)  Only you can decide if being patient is the right thing.  Just give yourself time to find the right next phase of your career!

Investing in Talent

I recently was brought down for a job interview at the Liberty Flames Sports Network.  During my trip to Lynchburg, VA, I was given a tour of the "Game On" studios.  This is a somewhat fledgling sports program that is carving a path to the top of the faith-based niche market.  I've spent the last 9 years working at small market TV stations, so I wasn't expecting to see anything I hadn't seen before.  But I must admit to being quite in awe of the facilities.  The digital set backdrops, the 20-foot camera jib, the posh Green Room and makeup room, spacious editing suites - everything spoke to an underlying catalyst for success.  Investment.  Investment in people.  Investment in talent.  Investment in the pursuit of excellence.

You see, in my opinion, in order to bring out the best in a team, you have to invest in them.  You have to give them the resources they need - equipment, time, money, training.  When an employer takes care of these things, it frees up its employees to be creative.  Conversely, when an employer constantly asks its people to "do more with less", I believe it breeds resentment and creates an atmosphere of frustration.  Instead of staff being free to excel at their craft, they're always wondering "Do we have what we need to accomplish our goal?"  You scrape by with outdated gear.  You have to beg for professional development workshops.  Productivity is expected to increase while morale continues to decrease with each passing day.  It's not a good business model.

 

As I walked around the LFSN, everything I saw indicated that Liberty University knows how to take care of its people.  Only time will tell if I'm given an offer to join their team as a Video Editor, but if I am, it will be a step in the right direction for my career.

Joining the DSLR Revolution... finally

About 5 years ago, the video industry was transformed by the infusion of DSLR technology into the world of HD video.  This 1-2 combo not only allowed videographers to create industry-best broadcast and web videos, it brought the look and feel of high-end cinema cameras to the average professional.
Ever since this DSLR revolution began, I have been a bystander.  Although, not by choice.  As DSLRs are not common in the TV industry yet, I've never had the ability to work with them... until now!  My Creative Services department recently inherited a Canon T2i, and the resulting video products we've created are a testament to what these cameras are capable of.  The ability to manipulate depth-of-field and lenses that allow you to shoot in low light situations - the resulting media is amazing!
Here's a commercial I produced that illustrates this:
Using the T2i for my job has allowed opportunities for self-training.  And I've also begun pursuing other hands-on training for me and my team at The Charlottesville Newsplex.  I've partnered with Erica Arvold and her talented staff (Arvold.com) to create a 3-part workshop, where her team is providing in-depth training about DSLRs and how to maximize their potential.  We've completed the first of the three sessions, and it has already been immensely insightful!  I'm very happy to have connected with Erica, because I realize she and I share the same goal of elevating the production quality of video at the local commercial level (and beyond), and she has tools and resources to complete that goal that I don't have.

I hope this is but the first of many great steps forward I will take in my career as a producer... mission ongoing - stay tuned!

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