Shaun Cassidy advises writers on how to plan for their next job.
It’s never too early to look for that next gig. Shaun Cassidy (New Amsterdam) discusses best practices for building relationships and cultivating job opportunities.
Question: If I know my show will end soon, when should I start applying for a new job? While I'm currently employed or after the show ends?
Shaun Cassidy: A smart writer is always thinking about the next job. Writing is a freelance profession, and while many of us would do it for free, we all need to make a living, so looking ahead is an important part of the game. For me, this means constantly coming up with new ideas. Even as I’m working on a current television show, I’ll be brainstorming or researching my next one. I’ve never found multitasking to be a detriment to my work. If anything, I’m more productive when I can bounce back and forth between projects. Fresh eyes, right?
But if you’re a writer who's not creating your own shows yet, you can still be cultivating your next opportunity. The old adage that it's easier to get a job when you have one is true, so don't wait for your show to be cancelled before taking your next meeting. Meet everyone you can, when you can, and if you have representatives, insist that they constantly be surveying the employment landscape for you.
In my experience, the best way to get a new job is to be great at the one you have. Most opportunities are born out of previous relationships—a coworker recommends you for another series, or the showrunner wants to hire you for their next one. Everyone you meet in the room is a potential future employer, so maintaining solid relationships with your fellow writers and producers is vitally important. Lastly (and I'd like to believe this should go without saying), be kind. Look out for the people around you. Focusing on the needs of others before your own really does benefit you in the long run. Over the years, I've hired as many writers for their humanity as for their talent.
The bottom line is, whatever you’re doing to find your next job—creating your own projects, deepening your connections with other writers and producers, or meeting with potential employers at studios and networks—this should be an ongoing process. Keep the train moving, even when it feels like you shouldn't have to, play well with others, and I believe you will have a long, productive ride.
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