10 Tips for Artists: Get the Job You Want!

By Carolyn Edlund

Are you looking for an internship, or artist residency? Do you want to get  a job with an employer or do some freelance work? Would you like to propose teaching a class? Want to pitch a new idea and create an opportunity for yourself?   Here’s how to create a perfect first impression.

Courtesy Jeanne Bessette

Do some planning before you pursue that opportunity you’ve found.  If you feel you are the person for the job, make sure you communicate that clearly and professionally.  Little things can really matter in how you handle the situation.

It’s well-known that you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression. Often, that first contact is not in person, but by email or snail mail. You may only have a few seconds to get someone’s attention, or be rejected (however unfair that may seem). Be very careful in constructing the initial contact. Here are some ideas to make yourself a prime candidate for that job:

  1. Make sure you are contacting the right person, and have the correct address. Double check the spelling of their name, and their company.
  2. You must send a cover letter if you are submitting a resume. Recruiters stress this all the time. Otherwise, it will most likely end up in the “circular file.”
  3. In that cover letter, you are selling yourself and your skills, but remember that it’s not all about you. It’s about them – so you have to do your research, and construct a thoughtful letter that shows that you know about their organization, what they do, and their goals. You have to write skillfully, and demonstrate how you fit into what they want to accomplish. Use key words that they use on their website or promotional literature.  Highlight strengths that fit in well with their goals, so that choosing you just makes sense. And don’t forget to use spell check!
  4. Use the recipient’s name – of course at the salutation, but use it again at the beginning of a paragraph mid-way down the page. This grabs attention, and also shows that you have constructed a “custom” letter, not a template.  Everyone hates form letters, and they don’t get nearly the response as a well-written customized letter.
  5. Make sure you state what action you want to happen next. If at all possible, you will want to call them to follow up on your letter, rather than waiting for them to contact you. This puts you more in control of the process. State in your letter that you will be in touch in a week, or appropriate time frame.
  6. Looking to get in front of this prospective employer? Once you get the face-to-face meeting you are seeking, make sure you continue to build rapport. A firm handshake and eye contact are essential. Start out by thanking them for their time, and making some casual conversation to break the ice rather than launching into your pitch right away.
  7. Take the opportunity during your interview to again talk about their company, demonstrating that you are well-prepared and understand what makes them tick. Ask questions – you are also interviewing them!
  8. Use the other person’s name in conversation.  This is key to creating rapport.
  9. Be aware of body language. As people converse and relax, their body language becomes more in-synch. You can deliberately reflect the others body language from the start of the conversation, which subsconsciously sends a message that you are compatible. Likewise, if you speak in a tone that is similar to the interviewer, it creates a bond. How loud is their voice? What is the cadence? Do they speak with their hands? These little things can make a difference. Super coach Tony Robbins devotes a considerable time in his training seminars discussing these techniques. You can test them out yourself in a social setting. See what your results are.
  10. Follow up. After every interview, promptly send a message by email (or preferably, a handwritten note by mail, or both) thanking them for their time and interest. Again, set the stage so that you can initiate another contact, because you will want to keep in touch on a regular basis to make sure you are “top of mind” as a potential candidate.

When you land that important opportunity, congratulate yourself! You worked “smart” and effectively to make a perfect first impression!

What other techniques have you used to land that job or opportunity? Please comment and share your secrets!

Thanks to painter Jeanne Bessette for the use of her image. See more of her work at www.jeannebessette.com

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