On Tuesday of this week my blog post talked about advice that sticks with us over the years. That evening, two women were guest speakers in my internship class, and each one shared one piece of “valuable advice” with my students (which was pretty interesting since I hadn’t mentioned my blog to them). As I said in the previous post, I plan to share more “valuable advice” as I remember it or, as in this case, I learn about it from others.
The first piece of advice was given to my students by Hao Ming Nguyen. She said, “Never take less money or a lesser title” when you change jobs. Her point was that accepting a lower salary or a lesser job title devalues your work and your experience and will make the new employer think less of you for moving down a step on the ladder of your career. I think this is good advice, but I think that there are times when you can make an exception. For example, once upon a time I was the Promotion Manager at a television station in Albany, NY, which was then the 49th largest market in the U.S. My next job was as the Assistant Promotion Manager at a television station in Sacramento, CA, at that time the 19th largest market in the U.S. Even though I took a lesser title, I was moving up in terms of the size of the market I was working in, so that was seen as a step up in my career. And I did get a higher salary at the new job, which is another indication of professional progress. Faced with a similar situation, you would benefit from paying attention to my book’s Tip 9: Consider the cost of living in any potential geographical areas. A salary that is considered out of the context of the cost of living does not necessarily indicate progress. $50,000 may be a great starting salary in Raleigh, NC, but it will barely cover food and shelter in New York City.
The second piece of advice came from Michelle Tackabery’s experience. Michelle is a writer—a technical writer, a nonfiction writer, a marketing writer, a poet, and probably a few other types of writer as well. She said, “Keep your first draft, but never publish it.” This is excellent advice for anyone who writes for a living. That first draft has a freshness and a passion to it that may be difficult to recapture, but it will always need revision. I don’t believe that anyone writes a good final product as their first draft. This holds true for cover letters and resumes as much as it does for writing that is done for pay (or pleasure, if truth be told). If you have time to let that first draft sit for a day or two, great. If not, you can let it sit for an hour or, better yet, ask someone else to review it for you and make suggestions for revision. Often those suggestions will lead you to think of additional improvements.