It’s actually two tweaks rolled into a new habit:
- Ask yourself questions
- Research the answers
If you are not where you want to be in your career, if you are not landing jobs, getting job interviews, auditions, general meetings or even answers to your emails…consider this: It maybe because you are making unforced errors by not asking questions (or better questions) and not researching the answers before you speak, post or hit send.
Because, you know what? The person who is moving forward in their career is taking the time to ask and research.
This has nothing to do with talent or exceptional brain power and everything to do with focusing on things you can control.
People ask me questions all the time, and I almost always answer because being helpful makes me happy.
But it’s a red flag when people ask me questions they could have answered themselves if they were paying attention to details and/or took a minute to look it up.
Why? Because without realizing it they’ve revealed they are intellectually lazy and/or not detail-oriented. I have never seen either of these listed as ideal qualities in a job posting. We always look for ways to stand out. Get noticed for putting in just a little bit of extra effort.
BTW – do not confuse this with work ethic. Here’s an example where you may work harder but not smarter.
Example: Clients and students email me all the time asking for my office address. I don’t want to be snarky so I answer. But here’s the thing: My office address is in my email signature (the one you hit reply to) and on my website. It comes up if you google my name or my business name (Abel Intermedia).
It’s a rule of thumb in the college application process don’t ask questions that are answered on the website.
I recall an interview Jon Hamm did years ago where someone asked a question they could easily look up and he responded, with tongue in cheek, imagine if there was a device you could carry in your hand that could answer all these questions?
I repeat this to my college-age children on the regular.
I receive submissions for television projects and on-camera opportunities (even from publicists!) where it’s abundantly clear they didn’t take the time to google (or yahoo or bing – if that’s still a thing) the project, the network or the production company because they over-looked important details, didn’t follow directions or sent a generic pitch that didn’t stand out (or missed the mark completely).
The busy HR Manager or casting director thinks, thank you, next…
Read, don’t skim.
Make a list of your questions.
Research them yourself (or ask experts) but don’t ask the person you hope will hire you if you can find the answer on the website, in the job listing or through basic research.
If you don’t know what you don’t know – google things like:
- Best practices X
- 5 Things to know about Y
- Latest News Z
A million times yes to this post! Being detail-oriented is a blessing and a curse, but in this case, it’s always been beneficial to me. I research things all the time before asking – media pitches, submissions, etc. I think it speaks to professionalism on so many levels, but most importantly, that it doesn’t waste someone else’s time.
As a show producer, it drives me nuts when someone doesn’t research info that is readily available on my site, but I, like you, respond.