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Art and sales: 2 ways to approach competitive jobs

Veronica C. | March 25, 2014

Art and sales: 2 approaches to competitive jobs

It’s a fact of life: Some dream jobs are more difficult to pursue than others. The U.S. Department of Labor has put together a database called the Occupational Information Network, which lists the competitiveness of various jobs across the country. Some valuable information can be gleaned about certain job hubs even through a quick perusal of the top 10 list.

The industries that top the charts are none too surprising: They are highly visible in the public eye, pay exceptionally well or have highly desired titles, but they also have few positions to offer, according to Business Insider. There are two industries in particular that seem to dominate: arts and sales. Four jobs are related to the arts. There are poets, lyricists and creative writers; music composers and arrangers; choreographers; and make-up artists. Managers of artists, performers and athletes are the bridge between that industry and the other chart-topper: sales. Securities and commodities sales agents and real estate agents are among the most competitive positions related to that field.

Sales and arts seem to stand on opposite ends of a spectrum, but their competitiveness means they have at least one thing in common. Another may be the ways in which people can pursue careers in either field. Nabbing a creative job may not just entail a starving artist mentality, and making it in sales is certainly not just about attending a good business school. By looking at a position from the opposing field – real estate agents and writers – you can learn lessons about getting a foot in the door that applies to either industry.

The real estate paradigm
Many of the sales on the competitiveness list are labeled as having a bright outlook, meaning that the industry is growing and there will likely be new positions opening in the field in the foreseeable future. Among those occupations that have a favorable outlook is real estate.

While the housing bubble took a huge hit at the industry, interest in real estate sales has only seemed to grow in the past few years. According to The New York Times, that’s in large part due to the high visibility of multi-million dollar sales and real estate reality television shows.

One of the more popular ways to break into the business, like many sales jobs, is through internships. And like most internship horror stories, many of  these positions go unpaid. This means that only those who can afford to go without pay for some period of time can get work. However, in the real estate business, the circumstances are somewhat special. In terms of pay, starting out as a professional real estate agent is already somewhat like being an intern.

The real estate job lesson
If you are interested in real estate, experts in the field recommended in the Chicago Tribune that you try to make connections in the neighborhood where you want to work. That includes getting to know the neighbors as well as real estate agents and local investors who may give helpful advice. Like so many other businesses, who you know can be as important as what you know.
Just as important for job hunting is a rule that comes straight from the world of real estate: location, location, location. Business Insider recently mapped and charted the competitiveness of certain industries by region. If you want to get into real estate or any kind of sales, cities like New York and Miami are probably the last place you want to be. San Francisco and Houston on the other hand, have compelling job markets.

The lesson for artists is the value of networking and location. Like any other job, some cities are more supportive of a certain industry. And while New York City may be great for artists, the competition may be stiff depending on your field of interest. M.F.A.s for writers and visual artists are basically built-in networks that can help artists and writers land shows and magazine spots.

A portrait of a sales agent as a writer
Opposite of sales is the competitive market of the artist. Some of the most competitive jobs in that field are novelist, screenwriter and lyricist. You don’t have to look too hard to find the checkered work history of some of the most famous authors, which often seem to involve low-level sales, contracting and general bumming about before getting their big break. Two common career routes writers take are working a job that relates to their craft or else working an unrelated job that allows them to write in their free time.

Unlike choreography, writers have a number of career options that relate to their field of interest. Copy writing focuses more on generating advertising materials, from ad campaigns to press releases. Technical writing is geared more toward writing business proposals, special documentation and equipment manuals.

These kinds of jobs grant writers the opportunity to work with words every day. However, if it’s not developing the skills that writers want, they can often become burnt out. That’s especially true I they have to work an internship. The alternative is much more in line with people’s dramatized perception of the artist: pursuing your passion in your free time while working a much less competitive job. This approach may have some value for real estate agents and other sales people looking to get licensed or receive some form of training or education. While it takes time and energy, you are at least making a little money to support the pursuit of your dream job.

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