The more I observe what's going on around me, the more I realize that times may not have gotten tougher...maybe the average person has just gotten dumber/entitled-er.
I've worked in the creative field for over a decade and I've seen the reason for the existence of the stereotype of the lazy creative professional. Just to be clear, stereotypes exist for a reason: They are true. For example, if I were to say, "That guy spends money like a professional dog sledder," it would be met with no reaction because dog sledders aren't known to spend irresponsibly. They really aren't known for much of anything except dog sledding and the occasional bootleg porn.
In the case of creative professionals, the word "lazy" gets changed to "free spirited" and all is forgiven. Must be nice to lead an unaccountable life. I'll have to try it sometime when I'm tired of living indoors and not smelling bad. Anyway, this is not about creative professionals — it's about doing oneself a favor.
I recently posted an ad on the magical interweb asking for 3D animation help for $25 an hour. I received dozens of replies, including one gentleman from Canada who wants to transfer USD $50 million to my bank account "if I am so kind to give him simply my bank account and routing number."
Wait. Canada? That doesn't make sense. See above paragraph about stereotypes for clarification.
Just under half of the replies were what I expected - a brief explanation of who they are, why they are qualified, a link to some of their work, and maybe a résumé. Of these, about half of them managed to spell all of their words correctly and make sure their links worked. Those were the front runners. It seems a non-brain conclusion that if you want someone to hire you, you must put your best foot forward. Look at it like a first date, to use an old adage.
So it would appear that a minimal effort was required to make a good impression. Proof read, check your work, etc. The e-mail equivalent to not farting in an interview.
I was not surprised and subsequently disheartened by my lack of surprise to see just how many people didn't seem to have time to respond in any meaningful way. If they aren't interested in the job, fine. An hourly wage of $25 isn't a king's ransom. So don't respond if you don't care. I just don't comprehend the synaptic orgy that it must take to respond with this:
"ima 3D animator with lots of experience. What r u looking for in particular?"
Well, first I'd like someone who writes in whole words. Second, I wrote three frigging paragraphs about what I was looking for.
"Hi, I am writing to repond to you're posting about the job. I was just let go form my current job and would like to find some extra work. I do not have much experience with the softwares you mention but I can learn. Hit me back. Peace."
Tantalizing. You hooked me with the fact that you just got fired, told me you weren't qualified, and topped it off with a sprinkling of bad grammar and a valediction that was both weirdly colloquial and meaningless.
As much as I'd like to blame the education system, parents who don't care, drugs, poverty, or any number of convenient evils, at some point it comes down to YOU - the individual writing the résumé. Do you want to get a job? If so, it is worth your time to craft something that shows others how good you are.
Even if you are new to the job market and have no experience, good communication skills are a fantastic place to start. That and a little humility will get you much further than showing your potential employer just how little you care. For all I know, some of these responses might be from a 14 year old in his parents' basement. To him or her I say good for you - you may have the skills and that is great - you are competing with others and in real life we keep score and there are winners. So compete.
It is amazing that among the cesspool of misspelled garbage there were also folks who had won awards, worked for network television, had more experience than I thought existed, and were frankly worth far more than I could pay, but were willing to do the work. These are the people who have gotten ahead in life. Seeing a pattern? Those who work harder go further.
As the bar has been lowered it would seem that good help is harder to find. However, that can be a good thing if you want to find work. I can't speak for all disciplines, but in the creative field just showing up will put you at the front of the pack. Show some hustle and there's no telling where you can take yourself.
However, the key is not your crappy parents, not the adolescent warehouses we call schools, and not your self-esteem.
The key is you.