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February 2, 2011
Stop the Exposition. Do Something.
 
The good guy is tied to a chair. The evil villain, now fully in control of the situation, slows down, waves his gun in the air, and explains his entire plan to his do-gooding nemesis. In “The Incredibles,” they call this "monologuing."
 
In screenwriting, this is often called "exposition," where the screenwriter explains what's happening to the audience. And exposition, the writing gurus tell me, is the sign of a bad—or inexperienced—or both—writer. It is much, much more dramatic to see the movie's story unfold through visual or emotional cues than to have it explained to you like a child. (It's why so many summer blockbusters are so bad: they go exposition, explosion, exposition, explosion, and so forth.)
 
Everyone has grand dreams. Exciting plans. A new "can't miss" invention. And yes, a never-before-heard-of screenplay. They explain their idea to friends, family, and anyone who will listen. They talk about it endlessly. They pontificate on its merits, its "forward-thinking-ness." But most often, they don't DO anything. They're just talk.
 
With so many people on the job hunt these days, I'm disappointed when I hear a lot of talk about a potential lead, or a perfect opportunity around the corner. I'm sad because it tells me the person is merely hoping these things come to pass, instead of taking advantage of the many tools available to them to create a brand for themselves online. You don't have to be a designer to start a blog, nor a wordsmith to open a Twitter account. But I guarantee that committing action to those tasks, regularly over time, will grow your "hire-ability" much more than blindly spamming people with your resume.
 
In my own case, I've been lucky enough to create online videos that led to network TV meetings, and humor blogs that led to corporate clients. As a creative professional, I realize that creating "art" online is a natural fit, whereas it likely proves difficult in other professions. But that’s no excuse when considering the opportunity presented by today’s web tools.
 
You have an opportunity to develop your personal brand through original content. To prove how knowledgeable and thorough you are. To show discipline and commitment, even in the face of adversity (like joblessness).
 
Do something. Make something. Write something. Post it. Don't just talk about it, and hope that employers are impressed with the talk. They're not. They want doers.

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Alec McNayr and Alan Beard are principals of the social media agency McBeard Media, and have led digital content campaigns for clients like 20th Century Fox and Nokia. They are authors of the Random House best seller Historical Tweets: The Completely Unabridged and Ridiculously Brief History of the World. They live in the Los Angeles area.
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