Shortage Solutions 2: Coverage Area & Marketability

Read a post from a reporter that listed off all the things she’d read reporters wouldn’t take this week: Med mal, doctor depo, realtime, rough, late job, early job, remote deposition, big-box dep, interpreted dep, video dep. it dawned on me that one obvious albeit unlikely-to-work solution to the shortage is an attitudinal shift in reporting.

Think about it this way: We complain about digital recording making its way into our work, but if the companies can’t cover that work because we won’t take any job below our special standard, then we’re leaving a gap, and markets fill gaps one way or another.

So although this might seem obvious, let’s roll through some things that make people marketable, and understand that doing any of these makes you — and steno — more palatable. No shame in being selective sometimes. Just understand that the more selective we are collectively, the more of an in non stenographers have into what we are all hopefully wanting to be our industry. Again, things that make you and steno marketable.

  1. Taking a wide variety of work. See above.
  2. Being on time to jobs.
  3. Being able to get to jobs without schedulers holding your hand.
  4. Knowing when and how to call an agency. Client forgot an interpreter? How you get on that phone and address the situation is huge.
  5. Organization, ability to manage files, find orders quickly, and do your work. Goes with time management.
  6. Daily, expedite services. Realtime is good, but there are intermediate levels of skill and turnaround that can be just as important and necessary.
  7. Having a wide coverage area and/or a lot of open coverage times.
  8. Sales leaning. Don’t be afraid to ask your agency what other services they offer and mention them on a dep. Not your primary purpose, but communicates to the agency and client that you’re someone with a wider skill set. Don’t be afraid to ask for some compensation for selling the upcharge or service. Don’t be afraid to ask the agency if they give any training or classes in selling upcharges on the job.
  9. Service leaning. Again, controversial, but if the setting is warm, comfortable, and appropriate, it can be okay to bring water to the dep or some little extra snack. Mixed feelings here because we often have to set boundaries and let people know we are not the secretary. We also suffer often from not being considered for lunch breaks and the like in freelance. But consider this: Court officers and interpreters have offered to go get court reporters coffee. They’re not secretaries, it wasn’t their job, but it’s a nice gesture, and sometimes it can be that moment where a lawyer realizes wow, this person is not only a super stenographer, but a really pleasant person to work with. Caution: If a setting is hostile, inappropriate, or uncomfortable for you, you do not have to play the yes woman/man.
  10. Positive attitude. Life isn’t all roses and sunshine, and sometimes there is a time to put your foot down and say no, stop. But anecdotally, we are so used to suppressing our emotions that once we finally speak up on a job, it can actually become a habit. Controlling the room for the sake of the record is good. Controlling the room for the sake of control is damaging to how people view you and what you do. I guarantee that if you are polite to a client, they might just be a little kinder to the next reporter they work with. On the other hand, if you’re rude…

We’ll be talking about some more shortage solutions in the coming days, but take this as the one you have the most innate control over!

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