"People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. In my case I did something which these days would be easy to check, and would get me into trouble, and when I started out, in those pre-internet days, seemed like a sensible career strategy: when I was asked by editors who I'd worked for, I lied. I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely, and I sounded confident, and I got jobs. I then made it a point of honour to have written something for each of the magazines I'd listed to get that first job, so that I hadn't actually lied, I'd just been chronologically challenged... You get work however you get work.
"People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today's world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time.
"And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine.
"People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time.
"They'll forgive the lateness of the work if it's good, and if they like you.
"And you don't have to be as good as the others if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."
Read the entire transcript at http://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address-2012