How to transition out of entertainment
The entertainment industry can be a wonderful field to work in, but it has also changed a lot over the years. We’ve seen more and more folks looking for ways to break out the way they once strove to break in. There are so many layoffs, stagnant wages, and unpredictable freelance roles – not to mention that people change, and the person who moved to LA right after college to “make it” as a producer may no longer be the person staring at you in the mirror 10, 20, or 30 years later. If you’ve been considering leaving the industry, here are a few steps you can take:
Identify what you want to do next. It’s easy to say “I’m done with this Hollywood bullshit,” but if you don’t know what you want to do instead, you’ll have a hard road ahead in your transition. Consider whether you want to do the same type of work but in a different field (for example, producing videos for a brand’s social media pages or handling A/V for corporate events) or if you want to change roles completely (for example, becoming a realtor or a supply chain operations manager). Take time to learn about other career paths. Ask friends outside the industry about their jobs. Cull through some “Top Places to Work” lists. Do some career assessments, either self-guided online, with a book, or with a career coach. Think about which tasks you enjoy doing at work and which you're great at, as well as what working environment, salary, and work/life balance helps you thrive, and match potential careers against those criteria. Make sure to find out what steps you’ll need to take to break into the new field – this could mean getting a degree or certificate, starting at the bottom of the new ladder, and/or making connections in the new field who can recommend you for lateral moves. This will take time, but it will be far more productive than simply applying to any random job in your area that’s posted on LinkedIn.
Rewrite your resume and LinkedIn profile. Once you know what roles you’re targeting, you’ll need to overhaul your application materials to match the new field. Through the aforementioned research, you’ll have discovered the skills your new path requires and identified the transferable skills you have that align with those jobs. Focus your resume and LinkedIn profile on highlighting those achievements and avoid getting too in the weeds about your work in entertainment. The hiring team for an open insurance sales role isn’t going to care about your ability to write script coverage or create string-outs (or even know what those terms mean), but they may be impressed by your ability to conduct cold outreach to potential talent and create pitch decks.
Meet people. A major career transition calls for informational interviews! Just as you likely did when you first pursued a career in entertainment, you’ll need to meet anyone you can who works in your new field. Tell everyone you know about your job search goals and ask if they can introduce you to anyone they know who could help. Even better if you can identify target companies you’d love to work for and leverage your existing network to find contacts there (though this will be easier or harder depending on your chosen field). Use LinkedIn to identify potential connections and follow thought leaders from that industry. Attend networking events and conferences. All the things you did back in the day to make it in Hollywood will work for your new industry, too.
Finally, remember to be patient and persistent. It’s hard to break into a new field, and it will likely take a lot of time. Like entertainment, plenty of fields are competitive, and while some are seeing a huge hiring expansion, many others are going through similar layoffs and hiring freezes. If you’re strapped for cash, you may need to continue working in the entertainment industry or pick up gig work to make ends meet while you pursue a longer-term career. There’s no shame in that! It doesn’t mean you’re doomed to stay trapped in this industry. Keep at your research, keep meeting people, and keep applying. You’ll get there, just as you got here.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Your LinkedIn headline is a really important part of your profile. It's the label that will show up in search results and encourage others to click to see more. Don't skip over this step by assuming you should just use your job title. Rather, you should customize your header based on what you're using the platform for – establishing credibility as a leader in your field, looking for a new job, generating business leads, etc. Here are some tips for writing a strong headline.
First, consider how you want to brand yourself. What’s the most concise way to describe yourself that will help you achieve your goals on LinkedIn? If you're using LinkedIn to generate leads for your current company, it may make sense to lean into your title, and if your company is well-known, including its name can help, especially with search results. If you work in multiple areas, you can use your headline to indicate the different aspects of your professional persona and showcase why your interests complement one another (think: Writer-Producer and Board Member of Non-Profit X / Passionate about Impact Storytelling). If you're openly searching for a job, you can use your headline to indicate the kinds of opportunities you're seeking and use keywords to show why you'd be right for those types of roles (for example: Marketing Producer & Social Media Expert Seeking New Opportunities).
Then, consider what you want to show up in search results. What will the people you want to see your profile be searching for? Who among your peers do you want to show up alongside? Include specific keywords that are going to help the right people find you in a search. Avoid making your headline too long, but make sure the important info is there.
As always, you want your headline to feel authentic to your voice, so do what feels right for you. Look at the headlines of others in your field to get some ideas. What headlines are appealing to you, and what headlines turn you off? That should be the biggest indicator of the right direction for you. After all, this is your profile, and you're in control.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
One trend we've seen with job applicants over the years is a lack of confidence stemming from the feeling that prospective employers won't be interested in hiring them for various reasons -- they don't have enough specific expertise, they have spent too many years working on the wrong types of content for their desired job, or some other form of imposter syndrome. If you've felt this way, you're not alone! It's very easy to get stuck listening to your inner critic, and this is especially true when you're dissatisfied with your career because you're unemployed, underemployed, or simply bored.
One way to combat this feeling is to take a step back to look at your career holistically. When you're bogged down by your day to day tasks, they may seem mundane or unimpressive. If you've left a job on bad terms, it's natural to get wrapped up in what went wrong rather than thinking about the good things you've done in your career. But when you consider your experience as a whole, you'll see that you’ve accomplished a lot more than you realized!
A good place to start is to come up with a list of achievements. Think back to some of the most significant projects you have completed or challenges you've overcome in your career. What are you most proud of? Why? Consider how these projects made a big difference to your employer. And then think about what skills you used to achieve them. These are your main strengths, and they are value-adds you can use when speaking about yourself to a prospective employer.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with a list of one-off projects, another way to think about your achievements is in terms of volume of work. If you’re doing a task that feels repetitive -- for example, giving notes on every script draft of every episode of a TV series -- you’re actually building up an area of expertise with a very measurable result. In this instance, you may step back and notice that you have helped shape over 100 episodes of TV. And in doing so, you have probably learned a lot! At the very least, you’ll certainly know more about that genre of TV than someone who hasn’t had your job. Ask yourself: What are you taking for granted? What have you learned by doing the tasks that are now second nature to you? How do your experiences complement one another?
Most importantly, there’s value in your unique perspective. No one else has had the same career trajectory and life experience as you. And as employers look to hire a diverse roster of employees, this is more important than ever. What are you an expert in that others might not be? What specialized skills do you bring to the table? What relationships have you developed in your professional and personal life that will benefit you and your future team? What life experiences have shaped the way you approach work? Keep in mind that the things that differentiate you from your “typical” candidate are value adds, and you should be proud of them!
We understand it can be hard to break out of the “I’m not good enough” mindset. But it's so important, both for your own peace of mind and for your job search. Once you can get past the negative thinking, you'll be able to prepare a stronger resume, articulate your perspective better in an interview, and impress connections to generate referrals for open roles. We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on everything you’ve done and try to consider your career from an outsider’s perspective. We think you'll be impressed with yourself after you do!
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan
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