You flick on the TV. As you settle in to watch your favorite show, a little voice nags in the back of your mind... “Shouldn’t I be productive? Shouldn’t I revamp my resume so I can apply for a new job?”
Sure, if you watch TV or movies 100% of the time, you won’t get too far in your career. But, considering that you’ve opted for a career in entertainment, watching content is a part of the job. And not just any content -- your favorite shows can help you during your job search.
Well, if you’re up to date on your favorite shows, you’ll be ready to talk about them in an interview. During an entertainment industry interview, you will almost always get asked to name your favorite shows and movies and what you're watching now. And there's nothing worse you can do than answer that question with, “I don’t really watch many TV shows or movies.” A close second is naming a show and not being up to date on it. Imagine you tell your interviewer that your favorite show is Grey’s Anatomy, and it turns out she's also a fan. If you’ve answered this question honestly, this is the perfect situation -- you can geek out about the latest goings-on of Grey-Sloan and turn the interview into a casual conversation, a great way to make interviewer like you. But if you've missed the last three seasons and can't contribute to the discussion, you’ll have lost the interviewer’s trust. You'll never have this problem if you watch tons of TV -- if you spend enough time watching content, you'll likely have multiple favorite shows to pull from that you could speak about intelligently in an interview.
And yes, binge watching your favorite shows can serve as great interview preparation, but this practice is useful on a broader level as well. When you have a good sense of the content landscape, you'll have a clearer picture of the kinds of content you like, and this can help you narrow your job search. When you watch your favorite shows, take note of who produced them and add those companies to the list of employers you’re interested in working for. Many Hollywood hopefuls move to LA and cast a wide net -- they're trying to get a job at any company in the industry, regardless of what content the company produces. In our opinion, that should be a last resort strategy. Your initial focus should be on finding a job that will help you grow into the the kind of role you always dreamed about. A narrower job search will allow you to focus on cultivating a targeted network, plus you’ll find it easier to write cover letters and connect with interviewers who share your enthusiasm. And once you get the job, you’re a lot more likely to enjoy your role. If you never watch sci-fi movies, why would you want to spend 60 hours a week reading sci-fi scripts as a development assistant? You have to consider what will really make you excited about going to work every day, and watching TV and movies regularly can help you find that passion.
Isn’t it great when something most people think of as an indulgence can actually boost your career? Next time you get sucked into a Netflix binge, settle in and enjoy it guilt-free -- after all, it’s getting you one step closer to your dream job.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Many people believe that a traditional handwritten thank you note is the best way to follow up after an interview or informational meeting. By sending one, they believe they are adding a nice touch that will help them stand out in the crowd. And sometimes this really works -- there are a few people that appreciate the extra effort that goes into sending a handwritten thank you note. However, most people don’t care either way. Sending a handwritten thank you note will never hurt you . . . unless you send it in place of a thankyou email. Regardless of whether or not you’re into the whole handwritten note business,you should ALWAYS send a thank you note via email within 24 hours. Why?
1. Email is faster than snail mail. Unless you’re planning on driving back the next day, your letter isn’t going to get to the recipient fast enough to boost your chances of getting hired. And while some potential employers are impressed by the person who drives back the next day, some find it creepy and intrusive. Remember -- you're trying to impress the receptionist, not make her feel put-upon.
2. Thank you emails allow for supplementary materials and information. In your thankyou email, you should always offer to provide references or any other material that could help with the hiring process. And, if that’s something the hiring manager wants, he can simply respond affirmatively on the thread, instead of having to go out of his way to reach out to you to request it. And this is a two-way street -- if you have additional questions or want to check in about the hiring timeline at any point, an email will help facilitate that a lot more efficiently than a handwritten note.
3. Thank you emails make follow ups easier. Emails create a thread that will help the hiring manager (or person you've met for an informational interview) remember you down the line. Hopefully you’ve mentioned something specific and personal in your note, and the chain will jog the reader’s memory of you when it’s time for him to make a decision. It will also remind him of what has been previously discussed, so he can give youaccurate information moving forward.
As you can see, emailed thank you notes are a crucial part of the job application process. If handwritten thank you notes are your thing, that’s fine, just make sure you send them in conjunction with a thank you email.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
When reaching out to contacts for potential informational interviews, you should do everything in your power to set a face-to-face meeting instead of a phone call. An informational interview with the right person can be one of the biggest boosts to your job search, but only if you can make a good impression. And that’s hard to do on a phone call. Think about it: Would you hire someone based off of a phone interview? Probably not. Your goal for an informational interview is to lock down a contact that could potentially put you up for jobs at some point, but it’s unlikely that anyone is going to go to bat for a person they’ve never even seen. Especially when dealing with higher level executives, you need to keep in mind that they’re on the phone with various people all day long, and without being able to put a face to a name, they’re not going to remember you for more than a day or two. Unless you’re speaking with someone in a different state, find a way to get that in-person meeting.
But aren't you supposed to let your contact dictate the terms of the meeting so they aren't inconvenienced — and isn’t it an inconvenience to ask for a face-to-face meeting? The answer is no. When requesting an informational interview, simply ask for a meeting and let the other person select the location and time. Don’t suggest a call as an option. If that’s what they end up coming back with, tough luck, but more likely, they’ll find a window to fit you in at some point, even if it's several weeks out. Expect that you’ll probably be rescheduled a few times, and that’s perfectly fine. Take what you can get — even a 15 minute face-to-face meeting is better than a phone call when trying to make a lasting impression.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Unemployment. Slower career progression than anticipated. Having an abusive boss or toxic work environment. These career woes can be terrifying. We put so much emphasis on career as a measure of self-worth that dissatisfaction about employment status can have an affect on all areas of our lives. Even worse, these feelings of despondency can make it harder to get motivated to apply for jobs and could impact the way you're perceived in an interview. Employers want to hire excited candidates, not depressed ones. So how do you break this cycle?
Take a deep breath. By refocusing your fear into productivity, you’ll find a new job in no time. Here's how we recommend tackling three of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the job search:
1. You don’t know what you want to do. Whether you’re newly unemployed or just sick of your current job, you may be wondering what’s next. It’s normal to be anxious when your future is uncertain. But the flip side of anxiety is excitement. Instead of focusing on the paralysis of choice -- too many possible jobs that none seem “perfect” -- aim to learn more about yourself. Make a list of all of your skills and interests, and then brainstorm jobs where you could make use of these skills and interests. Then, write down all the reasons you don’t want each job you've come up with. Maybe you can’t afford the additional schooling that may be required, or your interests only align with half of the responsibilities that the role demands. Eventually, only a few jobs without “cons” will remain on your list, and you'll have narrowed your options into a manageable few. At this point, all you have to do is research the remaining jobs. Look up current and old job postings for similar positions and look for patterns. Set informational interviews with contacts who work in the areas you’re interested in. Vet each role carefully, and when you've assessed which career path(s) sound right for you, conduct a targeted job search that only includes these types of positions.
2. You don’t have the right network. Whether you’ve exhausted your current network or are looking to transition into a new field where you don’t know anyone, you may find the old adage of “it’s not what you know but who you know” overwhelming. But the good news about people is that you can always meet more! We have a few tried and true strategies for building your network -- aside from the (hopefully) obvious tip of attending networking events, you can start to cultivate more meaningful relationships by telling everyone you know what your employment goals are and who you want to meet. By the rules of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, someone has to know someone. You should also focus on building out your LinkedIn profile and contact list. And in a pinch, you can even cold email possible connections and hope to find a kind soul or two who'd be willing to help.
3. Your resume isn’t strong enough. Maybe you’ve been out of the workforce for several months, or you’re looking to transition to a new type of role and don't know how to play up your strengths. Or maybe you just haven’t updated your resume in a while are feeling overwhelmed. Concern about your resume is valid -- you need to present yourself well on paper in order to stand out from the pack. But pat yourself on the back -- you’ve already taken a major step toward creating a great resume simply by subscribing to our newsletter and reading our tips! If you’re still feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Working with someone to craft your resume -- whether it’s a professional service or a trusted friend -- can help you zero in on your skills. An objective outsider will be able to point out what's missing in your current resume and what elements are irrelevant or distracting. He may even recognize talents that you didn't realize you had! Settle on a clear list of skills that you feel confident about, and work to match the verbiage of the job posting to craft a strongresume. It takes time to build a great resume, but time is nothing to be afraid of.
Even if you're still feeling a bit unsettled, remind yourself that you are not defined by your current employment status. Life is too short to beat up on yourself and too long to feel restricted by any one path. Find what works for you now and what will make you happy now, and focus your energy on working toward that goal instead of freaking out and feeling stuck. You have the power to forge a satisfying career track -- the only thing to fear is fear itself.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan