LinkedIn has changed a lot over the years, and while it wasn’t the best fit for entertainment professionals back in the day, it’s increasingly effective for our industry. That is, if you know how to use it! Here are 5 ways you should be using LinkedIn to boost your entertainment career – whether or not you’re currently looking for work.
1. Fill out your profile. If you want recruiters or potential professional contacts to find you, you’ll need to spend some time filling out your profile. Since LinkedIn is a social media site first and foremost, you’ll want to write in first person and include details and anecdotes that you won't find on a resume or professional bio. The tone of your profile should be inviting and authentic. The specifics of what you’ll include will vary depending on how you want to use the site – if you’re looking for a new job, you’ll want to have each section filled out thoroughly, but if you’re balancing two career paths, you may want a leaner profile. Regardless, it’s a good idea to make sure your roles are up to date and your skills section reflects your relevant skills. And don't forget to add a picture!
2. Engage with your newsfeed. Your LinkedIn newsfeed can be a treasure trove of valuable information. For example, you’ll see when someone you know gets a new job – and if that new job is at a company you’d like to work for or do business with, you can note that you have a connection there and reach out when it’s appropriate! Similarly, people often post job openings at their companies before the posting goes wide to source people from their networks. This is an open invitation for you to get your resume directly into the hiring manager’s hands. It’s also an opportunity for you to pass along a posting that’s potentially helpful to one of your contacts – paying it forward is an essential element of being a good networker. To that end, your newsfeed will also give you a heads up when a contact has an exciting announcement or was featured in the news – all excellent opportunities to reach out and nurture your relationship. Of course, you should be posting updates about your own career as well!
3. Follow companies of interest and public personas. Your newsfeed is populated by more than just your human contacts – it’ll also highlight posts from company pages and people in the public eye. This is a great way to keep your pulse on the industry. Maybe you want to follow a journalist whose industry insights you really appreciate. Or an analytics company that posts regular breakdowns of the state of the industry. Or a company you’d love to work for that posts relevant news and project updates. LinkedIn is a great aggregator for this content, but beyond that, you’ll have the opportunity to like and comment on these posts and potentially build online connections. This is especially important for job seekers – if you follow a company on LinkedIn and engage with its content, the hiring team will be able to see you’re really passionate about the work and not just applying willy nilly. Note that some companies also have a feature where you can express interest in working there in the future, which we highly recommend, so you can show up in recruiters’ feeds more readily.
4. Use the platform as a research tool. Our industry is small, and it’s likely you’re only a few steps away from the connection you’re looking for. Whether you’re trying to find a contact who can refer you to an open role or hoping to meet someone at a company you’d like to do business with, you can use LinkedIn to find them. Type the company name into the search bar, and you’ll see a list of your connections, starting with first-degree contacts (people you already know), followed by second degree contacts (people your contacts know). You can see who the link is to your second degree contact and ask that person (via email, not LinkedIn message!) for a warm intro. Similarly, you can browse your close contacts' connections to see who they may be able to introduce you to.
5. Find job openings. This is the most common use of LinkedIn – applying for jobs. LinkedIn’s algorithm is scarily on point, if you know how to teach it. If your profile has strong keywords that match the roles you’re targeting, LinkedIn will recommend appropriate roles. The platform will also tweak its recommendations based on what you search for and click on – we see this unfold in real time as we personally get recommendations based on whatever roles our most recent client was targeting. You can also set up job alerts for specific companies and role types. But one thing to keep in mind – avoid the “easy apply” feature. If you have the option, send a formal resume to the company that’s tailored specifically to the role – which your LinkedIn profile won’t be.
We know it's a lot of work to keep up with LinkedIn on top of your job, personal life, and other social media activity. But if you can dedicate just a little bit of time to at least some of these steps, you'll see that it can have a big impact on your career!
A lot of job seekers are caught between the seemingly-contradicting axioms of “finding a job is all about who you know” and “asking for help is a sign of weakness.” It’s as if they think the key to success in the industry is having connections who will drop opportunities in your lap without you ever having to make a peep. Sure, this does happen for some people in rare circumstances, but it’s the exception, not the rule. Most of us need to ask our contacts for help, whether we’re looking for introductions to new people or seeking referrals to open roles.
Asking for help can be scary! It’s easy to get trapped by your inner critic telling you that you’re unworthy of the favor you’re asking for, or that the person you’re reaching out to will be annoyed to hear from you. A lot of us buy into the negative self-talk -- that our networks pale in comparison to those of our friends, that our contacts won’t remember us, that asking for help is somehow simultaneously a sign of icky hustling and laughable vulnerability.
It’s time to silence that voice in your head. The truth is, plenty of people want to help their contacts. Not only does it feel good to pay it forward, but it’s a good way to stock up on owed favors. Plus, so many of us lose track of our contacts, so when one reaches out to ask for help, it’s a good revitalization of that relationship.
A good rule of thumb is this: If you’d be pleasantly surprised to hear from a particular contact, and you’d be willing to help them if they needed a favor, assume they are just as generous and kind-hearted as you are. It’s still possible they’ll say no – maybe they aren’t in a position to help you with this particular request, or they’re going through major life stuff and now’s not a good time, or they’re secretly a jerk. But let them be the one to make that decision. As long as you’re polite, straightforward, and professional, there’s no harm in reaching out. If they say no, it’s the same result as if you never asked – but they can only say yes if you’re bold enough to ask.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
In Hollywood, the absolute best way to increase your odds of getting an interview is to get referred to a position by someone who knows the hiring manager. This is especially true now, when job postings have hundreds, and sometimes even upwards of a thousand applicants. Hiring managers simply cannot read that many resumes, and they'll lean into their networks to cull through the candidates -- even if your resume is perfect, you'll want to make sure they can find it!
In an ideal world, you’ll have put the word out that you are looking for a new job and have conducted numerous informational interviews, and someone will remember you and reach out when a relevant position opens up. But even if that doesn’t happen, you can be proactive and generate referrals for open roles of interest. The idea is that you want to track the path of your resume until you feel pretty confident that someone in the hiring department has reviewed it. Here’s the process we recommend:
Once you have a posting of interest and have submitted your resume through formal channels, do a LinkedIn search for the company, click on “people,” and see if you know anyone that works there. If you do, great! Send them an email and ask if they can pass your resume to the hiring manager. Hopefully they know someone in the department and can put in a good word for you directly. They’ll probably be able to tell you if the role is still open and may even have some info about the hiring timeline. If you’re the type of candidate they are looking for, you will be almost sure to get an interview.
However, if this is a big company, and your contact doesn’t know anyone in the hiring department, you’ll need to take some extra steps. The person you know may be able to refer you through an internal employee portal, but that won’t necessarily get you an interview. In this case, or in the case that you have found a role of interest but don’t know anyone at the company, you need to leverage LinkedIn to find second degree connections. This means that you search for the company, click on “people,” and see who works there that you have a shared connection with. Reach out to your contacts who know people at the company, prioritizing the people that are most likely to want to do you a favor and the people who know someone in or close to the hiring department. If possible, reach out to multiple people to ensure that your resume gets to the hiring manager’s hands. If the hiring manager is hearing your name left and right, they’ll have no choice but to bring you in!
When reaching out to your contacts, it’s important that you reach out via email and not LinkedIn, as LinkedIn messages often get lost. Be really specific about your ask, and provide as much detail as possible, including a link to the original job posting, a job ID if there is one, the name of the person you are trying to get your resume to, and a little bit of detail about why you are interested/right for the role. And don’t forget to attach your resume! This way, your contact can simply forward your email to their contact, who will see your professional, well-written email summarizing your qualifications.
Continue this process until you know that your resume has been viewed by the hiring manager, and hopefully, you'll get that call for an interview. Keep in mind that this process works best if you have dedicated time to building your network and staying active on LinkedIn. Read our many blog posts on networking and LinkedIn if you think either of these areas needs a little love. Good luck!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
AI is the talk of the town these days. It’s coming for all our jobs, maybe. But is it helpful for our job applications? Should you use ChatGPT to write your resume?
We conducted several experiments with fictionalized candidates and real job postings to test ChatGPT’s capabilities. Obviously, as resume writers, we have a huge stake in this question, so we were very scared of what we’d find. But our ultimate goal is to help Hollywood professionals navigate their careers (in and out of the industry), so if ChatGPT’s resume writing prowess would mean that we’d lean more into the career coaching side of things, we'd be open to that, too.
What we found was that ChatGPT can write a semi-decent resume, but it lacks specificity and won't stand out from the crowd. And it takes some finesse to get a final product that's close to decent. For one of our experiments, we shared a job posting for a branded content producer and wrote about our fictional candidate’s experience by using some of the skills and keywords we’d use ourselves, if we’d been hired to write the candidate’s resume. ChatGPT’s version was pretty good – it spit back a lot of the keywords we input and used mostly strong action verbs. However, the ChatGPT resume included an objective and listed soft skills, which we (and most experts) don’t recommend. And more importantly, it didn’t include any achievements or context and read as very generic – for example:
We then tried an approach more akin to the way our clients approach us initially. Instead of sharing a specific job posting, we shared a broad role category (development executive). We also prompted ChatGPT with a more casual way of explaining our fictional candidate’s background, the way our clients often do in their initial outreach to us and before we ask follow up questions on our calls. This version was much less successful. For example:
Based on our assessment, ChatGPT is not capable of writing a strong resume on its own. But it could be a good starting place for you to write your own materials. You’ll need to spoonfeed it details using the right terminology and do some pretty heavy editing to personalize it and make it read like a human wrote it. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the revision process but hates staring at a blank page, you might find ChatGPT to be a helpful tool to point you in the right direction.
However, if you’re having trouble figuring out which of your achievements to highlight in your application, or you don’t have the time to redline an AI-generated document, or you’re not confident in your ability to write strong, clear prompts, you may be better off staying away from these tools, at least for now. Their promise of the ability to write an interview-worthy resume in the blink of an eye isn’t fully realized. As human resume writers, we can ask the right probing questions to pinpoint our clients' relevant achievements and write their documents in a way that reflects their and our humanity. If you don’t have the budget for a human resume writer, you may still be better off on your own -- create a skills list (with the brainstorming help of friends and colleagues), follow our tips for writing strong materials, and have a friend look the documents over for typos and clarity.
Remember, the hiring manager wants to hire a human for the open role (for now!). Whether you use ChatGPT as a starting point or not, make sure your unique perspective and background comes through in your application.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan