Have you ever sent an email to a work contact asking to reconnect, pitching a project idea, or requesting a referral, only to never hear back? You're not alone. Pretty much everyone has been work-ghosted at one point or another. But what do you do in this situation? Especially the ghost is someone you aren’t close with, it’s likely that you had an important or sensitive reason for reaching out, and getting ignored can trigger a lot of insecurities around your relationship. Your gut instinct might be to think they hate you and will never speak to you again.
The first thing you need to do in this situation is to avoid letting your imagination come up with worst case scenarios. The most likely explanation for ghosting is that the person didn’t see your email. Or saw it, meant to respond later, and forgot because it was marked as “read” in their inbox. This becomes more and more true as you reach out to contacts higher up the food chain. The number of emails department heads are getting each day is mind-numbing, so it’s no surprise that they miss emails frequently. And this gets even worse around the holidays or other busy times of year! You never know what’s going on, but be aware that if there’s a holiday or big industry conference coming up, it might not be the best time to email. Most importantly, don’t automatically assume they are ignoring you and write them off as a bad person. 99% of the time, the ghosting was unintentional.
If you haven’t heard back in a couple of weeks, follow up! Simply reply to the same chain and say that you’re checking in to see if they received the previous email and ask your question again. Most likely you’ll get an “I’m so sorry, I didn't see this email!” response pretty quickly. And you can continue the relationship from there. If you still don’t get an answer, this could be a red flag. If you’re trying to pitch a project or have a professional inquiry other than asking for a favor, you could try reaching out to a colleague of the person and explain the situation. They’ll probably be able to offer a reason that the other person couldn’t respond or get an answer for you. But it’s possible that the original contact doesn’t want to get back in touch. And if that’s the case, move on. There are plenty of other people to maintain relationships with.
One thing to note – none of this applies when it comes to job applications. It’s quite common not to hear back after you’ve applied for a role. Even when you’ve gone pretty far down the interview path. Is this right or fair? No. But it’s a reality we all have to deal with. You can always follow up with the recruiter or hiring manager every couple of weeks, but if you don’t hear anything, don’t take it personally. They were probably considering many other qualified candidates who all got ghosted as well.
The bottom line is: you have to give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t get too offended when you don’t hear back after sending an email. Instead, get comfortable with following up – a quick check in email is the best way to get an answer on something while maintaining the relationship.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Career transitions. They can be super scary. Or at least seem that way at first. But the truth is, not all career moves are full-blown transitions, and if you play your cards right, your next job may be closer than you think. Let’s break down the different types of career transitions and how to navigate them.
When you’ve been on one level of the corporate ladder for a while, it can seem like a huge jump to get to the next level. Think: assistant to coordinator, PA to AP. A lot of entry-level jobs are really different in scope from the next tier up, and you’ve got to prove you’re ready to take on the advanced responsibilities. The best way to do this, of course, is to get promoted from within -- but let’s be real, sometimes you have to move to a new company or show to be seen for what you’re truly capable of (or to get the appropriate monetary compensation). How do you convince hiring managers you’re ready for that next title when you’ve never had it before? Try integrating some higher-level duties into your current role while you search. If you’re a development assistant, that means offering your own script notes when appropriate, or if you’re an agency coordinator, hip-pocketing a few clients. If you’re an AP looking to get into story producing, ask if you can create a string-out or sit with the editor and give notes. This is important both because it allows you to include these necessary skills on your resume and because it’ll prove to the people you’re working with that they can vouch for you to do these higher-level tasks.
MOVING TO A NEW SIDE OF THE INDUSTRY
If you’ve been working in one side of the industry for a while -- say freelancing as a producer -- and you’re looking to get a role as an in-house executive, you might be tempted to time travel back into assistant-land and start your career over. Don’t. Please, please don’t. Transitions to new areas of the industry are not full-blown career transitions, and you shouldn’t discount or discard your hard-earned skillset because you’re not looking for replica role. Instead, think about what you bring to the table that’s relevant to the side of the industry you want to be in. In the example of producer to executive, you have the management and development experience they’re looking for. Maybe you never managed a content pipeline, but you’ve managed an episode delivery schedule. Plus, you have knowledge of what makes a show successful on the ground and a new batch of creative contacts to work with. Even if you want to move to a totally different side of the industry -- like talent agency to content acquisitions -- you still have applicable skills and industry knowledge that you shouldn’t disregard.
MOVING TO A SIMILAR ROLE IN A DIFFERENT FIELD
More and more people are leaving Hollywood for content creation jobs in fields like Big Tech or advertising. With this type of transition, there’s a similar fear that you have to start at the bottom, but it’s simply not true. In fact, hiring managers at companies outside of Hollywood are a bit more industry agnostic and focused on whether you can do the role than whether you’ve always worked in that field (especially tech companies whose products didn’t exist a decade ago). Resist the urge to start at the bottom, and instead, boast about your ability to produce high-production value content or develop and pitch great concepts. The big thing to consider here is how to communicate your skills. You’ll need to rework your resume to avoid industry lingo (think “grids” or “hot sheets” or “slate”), delve more into descriptions of your responsibilities and accomplishments than a simple credits list, and create more context overall -- don’t assume everyone outside of the industry has heard of major production companies or high-rated cable series. Use the job posting as a guide -- consider why you’re able to meet the qualifications listed and write that on your resume! Just note: Ijf there are more than 1 or 2 requirements you don’t understand (and can’t decipher with a quick google search of the jargon), the role is not as similar as you think.
MOVING TO A NEW ROLE IN A NEW FIELD
The biggest and most challenging career transition is when you’re starting from scratch. Let’s say you’ve had enough of Hollywood and want to be a nurse. Your experience won’t translate, even if you worked on multiple seasons of GREY’S ANATOMY. In this scenario, you’ll need to go back to school -- which means your resume should open with education, even if you graduated from college years ago. Even for roles with fewer prerequisites than nursing, your resume should clearly explain your current interest so the hiring manager doesn’t think you applied by mistake. Consider drafting a professional summary indicating your interest in the switch (“Media professional with 10+ years of experience seeking transition to hospitality management.”) and craft your bullet points to explain the elements of your previous roles that are relevant to the job at hand. Similarly, if you’re looking to break into entertainment from a totally different field, consider taking courses in the area of the industry you’re looking to break into, joining a professional organization (like JHRTS), and highlighting relevant skills on your resume. If there are any roles in the new field that are more similar to what you’ve been doing (whether you’re transitioning into or out of entertainment) even if they aren’t your dream role, it may make more sense for you to move to a similar role in the new field and then to a different role in the new field (ie marketing executive at footwear company → marketing executive at TV network → development executive at TV network) than for you to start at the bottom, but that’s a personal decision based on how happy you’d be if the ultimate dream job didn’t pan out, how much time you’re willing to invest, and how much money you need to make.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when going through a career transition is that everyone does it at some point, and you’re not alone. Hiring managers have seen it all before, and if you tell your story well through your resume and cover letter, build a strong network of people who can champion you, and develop a strong set of skills, you don’t have to be stuck in a career you’ve outgrown. And if you know you want to transition to a new role but don’t know where to start exploring, consider our career coaching services.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
To help meet our clients' needs, Hollywood Resumes is now offering career coaching services! We offer three types of coaching services:
1. Career Coaching Sessions -- These hour-long sessions are personalized toward your career goals. During our free 30 minute consultation, we'll come up with a coaching plan for you and recommend the number of sessions we think you'll need to help you achieve your career goals.
2. Interview Coaching Sessions -- In these hour-long sessions, we'll conduct a virtual mock interview. Beforehand, we'll send you a packet of instructions to help you prepare, and then we'll conduct a 30- minute interview as if we were the employer, followed by 30 minutes of feedback and practice.
3. Assistant Coaching Program -- This four-session program is designed for entry-level employees and applicants seeking to build their assistant skills, including phones, scheduling, tracking projects, story evaluation, and navigating the Hollywood hierarchy. We'll customize this program depending on your career goals and background.
So, why have we started this service?
As much as we enjoy helping our clients craft their resumes and cover letters, we know that strong application materials aren't always enough to get you hired. You also need a clear vision of the type of role you're looking for, an understanding of how your skills make you qualified for those roles, and a job search strategy that will get your resume into the right hands. Looking for a job can be scary and lonely in the best of times, and with the new anxieties brought on by COVID and the 2021 economy, those feelings are compounded. But a career coach can help you get out of your own way, give you tools to create an effective job search, and help hold you accountable. A career coach is someone who can listen to your frustrations with the job search and design a program based on proven exercises and strategies to help you unlock your own potential.
Not every job seeker needs to work with a career coach, but there are many reasons why it might be right for you. We've rounded up a few of the most popular:
1. You're not happy with your current job/career path, but you aren't sure what other fields might make sense given your background.
2. You love working in entertainment, but for personal reasons are considering moving to an area that doesn't have a large industry presence, and you aren't sure what types of jobs will interest you or what roles you're qualified for.
3. You're unemployed and want to take this opportunity to discover if the career path you're on is the one you want to stay on, or if there are other jobs that might have more hiring/growth potential.
4. You know what job you want, but you're not sure how to conduct your job search or haven't had luck in your current job search.
5. You know what job you want, but you aren't sure you're qualified for it, and you don't know what steps to take to build your qualifications.
6. You like your job but have stopped growing in it, and you aren't sure how to take the next step toward growth, either internally or externally.
If any of these sound like you, you may want to consider our personalized coaching service, which includes a free 30-minute consultation call. Most importantly, know that you are not alone in your job search, and you won't be stuck in career limbo forever. You got this. And we're excited to help!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
A boss who makes you keep your Zoom on all day to make sure you're actually working. A coworker who constantly passes her work along to you and takes all the credit for its completion. A supervisor who gives you zero direction for a project and screams bloody murder at you when you turn in something slightly different from what they imagined.
These are examples of toxic workplaces. And unfortunately, they are endemic in Hollywood.
Though The Hollywood Commission recently reported that a majority of survey respondents have seen less abusive workplace behavior in recent years, instances of abuse are still troublingly common. There are a ton of problems associated with working in a bad environment, but one that's especially concerning is the fear of how to describe your job when you're finally able to leave its clutches. If toxic jobs and job interviews weren't tough on their own, they can be even more stressful when you put them together! But have no fear: We're here for you with some tried and true experience and answers to the three most common questions we get from job candidates seeking freedom:
How do you respond to an interviewer who asks you why you left your last job without badmouthing your boss and/or turning your interview into a therapy session?
Even if your boss is known to have a difficult personality, or your company has the reputation of being a hot mess, you want to come off as even-keeled and professional in your interview. Instead of focusing on the negative and the past, tell the interviewer why you're excited for the opportunity they're presenting. In general, the best interview tactic is to reiterate why you'd be great for the role at hand. Whether you acknowledge that you left (or are planning on leaving) because the previous role "wasn't a fit" or refer to the company's dissolution, make sure the bulk of your answer focuses on what excites you most about the job you're applying for and why you've applied. If your interviewer pushes you to gossip, resist, and consider whether this new job may also be a little toxic.
When asked about challenges you faced at work or a time you had to resolve a conflict at work, how can you answer honestly without disclosing too much about your awful colleagues?
It's super hard to think clearly about difficulties at work when the majority of your time at work was difficult! You're going to need to practice answers to this question before your interview, so your emotions don't get the best of you. If you can, pick a challenge or conflict from a previous role that wasn't toxic -- the point of the question isn't to understand your immediate work history, but rather to get a sense of how you've handled problems throughout your career. If the toxic job is your first or most relevant job, find an innocuous example that isn't going to lead you down the path of badmouthing. For instance, if your micromanaging boss had an anger problem, you can say something like, "My last boss had very specific preferences for how he wanted work turned in, and that meant I often had to redo tasks, especially early on. I learned to get more detailed instructions before starting the project, and when that wasn't an option, I made sure to turn a draft in early so that any revisions wouldn't stop us from meeting a deadline." Inside, you might be seething about that one time he berated you in front of the entire office for using Calibri instead of Helvetica and called you Calibri Cathy for a month, but by practicing a polished, surface-level answer to the question, you'll be able to keep your calm in an interview.
*We highly recommend sharing your actual stories with trusted friends and/or mental health professionals to get the emotional support and validation you need -- that'll also help you control what you say "publicly."
If your current boss would freak out if they knew you were interviewing, do you have to ask your interviewer to keep it on the DL?
Some toxic bosses understand that you are not obligated to suffer under their thumb for the rest of your life. But many will absolutely lose it if you try to leave. They may attempt to sabotage your potential (or even firm!) job offer, threaten to blacklist you if you don't stay until they're ready for you to leave (even if that's beyond an appropriate 2-week notice), fire you on the spot if they hear you've been interviewing, or force you to resign unless you sign a contract that you won't go on any more interviews. None of this is acceptable, and some of it may not be entirely legal, either. But that doesn't make it any less scary! If this happens to you, remember that this kind of behavior is exactly why you need a new job. Do not let your boss's scare tactics intimidate you. It's not really necessary to mention anything to your interviewer, and it could teeter into awkward territory. Instead, know that most hiring managers won't call a reference that isn't listed on your reference list, and it's not a huge red flag if your current boss isn't on there -- in fact, it's a quiet signal that you may not have told your boss you're looking.
But the most important thing here is to focus on getting the new job and not about the repercussions from your terrible boss. You do not need to stay at a job that is so abusive you're afraid to leave it. If possible, try to save up a bit of money so you'll be okay if you don't get the job you're interviewing for and your boss does fire you. If saving isn't an option, commit to yourself that you come first, and you'll find a way to make ends meet with a temp job if you need to. Don't let yourself be held back by an abuser any longer. And if you did get the offer, know that 2-week notice is a courtesy, not a rule, and if your boss tries to sabotage your offer, leave. They will never be helpful to you in the future anyway, and the relationship is not worth preserving; there are good people in Hollywood whose referrals and respect means something, but your boss is not among them.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan