If you’re back in the job market after a long hiatus, you’re likely concerned that you don’t know how to look for jobs. Where you should apply? What are employers looking for these days? Where should you even begin?
Take a deep breath. Looking for jobs IS a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you might fear! In fact, many of the same skills you’ve deployed in your past roles will come in super handy during your job search. It can help to think of your job search as a work project -- simply navigate the required steps the way you would any other professional task.
For instance, a great job search strategy includes reaching out to your network and asking for help, either for referrals to jobs or introductions to other folks to expand your contact list. It can be very daunting to conduct outreach on behalf of yourself, but you probably reached out to people all the time in previous roles! If you are or were an assistant, you have experience tracking down info for your boss and contacting others to schedule meetings. If you work in production, you’ve probably conducted outreach to crew up a show, source props, secure locations, obtain permits, and rent equipment. If you work in sales or representation, you’ve mastered the art of the warm intro and cold email. As you leverage your network to ask for support in your job search, imagine that you’re reaching out to someone for a business purpose you’re familiar with, and it’ll be that much easier.
There are other skills you already have that will help in your job search too. Researching target companies is just like creating lists of writers/directors or casting targets. If you have strong project management or organizational skills, tap into those to create a job search calendar to triage when you search certain sites and hold yourself accountable when applying for jobs. Following up on the status of your application or job interview is the same as managing any other type of follow-up. And so on!
Once you take the pressure off, it’ll become easier to focus on doing the work of applying for jobs -- that is, reading the posting carefully, creating a targeted resume and cover letter, and asking your network for referrals. Trust us: You got this.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Detail-oriented. Strong written and verbal communication skills. Go-getter.
These are the soft skills that are most often listed in job postings. They’re also the easiest ones for hiring managers to assess during the hiring process! And no, this is not because you’ve listed them on your resume. In fact, if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know that we recommend avoiding listing soft skills on your resume, and instead showing how you used those skills through bullet points that reflect tangible accomplishments.
One of the reasons we make that recommendation is because anyone can claim a soft skill, and without evidence to back it up, why would a hiring manager believe you? Beyond that, hiring managers can directly see if you have some of the soft skills they require through the application process. Let's go through a few examples how they assess these three skills.
Hiring managers can tell if you’re detail-oriented very easily. First, did you follow the application instructions in the job posting? If they asked for a cover letter, and you didn’t send one, you obviously missed that detail. If they asked you to include your top three favorite TV shows in the cover letter, and you don’t, they know you don’t pay attention to details or follow instructions. (That kind of call out is actually designed almost exclusively as a soft skills test, which is why it’s listed more in entry-level postings where applicants may not have proven their soft skills professionally yet!). Another way to see if you’re detail-oriented – does your resume match the job posting? Is it clear why you applied? Or did you send a production-oriented resume for a development executive role? A detail-oriented person will read the posting carefully and thoroughly and review their resume to make sure it aligns with the role.
Similarly, communication skills become evident throughout the application process. For example, if a person with strong written communication skills is applying for a job over email, they’ll send a short, well-written cover email instead of a blank email or a one-line “See attached.” When they’re contacted for an interview, they’ll respond professionally, with full, punctuated sentences, and no typos or grammatical errors. If a hiring manager reaches out to set an interview, and you reply to the email, “Yupp Monday 10am is good Thx,” you’re not demonstrating strong written communication skills for a professional environment. It’s also easy for hiring managers to get a sense of your verbal communication skills during the job interview. Sure, they’re looking to see if you’re really a fit based on a deeper dive into your professional background, but they’ll also know in a moment or two whether you are able to communicate your thoughts concisely and articulately.
A skill like “go-getter” is obvious to hiring managers too! Someone who truly takes initiative will do so during their job search. First, they’ll make sure their materials are as strong as can be and tailored to the job posting. Then, they’ll go the extra mile to see if they can get a referral to the position through their network or try to find a recruiter on LinkedIn who they can speak to directly. Even if they can’t find a connection, if they do get an interview, they’ll show proactivity by arriving on time, answering questions that demonstrate they've researched the company and projects, and sending a thank you note within 24 hours.
As you apply for jobs, keep in mind that hiring managers are vetting you beyond what’s written on your resume or said in your interview. One of the biggest missteps candidates can make is claiming a soft skill they don’t have, as it raises red flags about all their other qualifications the moment a hiring manager discovers one is a misrepresentation. Make sure you cultivate these skills (coaching can help!) and demonstrate them throughout the application process.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Many of our clients approach us when they’re frustrated by a long job search. They’ve been applying for months and getting no calls for interviews. Sometimes, they just need a stronger resume, and once they’ve got the right document in hand, the calls start coming in.
But often, the problem isn’t just their resume; it’s that they aren’t applying for the right jobs.
Applying for jobs isn’t a numbers game. It’s not like there’s a magic percentage of applications you can send in that result in a call for an interview. In fact, approaching the job search by resume bombing any job that’s remotely interesting is going to result in fewer interview calls and more desperation, because your documents won’t be convincing to the hiring manager! Instead, you should apply strategically for jobs that align with your career goals and interests.
How do you determine if you’re applying for the right jobs? First, make sure you identify what you actually want to do next. Are you looking to stay at the same level, or are you looking to level up? What kind of company do you want to work for? What level of work/life balance are you looking for? Do you want to work remotely, in the office, or hybrid? What skills did you enjoy utilizing from your previous jobs, and what kind of work do you never want to do again? Make sure you’re clear on the answers to these questions, so you can vet job postings against them.
Then, you need to make sure to read job postings carefully. Consider that many job titles are alike, while the duties are really different. For instance, a creative producer job at an ad agency isn’t the same as a creative producer job at a film production company, and neither job is the same as an on-air promotions producer at a broadcast network. If you apply for every “producer” role out there without reading through the listing, you’ll likely apply for jobs you’re not qualified for or don’t even want! Read each responsibility and qualification and ask yourself, “Can I do this? And do I want to do this?”
If you’re applying for a job you really want, you’re also more likely to get support from your network. Your friends and contacts will go out on a limb for you if they think you’ll be a good fit for the role, but they’re not going to put their reputations on the line to refer you for a role you might ultimately reject or not qualify for. Beyond that, hiring managers can tell the difference between a resume that was sent off willy-nilly and one that was customized for the job posting and showcases a real interest in the role. Make sure you fit into that latter category.
Spend a little extra time vetting the job posting and updating your application materials accordingly – it will pay off a lot more than taking the time to fire off 3 more resumes for jobs you wouldn’t even accept
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
If you’re actively on the hunt for a new job, you know you need an updated resume and LinkedIn profile. But what about when you’re settled into a role? On one hand, you know you should tailor your resume to the specific roles you’re targeting, which is hard to do if you don’t have a role in mind. On the other hand, you know Hollywood hires quickly, and you don’t want to be caught without a great resume when your dream job opens up!
There are a few different ways to approach this. If you’re primarily freelancing and hopping from show to show, you should update your credits list, IMDB, and/or StaffMeUp profile as soon as you get a new gig, so you can pass your most recent document along after wrap. Your LinkedIn profile should be stable, with a strong evergreen summary that includes your key projects (you can update those as you get more recent credits), and you can list all your freelance experience together, so you don’t find yourself constantly adding jobs every time you start a new gig.
If you’re not actively searching but casually open to opportunities should the right one come along, you should have an updated resume that’s geared to the types of roles you’d pivot for. For example, if you’re a development executive at a production company, but you’d jump ship if you had the opportunity to work at a network, make sure your LinkedIn is polished so recruiters can find you. Just don't be too overt about the job search, so your current colleagues and boss won’t think you have one foot out the door. Keep your descriptions in line with your current role and professional persona, while highlighting the key skills you bring to the table to increase searchability. On your resume, add your current role and update the job description as you garner more achievements, work on new projects, or expand your duties. You’ll want to keep the bullets tailored to the roles you’d leave for, so when something opens up, all you have to do is convert to PDF and press send.
If you’re happy where you are with no plans to leave, and you’re not even sure what you’d do if you were to embark on a job search, you should use your LinkedIn and resume differently. Your LinkedIn should tell the story of who you are in your current role and reflect an interest in building relationships for your current company. For your resume, we recommend creating an overview document that you can pull from when you are ready for the job search. Include everything you’ve done in current or past roles, even if you’re not sure if they’re relevant. This way, you can select bullets to match a particular job description when the time comes. It’s a good idea to update this document every few months or every time you finish a major project, so you don’t forget your accomplishments. This can also be helpful in case there’s a swift change in your employment status. You don’t want to find yourself with a resume that’s five years old when you’re suddenly laid off and need to find a job stat. Don’t worry too much about this document, though – it doesn't need to be perfect. You just want to have a handy record of your experience that you can easily pull from, so if and when you do decide to start on the job search, you’re ahead of the game.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan