If you work in entertainment (or are trying to work in entertainment), you've certainly heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” about a thousand times. And there's a good chance this phrase has given you some anxiety at one point or another. It's easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone who is working in Hollywood has an awesomely large network, one that you could never cultivate, and therefore you won't be successful. Perhaps you've even blamed the small size of your network during a frustrating job search. But often, the problem isn’t in how big your network is. Rather, it’s how you use it.
Consider the idea of six degrees of separation. Even if you move to LA from a small town with no industry connections, you won’t be more than 6 degrees away from someone in the industry. Instead of lamenting that you don’t have any connections in the industry, start building your network through the people you do know. That means friends, relatives, and fellow alumni. Tell everyone you know what you want to do and ask if they know anyone who can help you -- or anyone who might know someone. Your best friend’s new boyfriend might have an aunt who works as an editor on a TV show, but if you haven’t shared your eagerness to meet anyone in the industry with her, how would she know to make that connection?
Often, people don’t put two-and-two together -- your best friend in the example above may know you want to meet people in Hollywood, but maybe she thinks of her boyfriend’s aunt as the lady who posts about her cats on Instagram, not as a well-known editor. This is where you’ll have to get a bit more assertive. We recommend using LinkedIn to find connections to your connections. Connect with everyone you know -- industry or otherwise -- and search their connections. You can filter by location or industry type or company. Conversely, if you have a dream company you want to make inroads with, type that company name into LinkedIn and see if any 2nd degree connections come up, or if you can reverse engineer your third degree connections based on alma mater or previous work history. Politely reach out to your direct contact and ask for a warm introduction for an informational meeting, or (if your direct contact is a close contact) see if they know the person well enough to pass your resume along for a specific opening. Boom -- you’ve got a connection!
Of course, you'll want to maintain your network as much as possible on a regular basis -- meeting up for (virtual) drinks and reaching out with a friendly update, congratulatory note, or holiday wish -- but as your network grows, that’s a bit unrealistic. Just because you lose touch with someone doesn’t mean they’re lost to you forever! There’s no harm in reaching out to get back in touch (politely -- we can’t stress this enough) to make a simple ask. It’s important not to sell yourself short here, either -- if you had a good relationship, the contact may be happy to hear from you, or even excited about a potential collaboration or opportunity! You can also see if anyone you have a stronger relationship with is still in regular touch with that person and ask if they’d be willing to put in a good word for you -- like “I was talking to Jane Doe -- remember Jane? -- and she mentioned she’s looking for jobs in film sales, and your company has an opening. Would you mind if I put you two back in touch to chat?” Remember that the worst thing that can happen is the person ignores you or refuses to connect, which leaves you in the same position you're in now. The cost/benefit analysis yields only benefit potential, no cost.
Even if you’re starting with zero first degree connections (like we did!), you will accumulate a network of people in the industry, and once you do, you just have to remember to tap into it. Sure, it takes some work, sleuthing, and confidence, but those are skills we know you can master.
-- 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
This week is the five year anniversary of Hollywood Resumes! We’re so grateful for all the loyal readers talented clients who have supported us over the years. As we enter our sixth year in business, we’ve taken some time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the past five years. Here are a few trends we’ve noticed.
1. Many job seekers aren’t aware of their value. We’re often told that our consultation calls feel like therapy sessions, because we spend so much time digging into achievements and asking what our clients are most proud of, allowing them the opportunity to articulate their value and describe what they're really looking for in their next jobs. We've been surprised by how many clients don't see how much they bring to the table until we call out a particular achievement as worthwhile. "It's no big deal," or "Do people really care? I was just doing my job!" are common refrains. But it's this information that allows us to highlight the unique skills and biggest strengths of each client -- and back it up with hard evidence in their resume bullet points. These conversations also give our clients a confidence boost -- for many, it's a rare chance to be seen and heard. It’s shocking how many people are applying for jobs below their skill levels, and it’s because they’ve stopped fully believing in themselves. If this is you, consider making a list of accomplishments and use that as the basis for your job search.
2. Most job applicants either oversell or undersell themselves on their resumes. When we get incoming client resumes, we usually either see pages of dense text that no one will ever read, or sparse bullet points that don’t give readers much context about previous positions or highlight relevant achievements. It's our job to find a balance. We talk to our clients to figure out what their unique skills are and understand the full picture of their career trajectories, and then whittle that down based on what’s relevant for the specific roles they’re applying for. You can do this, too -- going back to the point above, you need to fully recognize your accomplishments and realize your value. Then, you have to take the extra step of sharing only the information that the hiring manager needs to see. The result is a clear, concise resume that may not include every little thing you’ve ever done, but it will prove that you’ve got what it takes to do the job you want.
3. Challenging career transitions are extremely common. A significant number of our clientele are people who are transitioning into entertainment from another industry, trying to move into an unfamiliar role across the industry, or trying to leave entertainment for a different sector. And on top of that, they’re trying to do that without having to take a significant pay cut. Many of our clients feel alone in these pursuits, but trust us -- five years of clients has proven otherwise! Here’s more good news: Hiring managers also recognize that not every person has had the perfect career trajectory. Yes, you’ve got to convince someone to take a chance on you. But remember, you have the advantage of a unique career path and a fresh perspective. Highlight it!
4. Non-traditional candidates have some of the most interesting job applications. Many people come to us because their experience doesn’t align perfectly with the jobs they want. They're often nervous that hiring managers won't take them seriously, but we see it differently -- these candidates know what they want and are willing to make risky career moves to pursue their passions. Beyond that, the experiences they may view as a drawback are often what will make them stand out from the crowd. Imagine what a Home Depot worker might know that they could bring to a personal assistant position supporting someone with a big estate. Or what a mom of five could bring to a job as a talent wrangler dealing with difficult celebrities. Or what a branded content producer could bring to a lifestyle network trying to reach a new target audience. It's all about finding the way to spin your story to make the connections for the hiring manager. When you do, you’ll have a much stronger application.
5. The job search takes effort. Our clients are pretty awesome -- we’ve gotten to know some incredible people over the years and heard some fascinating stories. Everyone has something special they bring to the table, and that’s what makes this job so exciting for us. However, there’s one thing our clients share: a commitment to bettering themselves and advancing their careers. Hiring a resume writer is one piece of that -- it’s evidence that our clients are investing in themselves. But passion for the work is really what predicates success -- those clients who have a clear vision for their careers are able to target their job searches and focus their energy on the jobs they really want. And on top of that, their enthusiasm sets them apart during interviews. If you want to succeed in this industry, you’ll have to take an active role in your job search.
But the biggest thing we’ve learned over the past five years? We love helping our clients! We’ve worked with so many talented people who we know will make a difference through their work and contribute great art to the world. So we thank you for that, and we look forward to serving you through 2021 and beyond
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan