"Industry Spotlight" is our monthly series where we interview professionals from across the entertainment industry about their current jobs and career trajectories. Our hope is that you will learn more about the positions you're already interested in, discover new roles you may not have considered, and utilize the wisdom of those who've paved the way before you to forge your own path for success.
This month's Industry Spotlight is a special edition, where we sat down with a Talent Acquisitions Manager at a global media firm who previously worked at a communications-focused staffing and recruitment agency. Here, he shares his insight into the recruitment process and key advice for job seekers.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: What does a recruiter do and what is your day-to-day like?
RECRUITER: It varies a bit by company and type of recruiting role, but in general it's a recruiter's job to find the best candidates for open positions. We collaborate with hiring teams and business leaders to craft job descriptions, sometimes make recommendations on how to structure the teams, post job opportunities, review applications/resumes, source for passive talent, coordinate the interview process from start to finish, and extend job offers. Day-to-day includes meetings with hiring teams and business unit leaders, spending time in the applicant tracking system (ATS) reviewing resumes for open positions, conducting initial phone screens, attending events, reporting on recruiting metrics and KPIs, and looking for qualified talent on LinkedIn and other sourcing channels.
HR: What's the first thing you look for when screening candidates?
RECRUITER: The first thing we look for is if the candidate has the necessary hard skills to do the job. Because no matter what, that is needed. However, that is not enough to proceed to the next round. We also pay close attention to communication style/ability, personality, and soft skills. Does the candidate have an ego, and if so, will that be a detriment to this team? Can they describe things clearly? Do they seem confident? Have they prepared/done research? Believe it or not, we're also listening to the candidates to understand what they are looking for in their next role. They could have every single skill needed, but if the role doesn't align to their career goals, it won't be a successful hire. Finally, we are also thinking about the future -- perhaps this role may not be a fit, but maybe there are others now or down the line that would be better. Given the active job market and low unemployment rate these days, recruiters need to think ahead and be strategic if they are going to successfully fill their open positions.
HR: What's the #1 resume mistake you see?
RECRUITER: Misaligned dates of employment. For example, we'll see Job A from December 2015 - January 2018, and then Job B from January 2017 - June 2018. While it's possible someone held two jobs at once, make sure that's clear if it's the case. Along those lines, sometimes we also see certain dates on the resume, but then when talking to the candidate they give us different dates or time in the role, and that conflict can cause concern and lack of trust in what's being communicated to us. Bottom line is, don't be afraid to tell the truth, and if there are gaps in employment, that's OK -- just find a way to address them on the resume and the phone screen (and you don't have to account for every single little thing you did, it's understandable that candidates will have some minor gaps in employment history for a variety of reasons).
HR: How should candidates use LinkedIn?
RECRUITER: LinkedIn can be a powerful tool. First and foremost, make sure you have a professional profile. That includes a professional-looking photo, and most (if not all) of the sections filled out. Link your role to your company's page if they have one (and if they don't, take the initiative and make them one!). Another thing that's very helpful for recruiters is if you include two key pieces of information for each job: 1) a brief overview of the company or business unit/division you work for, especially if it's not commonly known, and 2) a summary of your key responsibilities. These two snapshots provide some great information all in one place. Also, leverage your network! Reach out to mutual connections, ask for introductions to recruiters or professionals you want to meet, and be willing to pay it forward and help others! And finally, if a recruiter does reach out to you, respond! You don't have to be interested in the role, but it never hurts to start the relationship.
HR: Many of our readers are looking to make big career transitions -- i.e. freelance to full time, returning to work after time off with family, switching career paths entirely -- what can they do to convince a recruiter they're right for a job in a new sector?
RECRUITER: This is a great question, and I've found myself in this situation in my own career as well. First, you need to know the market and come to the conversation with knowledge. You need to understand the role you are applying for and what the requirements are, and whether you have them or not. I'd say it's less about "convincing" and more about "exploring" -- make it a collaborative partnership with the recruiter, be very open and clear about what you are looking for and why, and what areas of your background and experience can apply. Also, admit to what you don't know or don't have experience with -- most companies, while they have a list of requirements for each job, will hire people who don't hit every single box. Remember, other skills are important, too -- personality fit, soft skills, communication, ambition -- these all can help your case. And finally, be realistic -- if you've been a graphic designer for 10 years and now you want to be a TV executive, you're not going to be able to start at the same level as someone with 10 years of relevant experience. Be ready to have that conversation, admit to what you do and don't know, be realistic about your expectations for the job and salary, do your research, and you'll probably then be well on your way to landing that career transition you are looking for.
HR: Tell us about ATS - how important is it to tailor your resume to them? What keywords are absolutely imperative? Do all companies use the same ATS?
RECRUITER: There are tons of ATSs out there that companies use; it's essentially recruiting software. Many are similar in how they function, but each have their own strengths and nuances. My first piece of advice is not to worry too much about it. The ATS is more for the recruiting teams to manage open positions, applications, pipelines, job status, candidate status, etc. However, certain ATSs are more advanced than others and may use technology to help match a resume to a particular role. So, first and foremost, make sure you have a solid resume as a foundation. This means it's detailed, hits the important points, and can be adaptable. Then, it doesn't hurt to tailor your resume to the job description. So, if you see a job description touting certain skills or using specific keywords, there's nothing wrong with making sure your resume matches some of that verbiage or addresses those areas...but only if it's true! It may increase your chance of matching in the system and getting contacted for the role. But again, I wouldn't drive yourself nuts trying to do this to perfection. Just develop the best resume that showcases your professional career and professional self and make tweaks here and there to align to the the job description, and you should be in good shape.
One of the questions we're asked most often is "My career trajectory doesn't match the jobs I'm interested in now -- how can I get potential employers to notice me?"
Well, it's a lot easier to make a transition if you can prove that you'd succeed in the role. To do this, there are three steps you'll need to take: identifying which of your skills matter, presenting them in your application materials, and letting your network know you're looking to make a move. Here's how you'll do it:
1. Identify your skills. Look at a few job postings in the field you're considering pursuing and rephrase the requirements and preferred qualifications as questions starting with "Can you...," as in: "Can you liaise with multiple parties to execute deliverables?" and "Can you develop strategic plans and negotiate with multiple stakeholders to meet goals?" and "Can you track projects and maintain an organized database of talent?" If you answer "yes" consistently, think about why. What have you done in your previous roles that makes you confident you'd be able to do what's required of you in this new capacity? Those are your transferable skills. Any other skills you have -- even if the majority of your job was devoted to employing them -- are irrelevant as you transition.
2. Present your skills. When you're transitioning to a new side of the industry or a new career entirely, you'll need to contextualize your resume more than usual so that hiring managers get a clear understanding of how you're qualified for a role. For example, if you've been a freelance field producer for years and are now looking for a full-time role in development at a network, you have to help the hiring manager look beyond your title -- recruiters and executives don't necessarily know what a field producer does. Return to the job posting, and for every skill you answered "yes" to, mimic the language the posting uses and craft your bullets accordingly. If the posting requires someone who can pitch original show ideas to networks, you should have a bullet that says something along the lines of "Pitch segments and storylines to EPs and network executives." Is it an exact match? No. Did the bulk of your time in the field actually involve directing cameras and wrangling talent, with the occasional pitch thrown in? Maybe. But it doesn't matter -- if you can pitch, you can pitch. If you can come up with storylines, that's development. You'll likely have to overhaul your resume to make it fit your new goals, but that's okay -- it's worth taking the time to get the job you really want.
3. Tell your network. Most jobs come from referrals, especially at mid or senior levels. But if the people in your network know you in one capacity, it would be weird for them to recommend you for jobs they don't think you'd be interested in! Tell everyone you know that you're looking to make a move, and be specific. People are more likely to help you when you connect the dots -- "I'd love to get into the ad sales or integrations department of a cable network" is a better trigger than "I want to move into marketing." If your existing network isn't ideal for your new career path, start making new connections! Use LinkedIn to connect with people for informational interviews and turn one informational into another to grow your network in a new field. When the right job opens up, and a recruiter gets your resume from a referral, they'll know you're actually interested in the job and that someone's willing to vouch for your ability to do it. It may seem exhausting to network, but it actually doesn't take much more time or energy than applying for 50 jobs a day and feeling sorry for yourself.
If you've gone through the posting and discovered that your skills are not transferable -- and let's be clear, most soft skills are -- then you probably need to learn something new! You can either decide to start at the bottom and take an entry-level job in the field or go back to school to earn a degree or certification. It's important to make sure you begin your new career well-informed, so we still recommend using your network (current contacts, alumni, community members, and LinkedIn) to schedule informational interviews with people in your field of interest. This way, you can see if their jobs really interest you and learn potential strategies for breaking in. Maybe someone will take a chance on you, but at the very least, you'll prepare yourself for how to accrue the skills you need.
Today’s Hollywood job market is tricky. Many people are struggling to find work – even extremely experienced and qualified candidates can stay on job hunt for months. It’s easy to get discouraged when this happens and start questioning your capabilities and worth. Maybe you’ve started applying for jobs that are below your current title. Or you’re starting to consider a job that would require a pay cut. If this sounds like you, it’s probably time to take an assessment of your job application process and then spend a bit of time doing some personal reflection.
If you’re having trouble finding a job, take a closer look at your job application materials and make sure you're presenting yourself in the best possible light. Are you afraid that putting down the full scope of your responsibilities or highlighting the scale of your achievements will sound like bragging? Trust us, it won’t. Plus, there are plenty of people who don’t think twice about bragging -- you don't want to undersell yourself comparatively. Give yourself credit for all the great work you’ve done and make sure it’s not getting buried with a bunch of irrelevant stuff -- you don't need to include every single thing you've ever done, but rather the most transferable skills for the jobs you're pursuing.
Even more importantly, don’t dumb your resume down for lower-level jobs! If you’re taking off achievements to make yourself look more appealing for jobs below your pay grade, you’re applying for the wrong jobs. You wouldn’t be happy in those jobs even if you got them. Instead, aim high. Apply for jobs at your level and above your level – you never know when someone will take a chance on you. But you’ll never have that chance if you don’t reach for the stars.
And if you’re considering a pay cut, think really hard about what effect this will have on your lifestyle. We believe there are very few instances when a pay cut makes sense. Are you considering it because you’re frustrated, or is this actually a job you’re extremely passionate about? Chances are, if it’s the right fit, the employer will try to match your current salary. Ask for what you believe you’re worth. And don’t let that number in your head drop because you’ve been looking for a job for a long time.
Even if you’re doing everything right, it might not be that easy to find a job. But that’s a reflection of today’s job market – it has nothing to do with the value you bring to the table. Remember this. Think back on all you’ve accomplished in your career, and remind yourself regularly of the things you’re proud of. Write them down if you need to. Self-affirmation is important during a difficult job search, especially because it will convince you to keep trying for the jobs you really want. And you deserve that job – don’t forget it!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
It’s already October?! The year is flying by! If you’re thinking about finding a new job for the new year, you should probably begin getting your application materials ready and doing some research. It may seem premature, but you'll get the best results if you start now. Here's why:
1. You still have time to build some key relationships. It’s not ideal to ask someone you’ve just met for a job. But if you can set up some informational meetings in October and November before everyone starts to check out for the holidays, you’ll be able to establish a rapport without begging for a job in your first meeting. Plus, you can count this as recon – you may get some insight about what roles might be opening up in January. So build your list of dream companies and start reaching out ASAP!
2. The holidays are a great time to reconnect. Make a list of all the people you want to get back in touch with in the new year. You’ll want to send them some sort of holiday greeting before or after the Christmas break. When doing this, you’ll often hear about new job openings, so you’ll want your application materials to be ready to go whenever they’re asked for. Plus, don’t you want to relax over the holidays instead of stressing about who you forgot to email?
3. You’ll be ahead of the curve when January rolls around. We always get a flurry ofresume orders during the first couple of weeks of January. Everyone is looking for a job in the new year, and this is often when lots of great roles open up. Imagine if instead of rushing to get your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date, you could spend your time researching job openings and being one of the first to submit your resume. Your January will be far less stressful than others’, and you’ll have more time to spend on getting yourresume into the right hands.
Three months might seem like a long time, but in reality, you only have a few usable weeks left in the year to get prepared for your 2020 job hunt. Remember, it takes time to put all the puzzle pieces in place to successfully land a new job. Get started now – you won’t regret it!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan