We get a lot of questions about the LinkedIn messaging feature – when is it ok to send a message, who is it worthwhile to message over LinkedIn, or why does no one respond to my messages? In our experience, to use the LinkedIn messaging feature effectively, you have to be strategic with your outreach -- and sometimes, that means not using the feature at all.
If you’ve recently received a connection request from an old friend or former colleague over LinkedIn, it’s fine to send a quick “Hi! Nice to hear from you!” note. This probably isn’t going to result in any further interaction, but there’s no harm in sending a friendly message to someone you know. However, if you are actually trying to conduct business with someone, it’s better to take the communication off-platform. The same goes for when you're initiating connections with people from your past -- if you like, you can swap out the generic message from LinkedIn for a custom one to be pleasant, but you may not get a response.
Unfortunately, a lot of LinkedIn messages get buried among a sea of messages from random people trying to connect or are lost in the social media tab of the recipient's gmail inbox, so you might get unintentionally ghosted, even by someone you know. Plenty of people have LinkedIn profiles but are not active on the site at all. If you're trying to initiate a conversation that leads to a call or meeting with someone you know, send an email, which will have a better chance of getting read.
If you are trying to connect with someone you don’t know, either to apply for a job, set up an informational interview, or establish a business partnership, LinkedIn is a great tool for identifying targets, but it's still better to get in touch via email, for the reasons outlined above. If possible, try to get someone you know who knows the person to refer you through an introductory email. You can also try a cold email -- it's pretty easy to find someone's work email address, as most companies have a standard format.
If LinkedIn messaging is the absolute only way you can find to get in touch with someone, you’ll want to craft a message carefully. Be really specific about who you are, why you are reaching out, and what you are hoping to get by connecting with this person. If there’s something you have in common with the person (i.e. you went to the same alma mater), call that out in your note. In an ideal world, the person will respond, and you will get a meeting. But don’t be offended or discouraged if you don’t hear back – many people won’t even see the message or are simply too busy to respond.
Also, keep in mind that having a completed profile (with a picture!) is going to encourage people to want to do business with you and may increase your chances of getting a response. So if you haven’t taken the time to build out your profile, now is a good opportunity
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Your LinkedIn skills section is critical when you’re trying to catch the attention of recruiters or applying for jobs through the platform. It allows you to include searchable keywords and match criteria in job listings. It’s important that you update your skills each time you’re looking for a new role or after you’ve expanded your job responsibilities, because it will help recruiters find you more easily, and it will improve your search algorithm when trying to find open roles.
When building your LinkedIn skills section, choose skills that are searchable. You’re able to type freely into this section, but there are also skills you can select from LinkedIn’s pre-existing list. Many of the skills we use in entertainment aren’t included in their list, but there are adjacent skills you can select to help your profile appear in recruiters' search results (though you should make sure the appropriate industry terms are elsewhere in your profile, ideally in your summary and job descriptions). You’ll know whether a skill is searchable if it auto populates as you type it in. You might consider adding synonymous skills, like “leadership” and “team management,” if you have the space, since different job postings or recruiters might use different keywords for the same skill. You have space for 50 skills, so feel free to use it!
Secondly, you want to make sure your “top three skills” are relevant to the people you want reading your profile. These are the only ones people will see without having to expand your profile, so make them count! You can reorganize your skills at any time, and you should do so each time you embark on a new job search.
Finally, many candidates make the mistake of ignoring the skills section altogether and/or forgetting to remove outdated ones. Say you moved to LA straight out of film school and included technical skills like editing and camera operation because they were relevant back then. Now that you’re a few years into your career as a development executive, you should remove them – you don’t need to clutter your profile and confuse prospective employers with skills that don’t align with your work. Don’t worry if you’ll lose some endorsements from back in the day. These are not so relevant, and certainly not as important as telling a cohesive story.
Your skills section, like the rest of your profile, is designed to help communicate your professional story and brand. By keeping it relevant, focused, and updated, you'll be well on your way to a successful profile!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
LinkedIn isn’t exactly designed for Hollywood jobs. But it’s still an incredibly useful tool for our industry, both to find job postings and to manage your network. Here are 5 tips for crafting an effective LinkedIn profile:
1. Use a conversational, first-person tone. LinkedIn is a social media platform at its core. Even though it’s more professional than Facebook or Instagram, it’s about you and your work persona – which means you should write in first person and in a conversational tone. Use your profile as an opportunity to describe your work experience, passions, and goals the way you would to a friend. Networking connections and recruiters want to get a sense of your voice and personality and see the human being behind your achievements.
2. Go beyond your resume. Your resume is a short document that explains why you’re suited for a particular role. Your LinkedIn profile is a space for you to explain who you are professionally and why others should want to work with you. Yes, you can apply for jobs using your profile – so it’s a good idea to use some relevant keywords and include appropriate skills – but your profile shouldn’t be identical to your resume. Don’t copy/paste your resume, and don’t simply turn your bullet points into sentences. Add elements that you can’t include in your resume, like anecdotes about a particularly interesting project, or what you learned from a particular role.
3. Maintain your summary, or keep it evergreen. Your “About” section is the primary portion of your profile, since it’s the first thing connections and recruiters will read. You don’t want it to get outdated easily! Make sure you edit it periodically as you take on new projects, develop new skills, or get a new job. If you work on a lot of different shows or projects and don’t want to update LinkedIn all the time, consider a summary that doesn’t name drop your most recent credits, but instead focuses on evergreen elements, like your skills and professional interests. Check your LinkedIn profile every few months to make sure it’s aligned with your current experience.
4. Make sure your experience section is easy to read. Much like your resume, you want the most relevant experience to show up near the top, and you don't want readers to have to dig to find the information they need. In entertainment, it’s pretty common for freelancers to have a lot of similar project-based roles, but on LinkedIn, all that experience can be cumbersome. Instead of listing each show separately, you have the option to create one entry for all similar roles, with the company listed as "Freelance," and the dates inclusive of all the years you’ve had that role. This will cover gaps/hiatuses and let you talk about your experience in the aggregate. You can list out credits in the job description after explaining the overall skills you’ve gained and any achievements or highlights. Of course, if you are not a freelancer or have spent a lot of time on one project or with one company, it's better to create a separate entry and link to the company for searchability.
5. Tailor your skills section. The LinkedIn skills section can be tricky for entertainment roles, since some of the terminology is so specific. Sure, you can enter in skills that aren’t already in the platform, but that’s going to limit the effectiveness of your profile’s searchability and application matching. Instead, take time to read some job postings that interest you, and pull out some keywords that can match LinkedIn’s skills list. Think about broad versions of your skills as well. “Creating string-outs” isn’t on the platform, but similar skills, like “visual storytelling,” “storyboarding,” and “story structure” are. Make sure you select skills that align with your current career trajectory and remove any skills that aren’t relevant anymore; if you listed something like “film editing” when you were first trying to break into the industry, but you’re not pursuing roles that require editing knowledge, take it off!
Once you have a profile you can feel proud of, start using the platform to identify networking targets, keep up with your newsfeed, and look for jobs!
-- 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