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.
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
The job search can be frustrating -- especially when you feel like you’ve been submitting tons of job applications and aren’t getting any bites. But if you’ve sent out 50 applications and haven’t heard a word on any of them, it’s likely that you’re doing something wrong. Here are some questions to ask yourself that can help you assess the problem:
Are you qualified for the jobs you’re applying for?
Go back and take a look at the jobs you’ve been applying for. Re-read the job descriptions -- do these jobs actually make sense for you? Will the skills and experience you put in your resume prove you can do the job? If you’re an assistant applying for director-level jobs, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get any calls. It’s okay to reach a bit, but be realistic with your expectations. Conversely, you don’t want to apply for jobs you’re overqualified for either. If you’ve been an assistant for five years, it’s probably time to start looking at coordinator positions -- employers aren’t interested in hiring people who will get burned out quickly or start asking for a promotion after three months. Besides, you start to seem desperate if you’re applying for jobs that are too far below your level. Compare your resume to the job postings to see how well they align. If you don’t have a lot of the key required skills or are already doing work beyond what’s asked for, you may not be applying for the right jobs. Be a little more selective with your search, and try to focus on those jobs that match your qualifications.
Are you excited about the jobs you’re applying for?
Aside from being qualified for a job, it’s also important that you’re excited about a prospective position. It’s easy to spot a generic cover letter from someone who isn’t particularly passionate about the role. So don’t waste your time with applications you’re not excited about. A good test to figure out which opportunities are right: Try writing your cover letters from scratch -- you’ll find that they’ll flow much more easily for the jobs that really are a fit. Then, focus on those opportunities. You’ll have more luck if you’re going for quality over quantity.
How are you actually applying for these jobs?
If you’re both qualified and excited about the jobs you’re applying for but aren’t hearing anything back, you may be going about the job application process wrong. In Hollywood, most people are hired through referrals or promoted internally, so if you’re only using the online application to submit your resume, that’s probably your problem. Try to find a direct contact that can get your resume into the right hands. If you don’t know someone at the company or in the department you’re applying for, you can use LinkedIn to try to find a connection. Ideally, you’ll find someone who knows someone who can pass along your resume, but if this isn’t possible, a cold email can work too. Make sure you’re taking extra steps to get your resume to the hiring manager -- it will help prove how much you want the job.
Do you have a strong resume and cover letter?
If you’re doing everything above right, your problem is probably your resume or cover letter. A disorganized resume or cover letter with typos and poor writing is obviously not going to get you an interview, but that’s not the only thing that can make for a bad resume and cover letter. Do your resume and cover letter tell a story? And is that story one that shows you’re right for the job? You MUST tailor your resume and cover letter to the job posting. You should always try to create a new cover letter for every job application, and sometimes, you should create a new resume as well (or at least make some tweaks) -- especially if you’re applying for executive level jobs. Take note of the nuances in the job posting, and make sure your resume and cover letter reflect the core skills of the role. A strong resume and cover letter match the job posting and demonstrate why it makes sense for the company to hire the candidate.
We recognize that all of this may sound like a lot of work -- and it is. But if you can be a little more targeted in your search and thorough with your process, you won’t have to send out nearly as many applications to secure an interview, and you'll be less stressed out in the process!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
One of the toughest aspects of networking is maintaining relationships. You can schedule all the informational interviews in the world to learn more about companies and roles you’re interested in and follow up accordingly with a thank you note and some check-ins. But let's be realistic -- with time, you’ll get busy and let a few of your contacts slip away. It may feel awkward to get back in touch after you've let communication lag, but if you handle your approach gracefully, it's actually not that a big of a deal to reconnect. Here's how to go about it:
As uncomfortable as this may seem, you're going to need to reintroduce yourself. Especially when it comes to informational interviews, you must remember that you are not the only person your contact has met with to conduct an informational interview. In fact, an informational is likely the least memorable meeting a person will have in a given day. So when you’re reaching back out to these contacts after a month or more has passed, you’ll need to help jog their memories a bit. One great way to do this is to reply to the original email chain from when you scheduled the meeting or sent a thank you note (this is the reason that an emailed thank you note is much more important than a handwritten one). If for some reason you have to start a new email chain, you should give the person a little recap of who you are. For example, “I’m the NYU student studying documentary film that you met with last July while I was interning at NBC.” It might sound weird to do this, but it helps the person on the other end by not forcing them to dig back through emails to figure out who you are.
Starting your email this way gives you the opportunity to transition into explaining what you're currently doing. "Since we last met, I've been working as a development assistant at Imagine Entertainment." You can share a tidbit or two about your current position -- something as simple as how much you've learned, or if you think they'll appreciate it, a little nugget about how something they mentioned back when you met helped you. Don't kiss up too much, but if there's something simple and true, it's worth sharing.
Then, you can get to the impetus for your outreach. It's probably best to avoid asking for a favor for yourself after too much time has passed (unless it's particularly timely, like their department is actively hiring for your dream job), but it's within bounds to ask on behalf of someone else -- passing along a friend's resume or trying to set up an informational for a colleague shows you're willing to pay it forward. You can also reach out when there's nothing you need -- just reconnecting for the sake of it, or because you read something interesting about your contact in the news.
The new year is actually the perfect time to renew these connections. There's a good energy in the air to meet up for drinks and re-establish a relationship. And you never know how you may be able to help your contact with their 2019 career goals! That said, this advice does work year-round as well. It's not ideal to lose touch, but life happens, and it's good to know there's a fail safe way to maintain your network when you get too busy.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan