These are crazy times we're living in! Chances are, you're working from home (if you're not -- please stay safe. Check out this page for helpful information about your rights). Working from home can be great, but it can come with major drawbacks. In fact, most of the advice for remote-work jobs assumes you can leave your house and work from a coffee shop or take a break and hit the gym. But that's not the case now! So what should you do to stay sane and productive?
First and foremost, put your health first. If you're sick, you need to heal. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you can't ask for the day off. You don't want to mismanage a project because you have a raging fever. But if you're healthy and quarantining for the greater good, here's some tried and true advice:
Don't work more hours than you usually would. If you typically have an 8 hour day, that's still the case. You're still entitled to a lunch break, and you don't need to have your laptop open 24/7. Do your best to stick to normal working hours -- this is good for your own mental health and helpful for keeping up with your colleagues. But if you generally find yourself more productive in the afternoon and a zombie at your desk every morning in the office, you can be more flexible about when you actually work.
Try to stay connected to your team. If you have a regularly-scheduled morning meeting in the office, suggest that your team continue that tradition through video chat. Keep your conference calls -- the more outside contact you have, the less isolated you'll feel. If you have a micromanaging or difficult boss, they'll probably assume you're doing nothing all day, so don't let them! In this scenario, you might consider sending a wrap-up email outlining what you did over the course of the day, simply to let them know that you're still on top of your projects. If your boss won't appreciate a longer wrap-up email, consider cc'ing them on messages you would ordinarily mention to them in passing, so they can see you're working throughout the day. Don't spam them, but make sure you're actively keeping the powers that be in the loop.
You'll likely find that without tons of meetings and interruptions from colleagues, you can get through your tasks much more quickly. Add the fact that so many businesses and productions are totally shut down, and you might really have very little to do. When this happens, you could start a project you've been putting off for a while. Now's a great time to organize your files, read that pile of submissions you've been neglecting, etc.
If you exhaust those options, consider your own professional development. Is there a show you've been meaning to check out, maybe written by a networking contact or similar to an idea you have in development? Watch it! Keeping up to date on pop culture as "professional development" is one of the perks of working in Hollywood, but when you're overwhelmed with deadlines it can be hard. So read that book, listen to that podcast, check out that YouTube series, and enjoy.
You might also consider learning a new skill. Now's a great time to enroll in some online courses. This could be to develop a skill that will help you in your current position or something that will help you make the career transition you've been considering. If you're an aspiring writer, now's also a good time to work on your script. Take advantage of the time you have now to work on side projects without sacrificing your current responsibilities.
Lastly, remember to get up and MOVE. Your back will thank you, and so will your mental health. The streets are still open -- imagine yourself as a dog that needs to be let out for its walk once or twice a day. Walk around the block (grab an umbrella when the weather refuses to cooperate). Getting outside for a few minutes will revitalize you and keep you energetic and healthy. Even better -- call a friend when you go for your walk. We may be social distancing physically, but that just means we have to lean in to social connection emotionally.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
If you’re looking for a job at a higher level than your current role, trying to break into the industry from a different field, hoping to move from one area of entertainment to another, or aiming to leave the industry altogether, you’ll need a resume that communicates that you’re capable of doing the job you’re applying for. The resume you used to get your last job isn’t going to cut it! But if you follow these key tips, you’ll be able to convince a hiring manager to bring you in for an interview.
First, read the job posting closely. You’ll need to assess if you actually are qualified for the position (overqualified does not count as qualified). Read each element of the job posting as if it were a question; “Communicate with multiple players to manage project execution” becomes, “Can you communicate with multiple players to manage project execution?” If your answer is “Yes!,” consider why. Map that “yes” back to a skill you acquired at a previous position, and make sure that skill becomes a bullet on your resume. If your answer is “No,” that’s okay, as long as you have affirmative responses to the majority of the qualifications. If you don’t even understand the terminology in the posting, reassess if this is the best job for you right now, or if you should take some professional development courses to learn more about the field.
Once you’ve determined which of your skills translate to the open role, you’ll need to make sure they’re highlighted on your resume. Your first bullet in each section should set the stage for each of your past roles to add context for the hiring manager (this is especially important if you’ve worked at smaller companies or are transitioning to a new industry). The remainder of the bullets should track back to the job posting and use as much verbiage from the posting as possible. Even if the majority of your job was spent doing something else, focus only on the relevant skills that apply to the open position. Your resume isn’t a biography, but rather a marketing document designed to highlight the value you can bring to the new company.
You may also consider adding a professional summary or core skills list to your resume to highlight key elements of your background, particularly if you’re further along in your career or are making a huge transition. (If you're applying for entry-level roles, these sections aren't necessary and mostly just waste valuable space).
A professional summary is a paragraph at the top of your resume that provides a quick overview of your experience and strengths and creates a story for why your multitude of skills makes you an excellent candidate. To write a professional summary, think about how you would define yourself -- if you can brand yourself with a known title (like development executive or reality TV producer) that's great, but if not, you can list a few specializations and the types of companies you've worked for. Then think about the primary qualifications the posting suggests an ideal candidate would possess and use that to fill in the last 2-3 sentences. It’s a good idea to tweak this section, even slightly, for each posting to highlight the most important skills you bring to the table and what sets you apart from other candidates.
A core skills/area of expertise section can also help boost your resume, since it’ll give you an opportunity to use more keywords and showcase expertise you gained from multiple positions. This could be presented as a simple list of skills at the top of your resume, or it could be a few broader skills with some bullets describing them. For example, you can title a section “Project Management” and highlight how you managed budgets and deadlines as a line producer on set in bullet points below. If you’re going for Project Manager roles outside the industry, you’ll have that critical phrase on your resume, even though your title of “Line Producer” doesn’t directly translate. Just be careful not to include soft skills in this list -- things like “excellent communicator” or “team player” are easy to say and hard to prove. If you list a skill in this section, make sure it’s backed up by a tangible description in your resume.
You might also consider a functional resume, especially if you’ve had a lot of freelance positions and are looking for a corporate role in a different area of the industry or a different industry altogether. This resume focuses more on general areas of expertise and achievements than a chronology. This is often a last resort, since employers like to see a clear timeline, but it can help keep your resume from becoming four pages long or too repetitive. In particular, a functional resume can be a helpful alternative if you’ve worked on multiple projects in a year, returned to a series for multiple seasons, or if you’ve consulted for a variety of clients in a similar capacity.
Regardless of how you tackle it, make sure your resume is tailored to the job posting. Show the hiring managers exactly what they're hoping to see, and leave off the extra stuff. You might have to dig deep to remember experiences and skills that will translate to the new role, but if you can mimic the job posting as much as possible, you'll have the best shot at getting through that first hurdle of making a successful transition.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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