You’ve heard us say it before, but in Hollywood, it’s hard to get a job by simply submitting your resume through a job portal. In this competitive industry, you’ve got to take an extra step to get your resume into a real person’s hands. In fact, the majority of positions are filled through referrals, as hiring managers like to mitigate risk by hiring candidates who have been vetted by their contacts first. Even if you have great application materials, you’ll be at a disadvantage to those who've found an “in” at a company. So, how do you become the person with the “in”? Here are four strategies we’ve found effective:
1. Build your network. Regardless of whether or not there is an immediate position of interest, you should work to build your network to increase the chances that you will know someone who knows someone the day your dream job opens up. Request informational interviews, attend networking mixers, get in touch with your college alumni network, and build strong rapport with the people you currently work with, both in and outside of your organization. This piece is key to getting your resume into the hiring manager’s hands and will make your career easier in general. But onto more immediate strategies…
2. Tell your friends. If you are looking for a specific type of role, tell your friends that you are on the hunt. You never know when they’ll have heard of something that just popped up, and while it’s not always fun to talk shop with your friends, they are the ones who will look out for you. If you’re hunting for a new job, get in the habit of mentioning it in conversation.
3. Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the perfect resource for finding out who knows who at a particular company. If you haven’t cultivated a strong LinkedIn network, use the “People You May Know” tool to build up your connections to at least 500. This will increase your chances of having a second-degree connection with someone. It’s usually relatively easy to identify a hiring manager or member of the department with the open role on LinkedIn, and you can work from there to try to find someone who can refer you directly to the recruiter or hiring manager. If you don’t find a 100% clear cut connection but have a friend that might know someone at a company of interest, reach out and see if you can find some sort of path to send your resume down. And don’t stop at one person – if you find multiple ways into a company, leverage them. The more people advocating for you, the better. But if you really can’t find any connections to the company…
4. Try cold outreach. Cold outreach can be hit or miss, but it’s worth a shot if you’re applying for your dream job and don’t have other options. Just be strategic with who you are reaching out to – if you send a cold email to someone in the IT department and are looking for a development job, they don’t have much incentive to pass your resume along, even on the off chance that they did know the person hiring. In this case, you need to target recruiters or feel pretty confident that you know who you’d be reporting to. You can find email addresses or email formats through tracking boards or by googling “@companyname.com press release.” Just be very clear, professional, and polite in your email, and don’t get upset if you don’t hear back. Note that cold emails are rarely effective if there isn’t an available role.
Keep in mind that sometimes, these strategies won’t work. But you’ll find that you have a lot more success at securing interviews if you can take the extra step of getting your resume into a real person’s hands.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan