Many of our clients approach us when they’re frustrated by a long job search. They’ve been applying for months and getting no calls for interviews. Sometimes, they just need a stronger resume, and once they’ve got the right document in hand, the calls start coming in.
But often, the problem isn’t just their resume; it’s that they aren’t applying for the right jobs.
Applying for jobs isn’t a numbers game. It’s not like there’s a magic percentage of applications you can send in that result in a call for an interview. In fact, approaching the job search by resume bombing any job that’s remotely interesting is going to result in fewer interview calls and more desperation, because your documents won’t be convincing to the hiring manager! Instead, you should apply strategically for jobs that align with your career goals and interests.
How do you determine if you’re applying for the right jobs? First, make sure you identify what you actually want to do next. Are you looking to stay at the same level, or are you looking to level up? What kind of company do you want to work for? What level of work/life balance are you looking for? Do you want to work remotely, in the office, or hybrid? What skills did you enjoy utilizing from your previous jobs, and what kind of work do you never want to do again? Make sure you’re clear on the answers to these questions, so you can vet job postings against them.
Then, you need to make sure to read job postings carefully. Consider that many job titles are alike, while the duties are really different. For instance, a creative producer job at an ad agency isn’t the same as a creative producer job at a film production company, and neither job is the same as an on-air promotions producer at a broadcast network. If you apply for every “producer” role out there without reading through the listing, you’ll likely apply for jobs you’re not qualified for or don’t even want! Read each responsibility and qualification and ask yourself, “Can I do this? And do I want to do this?”
If you’re applying for a job you really want, you’re also more likely to get support from your network. Your friends and contacts will go out on a limb for you if they think you’ll be a good fit for the role, but they’re not going to put their reputations on the line to refer you for a role you might ultimately reject or not qualify for. Beyond that, hiring managers can tell the difference between a resume that was sent off willy-nilly and one that was customized for the job posting and showcases a real interest in the role. Make sure you fit into that latter category.
Spend a little extra time vetting the job posting and updating your application materials accordingly – it will pay off a lot more than taking the time to fire off 3 more resumes for jobs you wouldn’t even accept
-- 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
When you first start out in Hollywood, chances are you’re an assistant of some sort, whether that’s supporting an executive on a desk or supporting a production. And being an assistant is a great way to get your foot in the door! But too many people get caught with one foot through the threshold and that’s it…stuck in Hollywood assistant-dom for years with no real advancement.
We don’t want that for you! Your Hollywood dream job lies beyond the admin stuff, and we want to help you get there. Our latest e-book, The Hollywood Assistant Guide: How to Roll Calls, Manage Calendars, Write Script Coverage and Maintain Organization on a Busy Entertainment Desk, will help you become a great assistant. And once you master the art of being a great assistant, you can hone your skills further to get that well-earned promotion. Here’s how:
Showcase your taste. When you’ve got a strong understanding of the basics -- phones, scheduling, tracking -- you’ll have earned the right to engage with your boss on larger creative conversations. A good boss will want to give you opportunities to weigh in with script notes, take the first stab at a treatment, make initial talent selects, pitch a joke or two in the writers’ room, or suggest a workaround for an issue on set. Take advantage of these opportunities, politely and humbly, and consider asking for more chances to expand your creative input. Maybe you can hip pocket a client, bring monthly suggestions of books for potential acquisition, or simply join higher-level meetings.
Initiate solutions. There are a million things that are backlogged in every office. Consider what processes you can improve or what tasks you can take off your boss’s plate. Take initiative to make things better and more efficient. For example, if your boss has been meaning to expand their list of writers of historically underrepresented groups but doesn’t have a minute to do the required research, offer to take that project on by curating a list of scripts from contests, fellowships, or peer recommendations. If your production office has a sloppy crew database because no one’s had the time to update it for the last few production cycles, create an easily-maintainable system.
Talk to your boss. Very few bosses have the capacity to remember to advocate for you – which means you have to advocate for yourself. Your boss may not be keeping a close eye on the calendar the way you are and has no idea your year on their desk is almost up. Make a list of your achievements and added responsibilities since you first started and ask your boss to have a discussion about your future. Explain to your boss what your goals are and ask for a promotion and/or growth plan. If you’re on a show or movie, talk to the line producer about how you’d love to be considered for coordinator positions on their next project, and mention this to other crew members in your department as well. The answer might be “no” if you ask, but it’s almost definitely “no” if you don’t ask.
Move on if you can’t move up. It’s possible there’s no room for growth at your current company, or that your boss will refuse to promote you (and even gets upset by the ask). If this happens, it’s time to get out! You don’t owe anyone loyalty but yourself. It’s understood that people won’t stay assistants forever, so you should feel completely comfortable and qualm-free about looking elsewhere to level up. There are some higher-ups who will consider it a personal affront that you dared to leave their desk, but trust us from experience – they’re not worth your time. These people will not help you down the line, and they will only hold you back. You’ve done a great job as their assistant, which was the maximum you owed them, even if they tell you otherwise. Tell your contacts you’re looking for a new role at a higher level, and adapt your materials to highlight the more advanced skills you took on in your role.
Be patient. There are more assistant roles in Hollywood than higher-level roles, and as you level up throughout your career, you’ll notice things thin out at the top. Not everyone can be CEO. It’s perfectly natural to have a longer job search when you’re looking for a more competitive position than when you were trying to get your foot in the door at whatever agency mailroom had an opening. Accept this and remain confident in your job search. If you’re strategic – targeting specific roles and specific companies, leaning into your network to generate new connections and referrals to jobs, tailoring your materials to each open position – you will get there, even if it takes a little while.
You can get and do deserve your Hollywood dream job and to move beyond the desk or past PA roles. Put in the effort to be the best you can be in your current role, build on that, and take control of your career so you can make it to the next step. And we’re here to support you every step of the way.
-- 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