Job hunting is a daunting prospect for any individual, and for those in pursuit of a career in Film and Television (or any creative industry for that matter) the weight and pressures of success seem to increase tenfold.
Now, more than ever, graduates and first-time filmmakers are faced with the decision to follow their dreams or give them up completely for the standard ‘nine-to-five’ in order to ensure the comforting net of financial security.
The unemployment rate in Britain has been hovering over the 2.5 million mark since June 2009, and is only now (as of March 2014) beginning to decrease slightly.
So what do we do? Do we pack in the dream, or carry on through?
Before you decide, take note of these tips and give yourself the best chance possible.
1. Shine Your Shoes
I mean this both literally and metaphorically.
So, for the literal:
Looking sharp, confident and professional is one of the most vital things you can do in order to secure yourself a job. Regardless of whether the role you’ll be going for is formal or not, looking like you mean business is likely to get you business.
By all means, I’m not saying that you should get yourself suited in a tuxedo for that Production Assistant job interview you’re going for.
What I am saying is that you have to dress like you care.
It sounds simple, and really it is, but it is often overlooked.
If you turn up looking like you didn’t think too much about your clothes, you give off the impression that you didn’t really think too much about this interview.
Now, metaphorically, I am talking about your online presence.
We are the connected generation. The importance of maintaining this online presence is key.
Look around you, I GUARANTEE that everyone you’re looking it is on one or all of the following: FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, YouTube.
The best way to find out what kind of online presence you have is to Google yourself. Why? Because if you can Google yourself and see all of this information about yourself, so can your prospective employer.
Secure your online websites, or clean them up to a standard that you would be happy to show to anyone and everyone – not just your friends and family.
Even if you decide to go through the freelancing route (which in today’s climate, may actually serve you better) looking professional is still very much key.
Being your own boss means that you have to take on the responsibility for your own work, and come up with your own strategies – you also need to be able to sell yourself to others (metaphorically).
Freelancing is a fine-art and if done well it could make your career.
This is one of the most important things you can do – if not THE most important thing to do, in any industry, business or craft.
TALK TO PEOPLE.
Introduce yourself – and not just with your name. Tell people what you do. As filmmakers, we tend to tip-toe around the subject of ‘what we do’, especially if we are un-established. We feel like, “I’m a director/writer/cinematographer” sounds too pompous, as if we don’t have the right to have the title.
We are WRONG.
If you introduce yourself to someone as a director, they will keep you in mind as a film director they know. They will introduce you to other people as “My director friend, Joe”. Now, as long as you aren’t lying through your teeth and you have directed films before – be it short, or feature, then there is no harm.
Sadly, the way to work up the ladder isn’t through have the right skill-set (though of course that IS crucial) it is all down to who you know. People, and Producers especially, are more likely to hire you if they know you, or know someone who can vouch for you.
Having someone say: “Oh hey, listen, I know a really good guy, he’s called Joe, he’s directed a couple of shorts.” is a lot more appealing than a piece of paper with a stranger’s name on it.
And how do you get from being the stranger on the piece of paper to the “guy/gal they know”?
If you don’t know what it is you want to do in the industry just yet, then that’s okay. Good work experience will help you figure that out. Check out this article on how to get work experience, with no experience. And FYI, these three film roles are the most sought after in the industry, if you’re undecided on your path, go for one of these.
Business cards will be one of the most important investments you make, and you should get these as soon as you can.
Nothing seems more professional than your name and your title on a classy looking piece of cardboard/laminate/or is some cases, even wood and other materials.
Especially important in Networking, when you’ll most likely be asked for your card.
Can you imagine anything more excruciating than being asked that question by a potentially career-altering contact, only to reply with: “I don’t have one…”
Yeah, me either.
Often you can design them yourself, or find stylish designs online. My advice: buy them in bulk and distribute them all over the place – but be clever with it. If you are a filmmaker, or writer, don’t just leave them at the reception of the town hall.
Go to a Waterstones, Starbucks, Cinema, Film Museum, or even the Theatre, and ask if you can leave a couple of cards with them. They’ll very rarely say no.
As well as business cards, get yourself a website. It costs a mere £8 for a year to have your own ‘.com’ domain and it won’t just make you look professional, but you’ll feel it to.
Once you have your website, show off your work, your showreel, your experiences, YOURSELF.
4. Be Productive
Job Hunting consists of a lot of sitting and waiting.
Whatever you do, don’t sit and twiddle your thumbs. Job Hunting was never going to be easy, but it’s a slog that you’re prepared to overcome.
In your spare time do more research – whatever that might be. If you’re a filmmaker, go out and play with your camera, re-edit a showreel, watch films. If you’re a writer, read screenplays, write screenplays of any length, watch films…
Exercise your skills whenever you can.
5. Be Original
Last, but not least; don’t be a sheep.
This list is not anything new – just things that are sometimes forgotten. What will truly get you to your goal, is the ability to do something new.
Offer yourself as someone that your to-be employer needs but doesn’t already have.
Create a brand for yourself.
Become marketable – do not fall into any of these traps.
Everyone is different, everyone will have something different to offer – make sure you stand out.
It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always a happy experience, but perseverance is key.
Happy hunting – and the best of luck!
Not sure where to begin looking? Check out this extensive and useful list of sites, here.
Do you have any of your own 21st Century Tips to bagging a job? Comment below!