Now that Atlanta has more film production than Hollywood, an influx of job seekers eager to get in on the production action - whether film, television or video industries - are arriving in Atlanta every day. Add graduates coming out of area universities and schools and the market has become saturated with talented individuals seeking work.
If you want to succeed, some time and effort on your part will go a long way in landing a job - perhaps your first ever, or your first one in Atlanta.
My first suggestion for everyone is to network. I seldom hire anyone that 1). I haven't personally met or 2). doesn't have a recommendation of someone I know. This is an industry of connections. The best place to make connections is at industry trade group meetings held by dozens of organizations and user groups each month.
But before you network, you need to have your resume in order. Let's take a look at what I think are the key elements in job searching in this industry:
What do you want to do? This is sometimes the most difficult decision if you're in college and wanting to intern or look for that first job. Some production possibilities include:
• Camera Operator
• Grip or gaffer
• Production Assistant
Pick the area most aligned with your education or experience. If uncertain, use interning as an opportunity to see if you like the requirements of a specific job.
Create a 30-second 'elevator speech' that you can memorize that succinctly and effectively tells a potential employer about your unique qualifications.
I like to ask applicants why they want to work for my company. I follow up with the question: 'what does my company do?' Quite often the applicant has no idea of our niche in the market. My advice; take a few minutes to research the companies you are contacting. Visit their website, Facebook page or Twitter feed and make sure they are a good fit with your skill set. It also shows initiative on your part.
Create a resume
Once you've decided upon a craft, create a resume that reflects your area of interest. You may need to create a different resume for different jobs if you're still undecided in a career path. A resume is intended to get you an interview - not a job.
Generally you have 5-10 seconds for the reader to determine your specialty and qualifications before they either move on or look deeper. My suggestions in preparing your resume include:
• Focus on one area of expertise and directly-related fields
• Keep the resume to one page
• List only relevant education
• Include relevant experience, not every job you've ever held
• Include relevant associations of which you are a member
• Include a link to a demo reel if you have one available or if it is applicable
Success in this industry is accomplished in part through referrals. To get a referral, you have to impress someone enough to recommend using you. But first you must meet those in a position to refer you. That's called networking. You need to be visible for potential employers to know about you.
• Networking is a key element to successful freelancing and employment
• Join industry associations
• Volunteer at sponsored functions
• Always ask for business cards when networking
• Ask if you may follow-up with a call/resume
Personalize your contact with potential employers
One of the quickest ways for your resume or inquiry to find the garbage can is to send "bulk" quantities out to your potential employers. If you don't have the time to personally address your inquires, don't expect any personal response.
Realize companies often receive dozens of resumes each day. Your resume needs to stand out from the crowd. Personalizing your resume and cover letter is one way to create interest - of course the content of the resume is also considered, but you need to make a good first impression. Bad first impressions are very difficult to overcome. Therefore:
• Create a cover letter specifically for your potential employer
• Never, ever send bulk e-mails with your resume
• Avoid writing “to whom it concerns”
• Always know who the letter needs to be addressed to and their title
Prepare for the interview (or phone call)
Following simple steps can improve your chances for being brought on board. Consider questions the employer may ask about your experience and work ethic.
• Be on time
• Dress appropriately (maybe a bit too nice)
• Why do you want to work for this company?
• What assets do you bring?
• Why should they hire you?
Show through actions your commitment to being the right person for the job.
• Always arrive at the job on time, if not early
• Be ready with any tools that are appropriate
• Dress appropriately
• Be professional
• Be the last to leave
As an independent contractor, you're running your own business.
• Have necessary tax ID forms
• Know payment terms
• Set up separate checking account
• Obtain appropriate licenses and insurance
• Keep accurate records
• If you need help, get advice on setting up business
If what you're currently doing is not producing results - change what you're doing. Make sure you:
• Know your job
• Network on a regular basis
• Stay prepared
• Arrive on time
• Develop a reputation for excellent work
• Remember this is a business, not a hobby
Good luck on finding that perfect internship or job. Getting started is always the most difficult part. Remember: network, network, network. Be seen by potential employers. Be known by potential employers. The more people that know you the more likely you are to get a referral, recommendation or job.
Best Wishes - and remember to network!
This page also appears on the Forrester Media website at http://www.forrestermedia.com/freelancing.html