When I was in the MCM program, I found the evening class offerings to be extremely advantageous, as I was able to complete several internships that helped me understand the skills I needed to succeed in Hollywood. I also learned very quickly that my college resume didn’t present my abilities in a way that was desirable to employers, so I had to revamp it completely to reflect the skills I was developing during my internships. After some practice, I realized that writing resumes came naturally to me, and I also formulated my own cover letter writing process that started getting me an interview with nearly every job application. My friends began coming to me for resume and cover letter advice, and over the past few years, I’ve helped many others ace their job applications.
It seemed like a good idea to offer services on wider scale, so a few months ago, my friend and former co-worker Cindy Kaplan and I decided to start Hollywood Resumes, a resume writing business targeted at entry-level job applicants in the entertainment industry. Starting a business has been a fun adventure, and it all grew out of my early days as a job seeker. Here are a few key takeaways from my personal experiences that have become part of the Hollywood Resumes philosophy and will help you land a job interview.
Identify your dream job.
To increase your chances of ending up in a job you’re actually passionate about, it’s helpful to focus your job hunt on the companies and positions you’re most interested in. Create a list of companies you want to work for, and visit their career pages each day. You’ll also want to network with current employees as much as you can. Both of these tactics will ensure you’re one of the first to learn about new openings.
LinkedIn is your friend.
You should always maintain a professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile to help employers find you, but with a little extra effort, you can maximize the value of the site. Spend five minutes each day connecting with everyone you know using the “People You May Know” tool (but don’t connect with strangers). The more connections you have, the greater chance you’ll know someone who has a contact at a company you want to work for, and you’ll be able to reach out when an interesting job posting pops up. You can also use LinkedIn to contact potential employers directly. Forming these connections will help get your resume into the right hands.
Avoid generic cover letters.
It’s pretty obvious when you use the same cover letter template for every job application. You’ll have much better luck if you can personalize each letter and candidly explain why you’re perfect for that specific job. Try starting each cover letter from scratch. Ask yourself, “What makes this job sound interesting to me, and why should they hire me over other candidates?” If you can’t find the answers, maybe you should reconsider applying for that job.
Align your resume to the job posting.
Always make sure that your resume matches the skills listed on a job posting (without lying!). It’s best to keep your resume clean and concise, rather than including every responsibility you’ve ever had. It’s okay to have a master resume that’s several pages long, but when you apply for a specific job, share only your most relevant experience, and keep it down to one page.
Give yourself the credit you deserve.
Don’t be intimidated by big-name companies, and most importantly, don’t let anyone make you feel you aren’t worthy of a position. You must maintain a level of confidence to continue pushing your career forward. If you’ve graduated with three internships under your belt, go for an assistant position, not another internship. This doesn’t mean that you should expect a VP title straight out of grad school, but don’t sell yourself short when applying to jobs. If you have the skills asked for in a job posting or are sure you’ll be able to learn them quickly, you shouldn’t hesitate to apply. Just because you’ll be up against hundreds of applicants doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the job. You’re smart, you’re motivated, and you’ve put in the work -- so trust your instincts, and make sure you’re not the one holding yourself back.
For more career tips like these, you can sign up for the Hollywood Resumes weekly newsletter. Good luck with the job search!
Angela Silak, MCM ‘10