Something very odd is happening in Hollywood.
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As big corporate players like Amazon and Netflix move into the production world, they bring their corporate recruitment practices with them. Worse, due to mergers from traditional media companies like Disney and 20th Century Fox, the consolidation of the HR departments force them to take on the computerized screening processes that have challenged job seekers in other industries for decades.
What is a job seeker to do?
Simple: Learn their game and beat them at it.
Level 1: The screening computers (aka the ATS)
For most companies, the first level you must beat is the screening computer, also known as the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). In every job description, HR builds in certain keywords or phrases that it uses to screen the applicants. Usually, you need a 50%–70% match on the keywords alone before a human being will ever see your resume.
What’s worse is that many of these keywords may not fully relate to the job. Within each job posting, there is a mix of “smart” and “stupid” keywords. A smart keyword is anything that actually relates to the work itself, such as experience with OTT, MVOD, and streaming services or experience with specific programs like Dreamweaver or Photoshop. The stupid keywords are the meaningless clichés that we all hate, such as “excellent communication skills,” or “team player,” or “detail-oriented.” In fact, you may have read advice to take such meaningless phrases out of your resume. But that is a TRAP – if HR is putting those phrases in the job description, they must appear somewhere on your resume or the computer will kick you out for being “unqualified.”
Level 2: The HR department
Here’s another harsh fact: HR doesn’t actually hire anyone. It’s their job to CUT candidates. As such, they are always looking for a way to easily eliminate candidates. While they will look for a match to their required skills, experience, and education as defined in the job description, they are also looking for discrepancies to eradicate people.
Here’s the trap: because many of these in-house recruiters have less experience with the unique nature of the entertainment industry, their previous screening formulas won’t work. For example, most HR people tend to avoid candidates who have a lot of short-term positions, especially ones that might last less than 6–9 months. However, when it comes to film production, it is not uncommon for an editor or visual effects artist to only be hired on a contractual, short-term basis. If each of these are listed the wrong way on the resume – such as making each film project a separate job entry – HR will cut them because the candidate has an “unstable work history.”
Level 3: Hiring Managers
Interestingly enough, most hiring managers in the corporate world are open to being directly contacted by job seekers. The truth is they are often just as frustrated with HR as the job seekers. Hiring managers know what they need in terms of talent, ability, relevant experience, and culture fit. In addition to relying on your own network, utilizing robust social networking tools like LinkedIn make it easier to track down and connect with these key decision makers.
Of course, a lot of decision makers in the entertainment industry can be shy about listing their contact information. While this can be a challenge, there are more tools beyond just LinkedIn to get in direct contact with these elusive hiring managers. In addition to traditional networking, emerging tools like www.Hunter.io help people nail the direct contact information – so long as you are willing to put in the research work.
Level 4: Recruiters and headhunters
A valuable tool for any job seeker are the recruiters who make their living by placing people with the top companies. However, if you don’t have an ideal background or exactly what they are looking for, you may just get a cold shoulder. In a phrase, you are “sellable meat.”
Just remember: a recruiter may pursue you heavily for a certain job, even going so far as to ask you to change your resume to fit their particular position. Then they suddenly ghost you. Don’t be too discouraged. Save the contact for later and do keep track of their own website and LinkedIn pages; when the next opportunity appears, reach out to them again.
Cheat Codes: Getting professional help
The media and entertainment industry can be very different than most corporate environments, even though they are adopting the same recruitment strategies. Using a professional resume writing service that understands these differences can help you land more interviews.
More than just words on a page
The best resumes go beyond “just the facts.” A truly artful resume will capture your story, highlighting your unique brand and who you are. In the modern job market where employers base their hiring decisions on their corporate culture, they need to understand who you really are – and what you can do for them. After all, entertainment is all about storytelling; if your resume doesn’t tell yours, you are less likely to get callbacks on your top target jobs.
About the author
A former recruiter in the broadcasting industry, Donna Shannon has been teaching effective job searching techniques since 2004. Over the years, her programs greatly expanded, eventually becoming her acclaimed book “Get a Job Without Going Crazy,” which is currently in its third edition. Since 2011, Donna has been a full-time career coach and leader at Personal Touch Career Services, where she personally mentors all the team’s talented writers and coaches. Visit https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/ to find our more about our services.