How to Get Hired as a Video Professional
There are many outlets for employment in the video industry, it’s simply a matter of positioning yourself so you are visible and well-represented to employers. Here’s how to get hired as a video professional.
Sometimes, we find ourselves searching for work in a certain niche that we think we belong in, but it’s important you don’t let preconceived notions limit your access to quality opportunities. For example, many of us come out of school certain that we will become professional, classically-defined filmmakers but, frankly, those jobs are limited.
If you haven’t already, consider other kinds of production, like commercials, reality television, or even corporate marketing and training videos. There are many opportunities to be creative and produce beautiful work in areas you may not be thinking about (often with the added bonus of a more preferable work/life balance).
Image from SXSW
Regardless of your field, the single best way to get work is through people you know. This has proven true for me and those I know time and again. Start early and don’t ever stop!
In fact, I wish I would have been more intentional about networking earlier in my life. Even if you are still in school, use that opportunity to create connections! You are surrounded by a built-in network of people who are preparing themselves to go out into the work force. They may not be a professional resource in the near term, but foster relationships with people who are smart and who are driven, or who you find common ground with, because, down the line, those relationships will be very valuable when you are looking for employment.
Networking in school is a less formal version of the practice, but the value is that you can foster the relationship on a personal level without any of the baggage of the quid pro quo nature of most professional interactions. Relying on family members can be a mixed bag, but often reaching out to relatives can be beneficial, too (they should have a vested interest in your success, after all!).
If you are post-graduation, don’t give up on tapping into that network. Get involved in alumni organizations or reach out to the career center at your school and ask them for ideas for organizations or clubs to join. Connect with old friends online and, if they are working in your field, reach out to them.
Image from Shutterstock
The goal can’t always be to find a job directly from those in your network. A great way to utilize those you’re connected to is to ask them for “warm introductions” to people that may be in their network. Look at their LinkedIn profiles to see who they are connected to and if you find anyone who you may be interested in meeting, ask them to write a simple email of introduction. The recipient will be far more likely to talk to you or help you out if they know you have a mutual connection.
For professional networking events, look on Facebook, LinkedIn, or MeetUp.com for industry organizations in your area. Good keywords in this search are “[Your Town] Producer’s Association” or “Filmmaker’s Group.” Find an open meeting or networking event, bring your business cards, and show up! For nearly all of us, networking is unpleasant. The hardest part is making yourself actually show up and walk through the door, but once you are there, you’ll find others that are happy to talk to you (because they’re uncomfortable, too!). In fact, a great ice breaker can be, “Man, I always feel so awkward at these, don’t you?”
If you’re not comfortable talking about yourself, be prepared to ask questions of others. In fact, it’s good practice to have a few prepared questions you can ask others about themselves. It helps keep a conversation going and some people really enjoy the opportunity to talk about what they do. How did they get into their profession? What kinds of projects have they worked on? If you hear something you can relate to or you’re interested in, use that as an opportunity to share a little about yourself or ask follow-up questions. Just remember, the more often you can rally yourself to attend these events, the easier they get.
Image from Bootstrap Bay
Producers want to find a talented crew that they can trust and will always be on the lookout for those people. Beyond networking, they use other resources to fill open positions.
One great resource is Staff Me Up, a production-specific, nationwide job posting site.
Image from Design Infographics
We work in a creative field and employers want to see a creative resume (if you are applying for a job that requires a resume). Submitting a plain-text Word document may not necessarily hurt you, but it won’t do anything to help you stand out from the rest either. A quality resume is an effort multiplier — it takes some time to do it right, but it will continue to yield you better results every time you use it down the road.
Take time to get the wording just right. You can find lots of advice about what content to include in your resume. Then go the extra mile to double and triple-check each sentence and the visual layout. Be sure to watch your spacing and alignment; we work in a visual industry and those who will employ you want to know that you can identify visual errors. Also, spelling or grammatical errors will irritate an attention-detailed producer, and may automatically disqualify you from employment, depending on the temperament of the employer.
If you don’t have a lot of credits to your name, make sure you have a well-written summary statement that highlights your abilities, your competencies, and your goals.
Your Online Reputation
Image from TIME
The first thing many employers will want to see is your website and portfolio, so make sure those are updated with your latest and best work.
Almost always, if you work in production, you need a reel of your work. Depending on the types of projects or the clients you’ve worked with, you may not be able to use certain collateral. Ask them if it’s okay to use samples from content they own. Sometimes you can use clips as long as you don’t use the original audio. If you‘re not sure, it’s best not to risk copyright infringement!
With regard to social media, if your personal profiles are public, you need to be especially careful. Just be mindful of what you are putting out there into the great ether that is the internet. As Susan Adams with Forbes.com put it:
Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.
It’s important to be present on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn because it allows people to get a better sense for who you are. Use these platforms to promote your work, if possible. Share production stills or industry related article or blogs you like.
But keep in mind that what you post can hurt you too (especially as election season rolls around).
The bottom line is that, if you look for them, there are opportunities to connect all around you. Whether it’s face to face or online, engage with others and be prepared to share your experience and knowledge. And don’t limit yourself by what you think you should be doing. Sometimes it’s worth it to take a low-paying Production Assistant gig if it means you can form relationships with new people you’d like to work with or get to know. Be mindful, be intentional, and don’t give up!
Got any job-hunting tips for your peers? Share them in the comments below!