Can’t Find a Job in Entertainment? Maybe it’s you

job in entertainment

Struggling to find a job? Maybe it’s you… (Photo Courtesy: NPR.org)

Harsh headline. Kind of stings a little doesn’t it?

Here’s the deal, if you can’t find a job it’s time to get real. Chances are you’ve graduated school and your parents are ready for you to start cooking your own meals…at your own place. Or maybe you’ve recently become unemployed (sorry about that) and you are feeling down and mired in self-loathing.

Well knock it off. It’s time to be critical of yourself and look at why you can’t find a job in entertainment.

(This is where you jump off the couch and sing the Rocky theme song in your head – I do this when I have writers block)

I interview entertainment industry veterans all the time and one question I always ask is, “what is missing from the majority of people you interview?” The answers are vast, but some common themes appear. So buck up, find out of you fit these critiques and set a plan to change them.

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A Lack of Basic Knowledge

We had a saying when I worked in sports television, ‘to be hired you should have to prove you have a knowledge of sports and television.’ Real insightful. But you’d be surprised how many candidates don’t have the proper knowledge to do the jobs they call their dream.

can't find a job in entertainment neal barton has advice

I’m guessing Neal Barton will also suggest you have a strong Point of View. (Photo Courtesy: KETK)

Neal Barton, News Director at KETK in Tyler, Texas places the blame partly on the educators, “the teachers have not worked in the biz in years. Kids don’t know how a bill is passed, the difference between a state and federal judge or sheriff or police chief. That’s what I spend the first two years teaching.

“You can teach them to shoot and edit in two weeks. They just don’t know the basics.”

New Mindset: Keep learning. Take a class, read more, watch videos…there is a world of answers out there.

Unrealistic Expectations

“Just get your foot in the door”, should be the mantra of anyone who wants to work in entertainment. Your first job may not be exactly what you envisioned for yourself post-graduation, but a world of possibilities open up once you start getting a paycheck.

“Jobs in entertainment are rarely glamorous, but take the opportunity you get and have the right attitude in order to progress in your career. The hours can be all over the place from days to nights to weekends. The starting pay is can be very low. You need to be realistic about what it takes to make it, no one said it would be easy,” says Sandy Malcolm, VP of Production and Programming for PlayOn! Sports.

I’ve had interns who thought they were too good for their duties and literally said, “I’m not doing that”. Wrong attitude. Stop thinking about fame and fortune, and instead, prove yourself with work ethic.

New Mindset: Don’t take any opportunity for granted, get your foot in the door, work your tail off and you’ll have a good chance at making it.

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Sometimes, It’s What You Say

If you find yourself getting interviews but you never seem to get the offer, then it’s time to dig deep into what you are saying. You may think you are showing all the right traits and the best possible attitude, but sometimes the best intentions fall short.

“Simply saying something like, “I know I can” or “I’m a hard worker,” etc. is nowhere near enough,” says 30 year broadcaster Paul Crane. “Young people early in their careers need to remember, no one hiring for any opening cares about what the job with do for ‘you’, the ONLY thing they care about is what hiring you will do for ‘them’!”

Hiring managers are looking for potential in the people they hire for entry level jobs, but they also need to see you have more than a just “can do” attitude. If you keep finding yourself saying things like, “I just want to learn everything there is to know” what a hiring manager hears is you can’t do this job, but you’ll try real hard.

willie geist today show morning joe

What you major in isn’t the biggest determiner of success, according to the Today Show’s Willie Geist (Photo Courtesy GQ.com)

New Mindset: Focus your interview efforts on what you do know, soft skills are important but if that’s all you talk about it gives the impression you don’t have much to offer. Show the interviewee that you have skills and will, not just one or the other.

Final Thought

If you really want to work in entertainment, it’s possible, the opportunities are out there and it doesn’t matter where your diploma comes from.

“I didn’t study television or even communications in any way,” recalls Today Show host Willie Geist.

“I was a political science major with a minor in French. My best advice is not to spend four years learning the technical ins and outs of the business. Just get smart in a wide range of areas. It’ll help you in your career more than any mass media class.”

Barton agrees, “Trust me, there is no difference between kids who come to me from prestigious schools or the Donald Duck School of Broadcasting. ”

As a proud graduate of the Donald Duck School of Broadcasting, I agree that it’s not just about the name on the diploma; it’s about the drive to learn in the person.

Why do you think you can’t find a job in entertainment? Get some free therapy by talking about it in the comments section:

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

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  1. […] age old cliche, ‘it’s no what you know, but who you know’ still holds some value for people entering a entertainment job search. But how do you get to know people in the […]

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