Four Tips to Get Hired for Entertainment Jobs

entertainment jobs music

Finding entertainment jobs can be daunting, but the end result is worth it

It’s easy to feel helpless in a job search.

You don’t get much feedback, heck you might not even get many interviews, and before you know it you start believing that your true goal is unattainable, your college education was just an accumulation of bills and that you’ll never get the break you think you deserve.

I’ve been there.

I graduated from college without a job waiting for me. I sent out resume after resume, made call after call and eventually ran out of money without a job or even a warm lead.

Worried, scared and a bit disgusted with myself, I headed for the comfortable confines of my parents house and began working at the local mall. Just as I started settling into a “this is your life” malaise – the phone rang and CNN was on the line. My story re-wrote itself in a matter of days. Days I started to doubt would ever come.

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Before you lose hope, execute on these ideas I’ve laid out for you. They work.

Getting entertainment jobs has changed since my graduation date in 1996, there are more avenues to promote yourself, build your network from scratch and make yourself hard to ignore in the interview process. Here are four of them.

Begin With The End In Mind

It sounds like something Yoda might say, but in truth it’s a very straight-forward and useful concept.

At the early stages of any career it’s important to have a career plan, a vision for where you want your employment journey to traverse. Of course, it will change along your winding road, but having a plan lets you work backward from the end and discover the steps necessary to get there.

entertainment jobs begin with the end in min

‘Begin with the end in mind’ sounds like something Yoda would advise

Imagine your dream is to be an executive producer of a television show, we’ll you aren’t going to start there after college, but if you know that is “the end” you have in mind, you can create a plan right from the beginning.

Here’s how a career plan could develop:

  1. Use tools such as Linkedin to connect with executive producers in the television industry
  2. Request an informational interview or just a casual conversation
  3. Find out how they got to where they are, what skills they developed, what mistakes they made, what they wish they had done differently – questions that will help you carve out your plan
  4. Search for executive producer jobs on WorkinEntertainment.com and study the job requirements
  5. Make a list of the skills you need to develop to be a candidate in the future
  6. Write it all down

“Having a plan of where you want to be tells me you are committed to your career, committed to making something of your experience and in the end dedicated to doing the best you can to get there,” says Paul Fruitman, Director of Ticket Sales for the Edmonton Eskimos.

‘Being focused on a goal means you will hold yourself accountable for what you have to achieve day in and day out.”

Build a Digital Portfolio

I hear it all the time – “how am I supposed to make a name for myself when I don’t really know anyone in the industry?”

Some people are lucky enough to grow up in a film family, or have a cousin in television, but that is not the only way to make yourself known. Whether you are changing careers or just getting started in one, you can be in control of who you get to know by doing something very simple – building a website.

Build your profile in the entertainment industry by developing a digital portfolio Click To Tweet

This website isn’t about traffic, monetization or sharing with the world what you had for lunch – this is about making connections and being industry relevant.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Think up an industry connected name that is catchy
  2. Buy a domain through as site like godaddy.com
  3. Use a simple blogging program like WordPress
  4. Consider making a small investment in design themes to make it look professional

Begin by reaching out to entertainment industry folks you think would be insightful and request to interview them for your site. If you ask correctly, I bet your response return will be above 60%. That’s not bad.

Here’s the basic template for how I ask, but remember no two requests are the same because I personalize each as best I can:

(Insert name),

I have a pretty simple request – can I interview you?

My name is Brian Clapp, I am the Director of Content for WorkinEntertaiment.com, formerly a TV producer at CNN and News Director at Fox Sports Northwest. I’ve read many of your articles in RadioInk and know that your perspective on managing talent in both TV & Radio would be great for our audience.  We try to help people find entertainment jobs and I know your advice and experience will help them achieve their goals.

I promise it will be painless – I’ll email over a few questions, you just have to respond back.  Please let me know if you are interested.

Now comes the fun part – make sure your questions are tantalizing, insightful, show passion, well researched and speak to your credibility and industry knowledge

Since you have started a dialogue with them and provided these great questions that allow them to share their expertise, its time to make this worth your time and effort.

DO NOT ask for a job, instead ask for advice.

Say something like, “I love running my website, but my true passion is to work in music promotions like you, I have my degree in business with a minor in music – do you have any recommendations of how I can break into the industry?”

In one sentence, you have let them know:

  • You aren’t desperate (you have this great website right?)
  • You have a passion for their sector
  • Your qualifications
  • And that you’re just looking for advice, not begging for a job they probably don’t have

You haven’t put them in the awkward position of feeling like the interview request came with strings attached, because you’re only asking for their professional advice, not an endorsement.

The idea here is to start building deep connections for entertainment jobs in your industry. In a way you’re building mentor-like relationships which are incredibly valuable.

If it sounds daunting to start a website, just remember anything worth doing is going to take some effort and once you do it you’ll be able to add digital skills to your resume.

Critique your Interview Technique

If you are getting interviews but no job offers it’s time to critique your technique.

entertainment jobs interviewing tipsanager

It may be time to critique your technique when it comes to interviewing

Sometimes being completely honest, or overselling your soft skills can hurt you in the process, despite it feeling like the right thing to say.

Let’s start with being overly honest – a common interview question that many fall prey to is being asked to ‘explain your greatest weakness’. If you are being completely honest you may say something like – “I get extremely agitated when I don’t think co-workers are working as hard as I do.”

You may think you’ve subtly shown how hard of a worker you are, but the hiring manager will probably interpret it differently; possibly thinking you are emotionally unstable, disruptive or a know-it-all.

Sorry it’s true.

The key component of any interview question is to balance honesty with solutions. A solid answer for this question would be more along these lines:

“I take a great deal of pride in my work, and strive to be the best I can. At times I can get frustrated with others around me if I feel they aren’t trying, but that’s where my leadership skills come into play. I feel I do a good job of turning my frustrating into a scenario where I can help others around me to achieve greater results.”

Notice you have answered the question, but also redirected towards a positive attribute.

If you are getting interviews, but not job offers, time to critique your intvw technique Click To Tweet

Lets move on to soft skills – one of my greatest frustrations as an interviewer is being told, “I just want to come in and work really hard” or “ I just want to learn everything there is to know”. My internal voice is actively translating your words into, “By hiring you, I’m doing you a favor, and maybe, just maybe after months of training, money and time you’ll be able to help our organization, but chances are you never will.”

Getting hired for entertainment jobs often means you are being chosen based primarily on potential, but if someone else has sold me on the skills they have and how they can assist our organization, that person is more likely to stand out than the person who tells me they “have a great work ethic”.

The goal in a job interview is to prove you have the skill and the will to improve the place you are interviewing. It’s not about how  the business will help you, it’s about how you will help the business.

If you don’t make that clear in your interview, it’s no wonder you are missing opportunities.

Job shadow

Internships are the absolute best manner to start gaining experience and building a network, but internships are usually only available if you are getting college credits – what if that isn’t an option? Or what if you want to do more than just an internship or two?

Job shadowing is a technique that can increase your knowledge, build a network and expose you to real-life work environments. The good news is, it’s also a small time commitment for the person you are shadowing, so that makes people more likely to accept your request.

entertainment jobs television job shadow

You’re never too young to start job shadowing

Let’s say you wanted a career as a brand manager in radio, here’s how you might go about getting a job shadow:

Step 1: Research local radio stations that broadcast in a format you are interested in. Find out who their brand manager or program director is and a little about their background.

Step 2: Craft a short and to the point email explaining why you want to job shadow, here’s an example:

Hi my name is (insert name), I’m currently studying broadcast journalism at (insert school) and have long admired the work done at (insert station name). I’d really appreciate an opportunity to job shadow you and learn more about what a day in radio programming is really like – it would really help me in my career growth and development.

Please let me know if this would be possible, I promise not to be intrusive.

I appreciate your response.

Step 3: Do not send out a request to every radio station in town at once. Be selective, pick a person, wait three days for a response, if you don’t get one try a singular follow up. If still nothing move on to the next person.

Go into the job shadow with a plan. Research the station, the persons background, their career experience and the common skills necessary for their job. Build out questions before-hand but don’t be locked into them, go with the flow.

Pay attention to what is going on throughout the day and ask intelligent questions related to what is happening. Think of clarifying questions like, “I notice that your sales meeting stressed long-term objectives, how do you balance long and short term team goals?”

It shows you are paying attention and interested in the details. This person will be impressed.

Final Thought:

These aren’t magic bullets, you need to do the work and continue to forge these relationships and skills. Connect on Linkedin, follow up every once in a while and avoid just asking, “do you have a job for me?!”

Ask anyone about getting hired for entertainment jobs and they’ll tell you the most important steps are having a plan, learning necessary job skills and building a network.

If you execute on these tips you’ll make yourself much more marketable and build up your name. Every chance you have to engage with someone in the entertainment industry is another chance to show your professional self. If you are prepared, carry yourself with confidence and exude fearlessness, all of these people you connect with will be more comfortable recommending you when an opportunity arises.

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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.

Comments

  1. Raheem Steward says:

    Thank you for this. One of the best things I’ve read all day.

  2. Kandi Adams says:

    Great article and great advice.

    • Thanks Kandi! I appreciate your nice response. Please keep reading and commenting – let us know if there is something you would like us to cover for you….we’re always trying to learn more about what our audience wants! – Brian

  3. I needed to read this! Thanks 🙂

    • Ali – that is great! So glad we were able to help – we try very hard to make our entertainment jobs advice to be fresh and actionable – hopefully these are things you will put in your routine! Keep reading and commenting – I respond to every one! (Although I did slack off a bit over thanksgiving – sorry!) – Brian

  4. This article was one of the best I have read. Everything was straight to the point. I seen my mistakes by reading these tips. I will take this and study and apply to the truth in me.
    Thank you so much. You Never Get To Old To Learn.

    • Bradley – I really appreciate your nice words, you are right you are never too old to learn! Glad we made clear points, that can be tough sometimes, articulating a plan with clean and clear steps…glad we accomplished that goal for you! Please keep reading and commenting, we have tons of great content on this blog! – Brian

      • vikram singh says:

        hello Bradley,

        Greetings !

        yes i really appreciate your word, you never too old to learn. Entertainment industry is dream and passion for me. But during last 16 yrs of exp. i was always part of Media industry. I want to learn and grow in this industry age of 45 . kindly guide me how i can learn and grown in america.. thanks vikram singh

  5. I have read a lot about digital portfolio. It is a great way to promote yourself. I still resist to make it tho :S

  6. Hadi Partovifar says:

    Great recommendations. I liked Job shadowing the most.

    • Hadi – Early in my career I did many job shadows, and I’ve been job shadowed many times later in my career too. I’ll say this – the best job shadows I have had: listened well, when they asked questions they were quality rather than quantity, and understood that they don’t need to fill time with chatter! That’s one of the biggest mistakes, as a young person you need to learn how to embrace silence…. not everything needs to be talked about! Glad you enjoyed the article – keep reading an commenting…we’re here for you! – Brian

  7. Hi Brian,

    All your advice is wonderful and well written. But what does a 57 year old have to do when he’s got a family and bills to pay and obligation to meet and wants to get into the entertainment field? I have a degree in Audio/video production but its in Analog. Ahhhh! I keep taking menial jobs just make ends meet along with my performance schedule but its still not what I want to do. The thought of going back to school to learn more of the Digital age stuff makes me cringe!! I’m not even sure where I want to start looking. I’ve always loved live performance and recording but my state of Colorado isn’t very user friendly.
    Thanks in advance.
    Joe.

    • Joe, first off I appreciate the compliment, I try very hard to provide solid advice based on my years in the industry and what my contacts are telling me. You do present an interesting problem – one thing you may want to consider is online training courses that you can complete at your leisure – that way uo can kep working and paying the bills while enhancing your knowledge and eventually marketability and job prospects. I know it’s not necessarily ideal, but if your skill set isn’t matching what employers need, it’s almost a must. Check out sites like Lynda.com – they offer tons of online tutorials that can get you back up to speed in your field. I’ll say one more thing from experience, after 14 years in broadcast television, I reinvented myself and began working on the digital side. It can be really energizing to take on a new challenge Joe, so don’t be afraid of the challenge…take it on! – Brian (p.s. I just moved to Colorado from Seattle about 4 months ago – love it here!)

  8. Hi Brian, i would like to ask about internships, i’m a 3rd year B.A Degree graduate student from AFDA University Cape Town. I would like to know how do i get started with improving my experience within the industry. I would like to start with internships etc. Thanx

  9. This was really good! I honestly really needed to read this. I will be graduating from college in May and I don’t know what my next step is! I want to thank you for taking out your time to right this article! You are a blessing! I added you on LinkedIn BTW! Thank YOU!

  10. Hi Brian. Thank you so much for this, truly helps.

    However, I have a unique predicament. I am 33 years old and have 13 years of experience as a news presenter, radio producer, radio announcer, tv host, voice over talent, emcee and webshow host.

    After exploring almost all the avenues within the media industry in my country, Malaysia, I would now like to embark on a new journey of exploring the radio industry in America. Is there any chance for me to get a media company to sponsor a work visa so I could be employed in radio in America?

    Oh and I have initiated contact with you on LinkedIn. Thank you in advance.

  11. Melody Rushing says:

    My passion is music, I love hip hop and r &b but I want to go beyond the performing and work behind-the-scenes. Where can I find information about this?

  12. Victoria Henderson says:

    Brian,

    Thank you for the advice. As a recent graduate from college, this article really spoke to me. I’ve been very discouraged lately because I have applied so many places, and I have only had one interview… far from what I dream of doing. I feel that I am extremely qualified, and I always keep my end goal in mind.

    If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful article.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article Victoria – I hope it helps you o your path. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer. Brian

  13. Thank you so much Brian Clapp, your article is very informative, useful and motivating.

Trackbacks

  1. […] say you already have an idea of who you want to be in the entertainment industry, start finding people that are already in that role and reach out […]

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