Learn what it takes to get an entry level job in the entertainment industry.
It’s rough trying to follow your dreams in an industry where you’re completely dispensable unless you have a very practical and in-demand skill. Looking back at my Google calendar, I counted well over 50 interviews in a 4 month period. To anyone who is an overachiever or works in a less competitive industry, this looks like I’m either too picky or just unemployable, but this is a common story for entry level job seekers in Hollywood.
At first, I thought it was my resume. I rearranged it, copied from friends who were recently employed, and even found online services that analyze resumes to have a look at mine. I kept on getting interviews but I wasn’t landing anything substantial so I assumed my resume was at least good enough to get in the door.
I read countless articles on interview questions and procedures, practiced in front of the mirror, and kept my suit impeccable. I felt, talked, and acted as confident and friendly as possible in every interview. Some were easy to tell I didn’t have the aggressive personality they were looking for but other interviews would give me a call back for 2nd rounds, 3rd rounds, or even 4th rounds. Still, everything fizzled out to further unemployment.
There was no one to tell me the magic of getting a job, all the books and articles I read were outdated, overly positive chicken soup, or were just good marketing wrapped around generic advice. Was it just luck? Did I have to trick someone? Was it the way I looked?
The answer was, and still is, apparent to everyone but to find it you really have to take a closer look at the basics.
My resume now and when I first started doesn’t look too different because I was trained by temp agencies and my internship director how to make it presentable. I’ve changed it to reflect the transparent requirements most people won’t notice.
My resume is divided like the following:
All of this should be at the top, your name on its own line in bold.
Your address should be in or around Los Angeles, you won’t get called otherwise.
Job Position/Company Name ~ City/Dates — Job Description
Immediately add your current or last job, NO section header, make sure your job title and company are styled different from each other using italics or bold or underline.
Make sure your job description has the most important and desired tasks in bullet form (i.e. Account for the writing department’s expense reports with EP Access while supervising the use of petty cash and create check reimbursement requests when needed.) Do not put skills here like “use a copy machine, get coffee.”
Only include relevant jobs, they won’t care about camp counselor or cashiers.
Education Section Subheader
University, degree, major, graduation year. (all on one line)
Skills or Proficiencies Section Subheader
Word — Outlook — Excel — PowerPoint — Google Calendar/Docs/Sheets — FileMaker Pro
This section should be at the bottom and mostly comprise of random skills you can offer this particular job. This is also where you stuff your keywords you found in the job description or application (i.e. handling mail, email corresponse, travel arrangements)
Why Does Your Resume Have To Look Like This?
This is carefully crafted so that it can be quickly and easily read, pass resume analyzing software, and it makes it easier for you to expand your conversation during the interview.
Many big companies and most studios have HR software that will analyze your resume for keywords. These keywords are in the job description. Copy them and add some to your skills section.
If you don’t know some of the skills but they’re relatively easy or easy to learn, add them anyway. It doesn’t take four years to learn to make coffee or learn to use a fax machine if you haven’t done it before so don’t worry about “lying” because you’ll learn on the first day when you say you haven’t used this brand or type before.
This resume will have a lot of white space, uses bullet points, and styles important information differently. This is to make it a quick and easy read. HR and potential employers hate searching for dates, your job title, company names, and reading bulky paragraphs. Analyzing software simply won’t read your compelling job duties or extra curricular activities and achievements.
If you’re offered an interview, practice questions, get dressed, go early and offer more.
It’s stressful to try to memorize the hundreds of questions they could ask you but typically they’ll ask you the questions that are most asked by any HR or potential employer. These questions will ask about what you’ve done, you reply with how amazing you’ve done those things. They’ll ask what you can offer, you reply with how much more you can offer.
This is generally speaking because you can just Google “top 20 interview questions” and they’ll at least ask half of those. What they’re looking for are honest, direct, and confident answers. They want to not only hear you’re the candidate but feel it as well.
When it comes down to the last two choices, they’ll say, “He has a good resume, but I feel this other guy was more personable, friendly, etc.” They’ll say this because they want to hire someone they want to work with, not just the best person for the job.
Surprisingly one of the most numerous compliments I’ve received is that I dressed up in a suit for the interview. Many people show up in jeans which means to HR or that employer that you didn’t even care enough to get dressed for something that should be important. Don’t be jeans guy.
This is also one area I’ve failed.
I’ve been to interviews at talent agencies and with high profile companies and top notch producers but I realized, quite instantly, they didn’t like the way I looked. A suit wasn’t enough because you’re going to be the face of the company or that person and they didn’t want a shaggy nerdy looking assistant greeting slick, polished, and fashionable actors.
If you want one of those highly regarded agent assistant jobs, you’ll have to literally be as beautiful as your work ethic (which should be a “willing to work 24/7 for free” mentality because the agency will probably grind you with their work hours).
The whole Hollywood easy going mentality about being yourself and that it’s not about the way people look is a complete lie. Don’t be yourself, be better than everyone as the most professional confident candidate possible. It is about the way you look, period.
That advice mostly goes to top companies, agencies, and producers. It is more relax when you work for lower tier companies or individuals. You won’t know who is who until you actually meet them.
How Do You Get Any Job In Hollywood?
Simply this: Be better than everyone else.
That’s generic and impractical advice to give but it’s the truest. Your resume can mostly likely beat 99% of other people if you reword things, add keywords, make it more presentable, and “fudge” some facts about your abilities.
You can do well in interviews. It’s all about practice, preparation, and looks. Arrive early, well dressed (preferably fashionable in addition to professional), and talk confidently.
The key to confidence is practice and preparation. Apply to some jobs you DO NOT WANT but you can easily get. They don’t even have to be related to the entertainment industry. The reason is that you can see your behavior is probably more relaxed, more confident, and you get the sense of the feeling that you could actually get an offer.
Need Help Finding Jobs?
If you’re tired of bookmarking every job site and studio job list, I’ve developed a website that gathers the most useful and important websites for applying to the majority of Hollywood jobs. Check it out below!
These are the best and most used sites for finding entertainment related jobs in Hollywood, relocatehollywood.com
If you think it’s missing some sites, feel free to message me on twitter: