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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tips when applying for work

"there are no accidents" - Oogway, Kung Fu Panda (2008) 

Tips when applying for work in the film industry

Over the last few months a lot of people from various parts of the industry have contacted me asking me for work. I realized that most of the people didn’t even have the basic ethics while asking for work. So here I have tried to put together some do’s & don’ts when asking for work from a potential employer. While most of the tips will help people from all walks of life in looking for work, some of these tips apply only to the filmmaking industry. 

Do’s & Don’ts 

A: The CV

Following would be my suggestions for a CV. Remember not to follow these tips blindly but adjust to what suits your profile the best.

1. Make sure your CV is clean and neat and not with jumbled up information.

2.  Make sure your CV is updated to the last job done, I suggest putting a date on your CV so even you know which one is the latest.

3.  Have your current job profile up top followed by your work experience.

4.  Do not use fancy fonts that people can not read.

5.  You can however highlightboldunderline the headings even use colour if you want, but don’t make it colourful.

4. Just job titles should suffice along with the employers name and not paragraphs of what you did.
3rd A.D. for XYZ company on ABC project.
2nd A.D. + Casting,         ABC project       Dir XXX        XYZ company
and NOT
"I worked as a 2nd Assistant Director on the ABC project with Dir XXX where not only my job responsibility was being the 2nd A.D. but I was also in charge of casting and the experience was really fulfilling and enriching. This was done for XYZ company.”

5. If you feel you have to put descriptions, try and keep it to a short one line explaining what you did more on that projects. 
E.g.- 3rd A.D. for XYZ company on ABC project. Also worked on casting on this project.

6. Mention what kind of work you are looking for and are willing to do. You can also do that in your email or in your conversation instead on your cv.

7.  If you lack experience and are a fresher, mention in your email that you are ready to work as an intern, you can request for conveyance and food if and when the employer agrees to hire you. Be ready to work for free if you say ready to work as intern.

8. People put objective on their CV. Personally, I don’t get it, is not the objective that you want a job? Anyway people do it and they weird write stuff. e.g -

‘To Learn, Unlearn and Learn again through practical experiences and to be a part of an organization which encourages new ideas, thoughts and gives me an opportunity to explore in my field and use the findings to help the organization to grow with leaps & bounds, with a sense of achievement.”
To contribute to the continual success of the administration utilizing my skills in management and supervision.”

I personally dont recommend any objective but if you think you have to put a objective keep it simple and to the point.
e.g. - “To work with a direction team in the making of a film.” 

B. Communication - Email / Sms / Phone call / Meeting in person.

1.  In your communication with people do not address them as “hey ya”, “yo”, “friend”. You are asking  for work not chatting with your friend. (even if the potential employer is your friend)

2.  In all forms of communication address people respectfully as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ unless they ask you to address them otherwise.

3.  No short forms, in your written communication like pls, rds, etc.

4.  Improve your language skills for the industry that you want to work in, remember you have to read scripts, and converse with your coworkers, so be it Hindi, English or which every language is dominated by the industry that you want to join, learn it.

5.  If you use words like “want to be part of your Creative journey” in your communication, trust me you will be asked to work for free. (if they consider you at all that is)

6.  DO NOT LIE. You will be caught before you can hit ‘save as’ on your first work docket.

7.  Don’t CC, or BCC anyone in your emails asking for work, if you can not take the trouble of writing personally to each person don’t expect a response from anyone on that list you just emailed.

8. You can call, sms and request for an appointment to meet the potential employer, you might get the “I am busy” OR “not looking for people right now” OR “send your CV and we will figure.” Not everyone you come in contact with will give you work. Face that fact.

9. It is ok to land up at an office without appointment but don’t expect get a appointment just cause you are there, you can leave your CV behind and request for a meeting. You may get lucky if someone attends to you then and there. (does happen sometimes)

10.  If you are approaching people for work make sure that you always attach your cv (along with your email) OR  carry a copy( if your meeting them) Especially when you send your first email to people.

11. If the person you have approached has taken the trouble to reply, even if its a rejection or dont have vacancy right now, have the courtesy to reply with a "thank you and do keep me in mind if something opens up." type of response.

12.  If a job opening has been posted send your cv only if you think you qualify. e.g. - don’t apply for a editors role if you are an A.D and have no clue of editing.

13. In the case you think you qualify after having sent your email it is ok to check back whether they have received your email or not, just make sure you are polite while doing it.

14.  If they say they have received your cv and will get back to you, respect that and do not call and sms repeatedly to see if the position is filled.

15. Just because you got the phone no or email id of a producer, director that does not entitle you to keep calling or emailing, a polite check via sms or a email once in a few days should suffice, if they are interested you will get a call. 

C: Social networking sites - Facebook, Linkedin etc.

Here are some rules if you are using a social networking site to approach people for work. I am going to use Facebook as the common example but applies to all.

1. If you are using your Facebook account or any other social network to look for employers make sure your info / about you is updated. Don’t forget this does work like a short CV.  

2. Make sure that it also has the title of what you want to work as like assistant director / casting director etc so people know what you do. Also make sure its open for the public to see it. 

3.  Also keep your info updated of recent employers, especially if you freelance. It helps people know that you have gained some experience in the recent past.

4.  Another Facebook tip (specially if your looking for work from it) don’t put your pet name on it. Unless the industry knows you by your pet/nick name. Like in my case everyone knows me as Auggie and not Augustine, so if you do go by your pet name make sure your pet name is in brackets at least on your CV, for people to know who you are.

5.  Don’t post on individuals / production houses Facebook wall unless there is a post that says “looking for” or “job opening”. There too I would suggest that send your cv in a message or email, that way it is personal.

6. If the potential employer is kind enough to add you on Facebook does not mean you have to say “hi” every time you see them online. 

7. If you do say “hi” on chat be ready to have a conversation don’t disappear after saying hi. I know people who say hi and nothing else after that.

8.  Also if you want to have a conversation be ready with something to say beyond “how are you?”, and “what’s going on?” if you can not think of anything don’t start a conversation.

9.  If the potential employer hints right at the start of the conversation of “no work” at least carry on the conversation normally, don’t abandon the conversation without excusing yourself.

10.  Almost all production houses have a web page and most have Facebook pages, adding your self to them, or bookmaking them helps in case they post for a job opening.

11. Before you approach someone for work, at least spend some time figuring out what / who / where / what these people are, just visiting the webpage and seeing the reel online would give you a decent idea of the kind of work that they do. (not always possible but do wherever possible)

12. Definitely do the above points if you get called in for a interview / meeting.

13. These days smart phones connect with social networking sites, so keeping your details updated & in visible mode helps, like in cases when an employer is looking for people to fill the role they scroll their phone with the job title, eg - if a producer was looking for a DA or a Make Up artist they would scroll their phone using those as key words and the first few names that pop up generally get called.

14. Keep your details about you in the visible mode to public if your looking for work from people you don't know. I know of employers who search profiles of people basis job titles.

D: General Tips

1. Be nice to people offline or online & in person, this industry is very small and people talk. 

2. If you don’t get along, just walk away. 

3. Remember not everywhere you apply will give you work, just hope you get a reply from them. 

4. The more experience you gain the easier it will get for you to find work.

5. If you do get a opportunity, do make the most of it by working as hard as you can and learn the most you can.

6. Remember people observe and those people do recommend. 

7. Never say you know everything, No one knows everything, let your work speak for yourself. 

8. As freelancers you dont need the entire industry to know you to get work, impress 4 - 5 production houses to get you consistent work, that should do.

While these tips might help you look better it does not guarantee work, don’t treat these as the Bible as there have been cases where things done differently have worked for some people.

If you don’t know what you want to work as, do read Careers in filmmaking - Pre Production and Careers in Filmmaking - Post Production  to give you some idea what your choices could be.

Auggieism:- What do you say when Auggie is hugging a lot?
Ans:- Huggie..

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  1. Many sites have provided the guidelines for writing CV but these tips will help all the times i.e. online, offline, in person etc.

    Sample cv

  2. Social media and CV templates are the best tips, because it makes the job seekers to get into job market easily.

     Sample Indian CV Format 

  3. This blog is not about a template, but tips to keep in mind when writing your cv and applying for a job, its targeted for the film and media industry, also gives tips about social networking which I dont remember seeing anywhere else..