It’s easy to get caught up in that can’t-gain-experience-without-having-experience-to-get-hired-in-the-first-place vicious cycle of media job hunting. It most often happens to job hunters looking to switch careers or media newbies fresh out of college. Either way, here are some secret tips to help you land that first gig, so you can add some much-needed industry experience to your resume.
So often when people are just starting out, they dream big and only apply to full-time assistant jobs and coveted entry-level roles at well-known companies, but the reality is that if you have no or little experience on your resume, those jobs are incredibly difficult to get. Instead, diversify your applications and in addition to applying to those “reach” opportunities (because honestly, who knows?!), look out for some smaller, easier to get gigs, like one-day production assistant jobs, small writing opportunities, and student projects. Mandy is a great resource for small projects.
Accept Unpaid Opportunities (Within Reason)
Think of it as light volunteer work that’s easy to come by. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re paid or not, it can STILL GO ON YOUR RESUME! That’s the beauty of resumes: they’re just logs of the things you’ve worked on and accomplished, not detailed salary history reports. So whether you’re working at a small film festival for a few days or assisting on a student film for a week, make sure to include it on your resume. However, be cautious of long-term unpaid commitments: there is no guarantee they’ll turn into something paid and if they’re time-consuming, it leaves you less time to hunt around for gainful employment (which should always be your goal!).
Be Vaguely Specific
When writing your resume, there’s no need to broadcast how many hours or weeks you worked on a project. If it’s an internship, few potential employers care how many hours per week you dedicated to it, so if it’s a one-day-per-week deal or production assistant gig that only lasted two weeks, it still goes on your resume. While you can be vague about how many hours per week you worked, you should still be specific about your duties and accomplishments.
Soon you’ll be racking up essential industry experience and glowing references and your resume will have MUST-HIRE all over it thanks to all of your outstanding experience.