Friday, November 8, 2013

On My Never-Ending Job Search...

When I was in my freshman year at USC I got my first ever internship off of a cold query letter. That's right, I said cold query and letter all in the same sentence, unironically, with positive results. This was back when the internet and email were extremely common but not so detailed-filled you could stalk everyone and every company. I picked up a copy of an actual magazine in order to get the studio address for the place I wanted to work and then I sent off a copy of my resume with a tailored cover letter to their specific HR department. I like to think part of what helped me get that first internship was not on my interest in the company and its programming (proving I knew exactly what I wanted to do at the time) but also that I had the ingenuity and initiative to track down the proper people to which to even submit myself.

Nowadays, though-- less than a decade later, I must point out-- everything is done online and often most companies set up separate, specific email addresses simply to handle the sheer volume of inqueries and resumes they receive. Especially in my industry (entertainment), the information on how to get in touch with people is readily available through a number of resources ranging from IMDb Pro to Variety to the corporations' individual company websites. Since the information is so accessible, there is no admiration for proving resourceful and finding it: it is literally sitting out there for everyone. How do you think so many fan campaigns manage to send their peanuts and postcards through the studio gates? Since the information is so accessible, too, the tendency is not to accept cold calls or cold emails but to look for those who answered specific job ads or were passed along as referred by someone within the company. In fact, it seems like you better hope you're in the latter pile because the specific ads are posted online so hundreds if not thousands of people in your city and elsewhere can see it and submit themselves, creating a pile that lives in an inbox instead of on the desk of someone in HR.

I understand the position of being so overwhelmed with interest and responses you can't get to every one of them, but it has gotten to the point where I find I actually look forward to a rejection email-- because then at least I have proof and that my initial inquiry/application was received and acknowledged, even if maybe not even read.

So how do you break apart from the pack or head to the top of the pile? In this industry the answer of writing a kick-ass cover letter doesn't seem to be enough: instead you need to know someone-- or at least know someone who knows someone. You need the reference to get you the initial interview most of the time, too. In fact, many of the ads HR puts on various career sites and job boards aren't entirely accurate, just the basest qualifications and requirements, and many times the HR step is bypassed initially completely with the actual department heads calling people in, making the hiring decisions, and then telling HR to process the paperwork.

For once I am not writing one of these blogs with my own story or advice or even where I go off on seemingly unrelated tangents where it all clicks back into a central theme in the end. For once I am actually asking you: how do you break apart from the pack or head to the top of the pile? It is absolute crunch time now that I find a job, and I would welcome all of your stories and advice to get me through and turn this sucker around.


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