Top 10 Tips Part 2: Creative Careers

 
 
These next 5 tips cover things you should be thinking about now but will be particularly necessary when you leave uni. If you missed the first 5 tips, you can find them here.
 
 
In this article…

Get networking!

Do your research & tailor applications

Be prepared to work your way up

Look for opportunities

Be proactive, stay positive

 
 

6. Get networking!

 

Why?

Networking is all about getting to know people who can help develop your career.  It’s the most effective form of job-hunting with upwards of 80% of all jobs found through networking!  Particularly in media and entertainment, it’s often who you know that’s important. Companies tend to hire the same teams over and over – people they know and trust and enjoy working with.
 

How?

Don’t be intimidated by the word ‘networking’. It’s not about asking for jobs, just fact-finding conversations. Show interest, ask for advice and aim to build rapport.
 

Who?

Start with your personal network of friends and family, alumni, careers department and university tutors. Rikesh (RKZ) Chauhan  (Westminster alumnus, now successful musician and fashion designer) claims he would never have got where he is today without help from his tutors. Stay close!

Attend industry events, courses or lectures.

Social media is great for professional networking. Make sure you can be found, and find out.
Be found: Have a good LinkedIn profile, put your portfolio on Instagram, add videos to YouTube and Vimeo etc. Get involved in social groups and join conversations.
 
Find out: Follow companies & influencers in your industry, look out for jobs and events,

With personal networks like facebook, use privacy settings wisely – make sure a prospective employer can’t stumble upon anything less than professional!

How to start networking – HelloGrads

Social media: Create a positive presence and find out and connect
Networking questions to get you started – HelloGrads

 
 

7. Do your research & tailor applications

 
Don’t bother rattling off a load of generic applications – they won’t get you very far.

Thoroughly research the companies you want to apply to  – the work they have done, company values, culture and specific job requirements.

Then use your research to tailor your application and persuade the employer that you are the best candidate for the role. The trick is to demonstrate you’re a great fit with the company, both professionally & personally. Clearly, working for the BBC is going to be very different from a small innovative independent, and you’ll need to emphasise different qualities.

Find a hook – give a reason for applying that shows you have a genuine interest. For example, I saw your documentary on rare species of bird and I felt compelled to contact you. Throughout my final year at University, I have been looking into documentaries as a form of education, this one… etc. 

Show what you can offer their organisation – demonstrate your enthusiasm, how you fulfil the job specification and would blend with their corporate culture. Illustrate with relevant attributes, skills and achievements from your work and life.

How to tailor your application – HelloGrads

 
 

8. Be prepared to work your way up

 
However capable you are, you’re likely to have to start at the bottom and work your way up, but that doesn’t mean selling yourself short (e.g. working for no pay). Entry-level positions include runners, researchers and assistant roles.

Andy Kennedy (award-winning sound designer), who lectures at the National Film & Television School always tells his students:
 

 
You’ll leave uni with a great education and loads of skills, but your first job is to learn where the kettle is and don’t be too proud to put it on!
 

 
It’s all about getting on with people, showing you’re keen & willing to learn.

Working on your own projects is a good way to gain extra experience and potentially move up the ladder quicker, keep creating!

 
 

9. Look for opportunities

 
There are many routes in, so be resourceful and don’t give up:
 

Big company grad schemes

BBC careers, trainee schemes & apprenticeships
 

Smaller companies/independents

They won’t have big recruitment budgets, so you will need work harder to find opportunities.
Search the company website and social channels for jobs
They often recruit via social media, so have a good presence there
Show initiative and make a speculative application
 

Speculative approaches

It’s worth thinking about TV programmes you like, and noting the name of the company at the end of the credits. Google them, find the appropriate contact and get in touch, saying why you’d like to work with them. Be warned that emails may not get a response, so in addition, write, call, or visit if you can. Or keep an eye on their website for jobs. E.g.
Tiger Aspect Productions – Runners & Trainee Scheme

HelloGrads – How to write speculative letters
 

Jobs boards

Indeed – television jobs

Reed – television jobs
 

Databases

There are various websites that advertise TV and film production jobs, with databases to get on, to showcase your work and let people know your skills and availability.
Students say this site is the best for helping young people: 
The Call Sheet

Here are some others:
Production Base

Mandy

Creative England
 

Specialist employment agencies

Searchlight

YellowCat London
 

Freelancer

Set yourself up as a freelancer – you can start charging more as you gain experience
Freelance Toolkit – Creative Skillset
 

Temporary work

Maternity cover or work for a specific film
 

Networking, word of mouth

HelloGrads – Getting in touch
Networking questions to get you started – HelloGrads
 

Business news

Look out for developments find out who is expanding and likely to be recruiting?
 

DIY

Make your own movies and push your work out there e.g. YouTube
Think beyond the standard TV channels – Amazon, Netflix, and Apple are often looking for content.
Send a pilot to some of the fast-growing independent companies e.g. Leftbank
Find more options on the KFTV directory

 
 

10. Be proactive, stay positiveLife happy girl with heart - wb

 
Success can involve a lot of luck, being in the right place at the right time, and plenty of hard graft.
Research the companies you’re interested in and get in touch. Make iPhone movies. Try every avenue, it can take a while, so stay focused.
Use every tool you’ve got to get noticed: persistence, guile and patience.
Get yourself out there – don’t be mown down by the juggernaut of keen people!
 
Start now!

It’s an exciting world out there!
 

Good Luck!

 
In addition to the contributors, we would like to thank Andy Kennedy (sound designer) and Mary Kennedy (sound editor).

Andy Kennedy is best known for his work on Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Crown and The Imitation Game. Interestingly, he started his career aiming to get into picture editing, but concluded it was too competitive and switched to sound. It was the start of the digital era, and being resourceful, he taught himself the necessary skills, and has had an extremely successful career ever since. Andy also lectures at the NFTS (National Film & Television School).

Mary told us she wrote to every film editor she could find. Her break came when one eventually got back to her to say his assistant had just left and could she start that Monday. Only when she worked for him did she see all the CV’s from others who were far better qualified than her – but her boss had no time to chase them up to see if they were still free. That’s where persistence and luck can play a part!
 
 

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