Real Insights Blog

Best practices: Eight things you should be doing to land a job (but probably aren’t)

Whether you are a freelance professional or are just starting out, when it comes to finding a new job in the current market, you probably have become frustrated, disillusioned, and just plain exhausted. Stay positive. You are not alone.
September 27, 2011

Whether you are a freelance professional or are just starting out, when it comes to finding a new job in the current market, you probably have become frustrated, disillusioned, and just plain exhausted.

Stay positive. You are not alone. The following eight ideas will expand your search methods and help you in landing a job.

1) Get online, and do it now! Skip the giant job search engines that yield thousands of listings and no results. Look for sites that cater to your industry.

2) Narrow down your search. “Any job will do” is not the right attitude to maintain while searching for your next career opportunity. Make a list of activities you would like to undertake at your next position. Job titles can be misleading. Be certain to read job descriptions carefully, comparing your activities list with the job duties. Beginning filmmakers may find they have multiple talents, from reading scripts to shooting B-roll. Use these skills to your advantage.

3) Network relentlessly. Schmoozing. Chit-chatting. Socializing. Whatever you want to call it, you need to network. There are plenty of associations in your area. Find two or three and attend gatherings with other industry professionals. Be professional, but try to have fun. Image counts. If you look like someone that would be easy to get along with at work, you just may find a job.

Don’t forget social networking sites. Search for individuals that have the job you want, and find out what they did to get them. You can get the scoop on your dream job and polish your networking skills.

4) Research, research, research. Find out everything you can about the company to which you are applying. Not only will you be able to match your skills with their needs in your cover letter and resumé, but also you will find out if the company is a good fit for you.

5) Be fresh, innovative, and enthusiastic in your cover letter. A dull cover letter is just as likely to be dismissed as one sent by a candidate lacking in talent. You want to appear enthusiastic about your potential future job. Stay professional, but set yourself apart from the rest of the herd. What assets do you have that benefit the company in ways in which it hasn’t considered? Perhaps you have started a side business making furniture or you’ve coached a softball team. Think of several ways your hobbies contribute to your job skills, especially those that demonstrate leadership.

6) Be prepared for your interview and stay prepared. Preparation is key for any job interview. Practice your interview with a friend or significant other beforehand, making sure you are ready for anything. Be sure to read “Best Practices: Acing a Job Interview”.

7) Dress for success. The old adage is still relevant, but don’t think that means you need to wear a $1,200 suit to your interview. The environment should dictate what you wear. Wearing a suit to a grunge band audition can be just as imprudent as wearing jeans and a t-shirt to an interview for a law clerk position. Ask during your phone interview what style of attire is appropriate for the office and dress one step up. Appear serious, but not pretentious.

8) Show your passion during the interview and stay positive. Keep in mind the reasons you want to work for the company, and state them with enthusiasm. A well-placed line regarding the company’s last major breakthrough shows you care without appearing desperate. You want to show that you have a passion for the work and for the company and not just a yearning for a paycheck. By the same token, it is crucial not to denigrate previous employers. No one wants to hire a disloyal person. If you left your previous job under bad terms, try to put a positive spin on the situation.

After your interview, send a note thanking the hiring manager. Keep it polite, but acknowledge that you want the job and highlight the reasons you would be a good fit.

Chris Palmer is the director of American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking and author of the Sierra Club book “Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom.” Scott Bastedo is a writer, filmmaker, and MFA candidate at American University.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.