In the last few weeks, I’ve received several emails like this:
I was laid off back in July, the 22nd to be exact. I have been out here for 3 years and have worked at 3 networks. One job in which I was a Story Assistant for a show on Nickelodeon(Irrelevant I know). Here I stand nearly 8 weeks later, thousands of resumes sent out and several connections called and nothing. My confidence is at an all time low, I’ve been on 7 interviews and also went to 5 temp agencies. Nothing has caught on at all…. I’m a college graduate but that doesn’t seem to mean anything these days and with the Entertainment business as a different animal opposed to the ‘real economic’ crisis going on in the rest of the world; do you have any advice for someone nearly as lost as I am?
I moved to LA 6 months ago, got a wardrobe internship with a low-budget movie a week later and have worked on multiple films since then as either a set costumer or a wardrobe supervisor. Two months ago it all stopped, no movies, no jobs, no money. I admit, I was spoiled with decent success getting gigs so easy but now I can’t find a gig to save my life.
And so on.
In July, 43% of unemployed people have been jobless for more than 27 weeks. Two months out of work is not that bad. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck for you personally, but you are in no way alone.
But that’s the economy as a whole. In the Industry, it’s not uncommon to be looking for a job for months on end, even in the best of times (which, I’m told, were the nineties, before I even had a driver’s license). It doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job, or nobody likes you, or whatever. All it means is, nobody is hiring right now.
First off, most TV series are staffed by May or June. If you miss that boat, you basically have to wait for someone to get fired or promoted. Then, the new job opening will be posted on the Coordinator’s 411. Hopefully, you’ve made enough friends that someone will email this job posting to you.
Literally hundreds of people will apply to this same job. The coordinator will only look at the resumes until she finds five or six qualified PAs that she’d want to interview personally. Because so many people are out of work, that means she might look at only twenty resumes.
You better be in that first twenty.
You have to reply to a job posting immediately. I actually have a rote PA application template, saved in the drafts folder of my Gmail; my resume is already attached. When I hear of a new job opening, all I have to do is fill in the name, and maybe details if I have specific experience relating to what they’re asking for, and then hit send.
With a smart phone, I can do this from literally anywhere, from the grocery store to the movies to my current job that ends next week.
If, on the other hand, you don’t hear about the job until hours later, or you decide to wait until you get home from whatever errand you’re on, you will not be in the first cohort of applicants, you will not got the interview, and you will not get the job.
Even getting the interview is not enough, of course. There are five other highly qualified PAs angling for the same job. The one extra show credit might be enough to put them over you. Or, maybe they’ve worked on a show with the coordinator’s friend in the past. Or, maybe they’re a particular race, gender, age, or whatever diversity check box the show needs to fill. Or, the opposite, if the coordinator is racist, sexist, agist, or whateverist.
What I’m getting at is, there are a lot of things outside your control. I know I’m being harsh, but these are the cold hard facts of this Industry. All you can do is keep looking. Or quit. Less competition for me.