Zero Experience

Katie writes:

I am wondering what my resume should look like if I have absolutely ZERO experience in the entertainment/PA world.

My background is in fashion, I have worked only in theatrical works (some stage managing). I really don’t want my resume to sink my ship. I’m a great ass-kisser and do-good-er, but can’t put that in there.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that Katie is the captain of a ship. The ship is called Her Career. Right now, Her Career is still in berth. She’s making sure that it’s seaworthy. The last thing she wants is to get out there on the open ocean and realize she doesn’t have a propeller or sails or any of the other things that ships need. (I know nothing about boats.)1

But the problem is, no matter how much paint Katie puts on Her Career, it just isn’t seaworthy yet. This is tough for anybody to realize, whether they’re fresh out of film school or recently transplanted from another industry (i.e. fashion).

If your resumé is so thin as to be non-existent, then no amount of fluff is going to get you a job based on that piece of paper… unless you flat-out lie (which I wouldn’t recommend). What Katie needs is to go out and meet people – the kind of people who can give her a job.

Most Bang For Your 'Buck... Eh? Eh?
Mocha Espresso for Steven S.?

Where do these legendary people exist? They’re everywhere.

If Katie puts it in her head that she wants an entertainment job and then goes out and hustles and bargains her way around town, she’ll find one. It might not be great, but it might lead to another. And another. And another. Before you know it, Katie will have a five picture deal at Warner Bros.

It sounds so easy, but it’s not. If you’re an aspiring PA in Katie’s situation, then you need to make it your 30-hour/week job to find a job. I’ll say that again.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE EXPERIENCE, THEN “FINDING A JOB” HAS TO BECOME YOUR FULL-TIME JOB.

Exhaust your fashion contacts. Exhaust your parents’ phone books. Even if your parents live in Duluth, they’ve got to play bingo with someone who went to college with someone whose son is the 2nd 2nd AD on FINAL DESTINATION 7. Get a job at a Starbucks in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, or Century City and get chatty with every customer on a Bluetooth. Drive around L.A. and ass-kiss yourself onto film sets. (Apparently, Katie is very good at ass-kissing.)

Are any of these a slam dunk guarantee? No. If they were, then everyone would be doing it. But as I’ve said before, Hollywood is an industry that prides itself on idiosyncratic “big break” stories, so why shouldn’t Katie’s be any different?

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. In retrospect, this may not have been the best metaphor to go with.
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7 Comments

  1. This is a great qtousien. Being a recent graduate myself, finding a job seems impossible. The biggest thing you can do is network, and social media allows for tons of networking opportunities. Each time I applied for a job (which I usually found on an online job search website) I would go to LinkedIn and try and connect with whoever was in charge at that particular company. This gives you two different outlets to apply, and an employer will likely remember your name if they see it twice. This will show you are interested, and it worked for me!

  2. My advice: slave labor. And not in the legitimate, report you to the feds kind of way–more so in the “internship” sense. After months of the depressing post-college “I’m going to the gym and that counts as productive because I’m working on myself” attitude, I dug through my contacts and basically offered everyone any personal assistant services I could give in exchange for, well, whatever I could get. The best thing I got was an agent at one of the big 4 asking me to do oddball jobs for him in exchange for a mentorship. Basically, I run errands and he lets me read scripts and has taken me under his wing. Since then, he’s gotten me a part-time reading job, invited me to parties with other industry up n’ comings, and has my back on getting me a full-time job at his agency. “But what about student loans and things like food?” you might ask. Get another job. And if that’s not enough, get another one. Be the 20 y/o, single-mom makin’ it in America prototype you see in horrid 80’s movies and just keep scrapin’ though.

    Granted–not everyone is as helpful and mentoring as my guru. Still, I’d say I doubly agree with TAPA and others who firmly advocate networking! And if pseudo-slave labor in exchange for a job down the road is the only cost, I’d say it’s more than worth it.

  3. If it helps Katie, a female in a position of hiring is also probably more likely to hire her, with no experience at this level of employment, over me, and attractiveness won’t come into play at all (well, as long as you’re not more attractive than the person hiring). Sexism isn’t contained to just men in power wanting to ogle women.

  4. The real question to ask Katie is are you an attractive young girl with a nice rack? Cuz if you are you easily trump my many years of experience.

    • With the right attractive / rack / whatever, you will be significantly more likely to land the entry level job with zero experience. This is absolutely without question true. There are some downsides to being hired on this basis which will be obvious (promotions are difficult etc). For zero experience jobs, cuteness sells, on average. BTW, this does benefit guys sometimes too. I’d say for the next tiers of jobs, being cute can be a bit more of a mixed bag sometimes. Good luck!

  5. I’d also suggest that Katie does some research so that she can revise her cover letter and resume’ without resorting to lying. I’m not sure what she did in fashion or theater but she needs to point out where the tasks are similar, albeit in a different venue.

    If she’s been assigned to work with A-list fashion models, she’s got experience dealing with Prima Donnas…Sorta like handling First Team on set. Organizational skills are organizational skills regardless of what is being organized. And getting that item that’s absolutely necessary but FedEx isn’t sure where it ended up…is universal.

    I’m sure she’s got strengths that can be played up completely honestly.

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