Congratulations…you’ve made it to the Merge and half way through my 10 Tips for Getting Your First Job In TV. If you haven’t read Part 1 then you can access that blog post HERE. Otherwise read on for my final five tips…
6. DIG DEEP…
Get emailing and don’t stop: Once you’re armed with email addresses and you’ve got your CV ready to go, then you need to get typing. Your emails should be tailored to each person, avoid “To Whom It May Concern” where possible (it sounds super formal and impersonal) and never copy and paste a standard email template – nothing says you couldn’t care less like a generic email and, in such a competitive industry, it’s a good way to get your CV filed straight to the bin.
You should make reference to the TV shows made by their company or reference how you got their details ESPECIALLY if it was through a mutual friend/acquaintance (it’s a good idea to check that this person is happy for you to name drop first). Keep your email brief and to the point and make sure you include your contact details in your email signature (make it easy for them to get in touch). Keep it professional but don’t be too formal (TV is a fairly casual industry).
Above all, don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back – production managers are always busy and while you are agonising over the email you’ve just sent, for them it is just one of hundreds going through their inbox on any given day and as amazing as you probably are – getting back to you is probably not at the top of their priority list. Don’t take it personally. It’s definitely worth getting in touch again a month or so later…just because they didn’t get back to you then doesn’t mean they won’t ever get back to you. Timing is everything and if your email lands when they are desperate for runners and all their usual crew are booked up – you may just get a call and hear those words “YOU WIN REWARD” (but probably something less dramatic that indicates you’ve got the job).
7. KNOW WHEN TO MAKE YOUR MOVE…
Timing is everything: While you may not be in the know of what shows are crewing, you can use a bit of common sense to increase the chances of your email being acknowledged. I would suggest that you try and stick to sending emails between Tuesday and Thursday and during business hours. If you send it between 10am and 4pm you stand the best chance of it landing while they’re at their desk and that’s exactly what you want.
Mondays and Fridays are typically bad days for sending a CV. The first and last days of the week are usually hectic and once the work is done on Friday then usually people have the weekend on their mind (or getting a call sheet out for a Monday shoot!). Emails sent on the weekend and after hours run the risk of being lost – a lot of people have emails on their phones and while they may open it, they’re probably in the middle of something much more exciting to even finish reading it or give it a second thought. I guess sending a mistimed email is like being sent to Exile Island for a while…it’s a setback BUT at least you’re still in the game!
8. HAVE A STRATEGY…
Create a database of contacts: If you’re playing the long game then you need to have a strategy. I have to admit I’m an organiser and I love an Excel spreadsheet so this comes naturally but I would highly recommend that if you’re starting out that you create a spreadsheet that lists all of your contacts – include their name, production company, role, phone number and email address (you may not have all the details but include what you do know – you can always add to it) and make a note of the date you contact them, how you’ve been in touch and the outcome – ie. Emailed 12/12 – responded to advise no opportunities at the moment but could be in the new year.
It may seem funny at first while you don’t have many contacts but you will find that the number will soon grow and when you’re sending hundreds of emails, it’s important that you keep track of it all. The last thing you want to do is get someone offside by hassling them too many times or missing an opportunity by forgetting to follow up at a later date. Just be aware that production contacts can be freelance too, so their work emails can change as they move to different companies…yep a good old fashioned drop your buffs situation.
9. YOU GOTTA HUSTLE…
Take advantage of opportunities: When you’re sending out your emails – sometimes you won’t get a response. Be prepared for this and don’t let it get to you. Keep trying. Be persistent, just because things didn’t go to plan the first time doesn’t mean it won’t fall into place next time, after all…Boston Rob played four times before winning the game and he’s considered one of the best players of all time! Sometimes you’ll get a response that says that there aren’t any current opportunities but they’ll keep your details on file. This will happen a lot and it may seem insignificant but it’s a start and you need to make the most of this.
Thank the person for their response and let them know that you’ll be in touch again at a later date. If they’ve indicated in their email when they’re more likely to be crewing up then make note of it – if they passed on your CV to someone that’s great – if they have provided an alternative contact for you…that’s even better. The key is to follow up…not to the point where you’re borderline spamming but every 6-8 weeks is fine. Try to have a new reason to be contacting (Ie. You mentioned that you may be crewing up in March so just wanted to follow up).
10. ONCE YOUR FIRE IS GONE – SO ARE YOU…
Back yourself, stay passionate and keep at it: No one won Survivor by quitting. Trying to get into TV can be soul-destroying but persistence does pay off. It’s hard when you feel like you have so much to offer but no one will give you a chance to prove yourself. It’s important that you remember how much you want it – if you honestly feel like this is 100 per cent what you want to do with your life and that you wouldn’t be satisfied settling for any other career then you should keep trying. There were moments when I questioned what I was doing and whether I should just give up and take the easy option but I had to remind myself every day to trust my instincts and follow my passion.
Almost four years on since landing my first contract in TV – I’m exactly where I want to be. I’ve ticked off some of my all time dream shows and can honestly say I’m doing what I love. It isn’t an easy road but starting out really is the hardest part – with a bit of hustle, a lot of patience and a good attitude you can get there.
Remember, the game starts when you hit the beach, so hit the ground running and make the most of every opportunity because a career in TV is definitely worth playing for!
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Want to know what you can expect from your first year in TV? Check out my post 5 Awesome Entry-Level Jobs You Never Knew Existed In TV.