SIX top tips for getting that first job after graduating!
1 Stop applying for jobs
Apply for work experience first, send out applications in much the same way. Many work experience placements can act as a “trial” for gaining employment with that employer. Do not underestimate the importance of opportunities of unpaid work where freelancers are employed, they are often only required to give a weeks notice, which leaves the employer with little time to advertise a position, let alone set up interviews. it is understandable when in this circumstance an employer chooses someone they already know. So the old saying of its who you know ring very true in this instance. So if a new entrant has already been in on work experience, then they will already be on the employers radar. Remember that unpaid work is an investment which is better in the long run than working at your local supermarket, save up so you can afford it. Perhaps if you do need a job to pay the bills, you can spend your holiday days doing work placements.
Perhaps if you see a company advertising for a senior role, you can use this as information to apply work experience- assume that they are growing or have a new project on. Research this and include what you learn as pat of your letter/email of application. By applying for work experience you will probably get a different type of response from applying for employment. If you feel brave enough, follow up your applications with a phone call, and get feedback.
2 Research companies before approaching
Use Imagine animation, FPS Magazine, AWN, Skwigly, Animation Base and other websites from specific animation industry publications or just google search companies. It depends upon which medium is your strength. You need to send the relevant work according to what the company specialises in. The stop motion industry has always been small, so I think that a new entrant should find it comparatively easier to get work in cgi or maybe Toonboom.
Compile a database with your research, ring each company to check the specific person you should be sending your work to, and check if they refer an email and web link or a DVD in the post. Do not start a covering letter with the sentence “To whom it may concern:”
Work experience, approaching companies by various means are a couple if many methods of networking. Use social media such as linkedin, blogging, twitter, it’s not just a fad, and you can follow as many people as possible even if you never tweet or post blogs.
In addition to this you should network in person, attend organised events, and visit companies in person with an example of your work on say a pen drive. Perhaps when you make initial contact, whilst doing your research you could say you were in the area and you wanted to ask or some feedback and advice, so you are not immediately pestering for work, but are still successfully networking.
You probably need seek out some expert help with your CV. I would contact your local screen agency, or Skillset their advice will be more industry specific than that of your university careers advisor or the job centre. Creative England run events and I have attended seminars and workshops as well as contributing back via writing Blog posts. Local Screen Agencies will offer schemes for specific for new entrants, supporting them get experience and employment, so they are a very good port of call.
5 Build up credibility
In the meantime, if you don’t manage to get some experience, you should join shooting people and then collaborate with someone on a project. These projects will be unpaid but will help make you more emplyable and give you the edge over your competitors by helping raise your credibility and your perceived reliability and this will reflect well on your cv and showreel. Filmonik and Kino London are great to get involved in too, as part of the world wide kino movement come together to meet like minded positive people.
You should also try Zooppa.com as they offer briefs set by brands with a competition and a cash prize, so this has a more vocational edge than shooting people. Perhaps if you can’t afford work experience, you can juggle a project like this and a paid job elsewhere.
6 Keep Positive
Don’t dwell on what you should have done sooner, or where your University failed you, but what you can do now to help yourself. An employer doesn’t want to hear how hard you have found it, understand that no one has found it any easier than you. Make sure you show how excited and keen you are to get a start and a willingness to work for free will show this. Everyone I know in Industry started with work experience and some I know worked as a runner for 2 years. I know it is totally frustrating that you have to work unpaid and self perpetuates how middle class the industry is, but if you are not willing, then there are 100 right behind you who will.
I was reading a great book lately Creative Mischief by Dave Trott which is also created from his blog posts. He gives great nuggets if advice, he says there are no opportunities, turn a problem into an opportunity. Opportunities aren’t going to crop up. You have to create them. I would recommend this book to any creative type, but if you are stuck in a rut, you can be motivated and inspired after this read!