How to move your TV job application to the top of the pile…

There you are. Sitting in your house/flat/yurt (delete where applicable) wondering if it is worth even bothering to apply for another TV job when, despite hundreds of applications, you haven’t even made it to interview stage in the whole year you’ve been applying.

What’s wrong with me? Where am I going wrong? Why are my applications getting me nowhere? (NB this is not me asking, I’m talking as you now).

The good news is – here are the answers! A top employer on the Facebook Runner’s group has come up with some golden advice to help you move your application up that list, from being a candidate for the bin to being a top of the pile prospect.

This is her advice…

I recently posted a vacancy here in the group and wanted to give some feedback. We are a kit hire facility, not production, so our viewpoint is slightly different to most of the posters here. Our vacancy was for a permanent position and it remained open to applications for a while, not the usual few hours for production runner positions.

We had an amazing response and received over 70 CVs. Sadly, the majority of these ended up in our no pile because they were unable to demonstrate that they possessed the key skills we needed despite the posting being pretty specific.

We read every single CV.

We interviewed just 6 people.

Of the 6 people we interviewed, 5 of them came from this group.

But most importantly, the person we have offered the job to, came from this group and starts with us in a couple of weeks.

This is a ridiculously competitive industry, but it is hugely rewarding and those of us lucky enough to work in it understand what you guys are up against when you’re starting out. We are part of this group not just because it gives us access to job seekers, but because we don’t just want to employ someone’s friend, daughter, nephew, etc. Diversity is what makes this industry great.

It can be really tough getting an interview, and if you’re lucky enough to get one you still have to prove you’re the person for the job. So here’s some constructive feedback for you all from someone of the other side.

  • Read the listing, it will likely give an indication of what the employer is looking for and it may even be explicit in its requirements. If there are specific requirements listed, then you need to demonstrate that you tick those boxes. State this in your application email, especially if it isn’t listed on your CV. If an employer cannot easily find that information they will put you straight in the no pile. If you are required to be within a specific location (or within a specific distance to it) say so, how else will a prospective employer know if your address isn’t liste
  • If a particular skill is an absolute necessity, it’s a good idea if you not only say you have that skill but also demonstrate that you have experience in it ‘I am able to ……’ ‘and I have been ….. for 3 years’. If we can’t find this information we will assume you are unable, so we’ll put you in the no pile.
  • Be a relevant applicant; if a vacancy is in production, or crew, etc don’t state in your CV and letter that you want to be in animation. Straight to the no pile, because you’re not going to be committed to this position.
  • Attach the correct CV – rookie error. As employers we understand and accept that applicants will have multiple CVs for different roles they’d like. Send the correct one for the role you are applying for. If you cannot get this basic step right, guess what – straight to the no pile.
  • Similarly with the application email. Address it correctly, get the person’s name right if you have it, make sure the subject title is correct. They will be receiving many applications as well as their regular emails and if they can’t easily identify yours it will be missed. …and how would you feel if you were called Dave, when your name is actually John? The no pile awaits I’m afraid.
  • And lastly, if you are applying for a junior position then I’m sorry but your showreel is irrelevant. Don’t overfill your application letters and CVs with unnecessary information, we need to be able to pull out the relevant skills easily, that way we can put you in the yes pile!

I posted these notes a few weeks ago, so some of you may have already seen them. With so many of you graduating recently I thought it useful to repost them.

And here’s a couple of additional points to the above which came up during our interview process.

  • This industry is fairly notorious for nepotism, it’s very acceptable for a common contact to make in an introduction on your behalf, but it’s not always a good thing to get your parent to enquire about a vacancy / potential vacancy / progress of an application. Whilst it’s understandable that parents want to help, you’re grown ups now.
  • If you are invited for interview turn up on time. Don’t arrive too early, and definitely don’t arrive late. If you’re really early, find somewhere to kill some time rather than waiting in the employer’s office for 40 mins. They won’t appreciate it and it will definitely stress you out. You won’t be at your best for the interview, find a coffee shop, go for a short walk.
  • Be engaged in the conversation, that means talk! Interviewees should expect to do 80% of the talking, interviewers just 20%. If the interviewer is talking more than you, it’s probably not going well. Make eye contact, sit up straight and be aware of your body language, remember we’re looking at what you don’t say as much as what you do say. We understand you’re nervous, guess what, you’re interviewer might not be the cool character they outwardly appear to be either.
  • When the interview is finished, shake their hand (please no limp wrists!) and thank them for their time. It’s a small thing, but it makes you memorable and shows maturity.

Sorry for the long post guys, but hopefully a few of you can pluck out some useful info! Good luck