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Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail

COW Library : Business & Marketing : Walter Biscardi : Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
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CreativeCOW presents Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail -- Business & Marketing Editorial


Biscardi Creative Media
Buford Georgia USA

©2013 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


"As technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse." So says Creative COW leader and Contributing Editor Walter Biscardi, one of the industry's most respected business owners. "The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't."

You definitely don't want to miss this potentially career-changing advice from an industry luminary!



A pile of resumes at my company showed me that as technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse. The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo. This is the world of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc..... where everything is said in 140 characters or less, with a heavily treated photo and no attenshun givun 2 correct grammar yo! Seems people have forgotten how to represent themselves professionally for that all important "first impression." Or maybe they were just never shown at all. You never, ever get a second chance at a first impression. For most of you, an email with a resume attached is that first impression.

There are two VERY important things to remember in the creative field. 1: You have to be talented at what you do or show a very strong drive to better the talent you currently have. 2: You MUST fit in with the creative culture of the company you're joining. In my opinion, #2 is more important. We get a sense of how you're going to fit from that initial contact. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't.


Is your Email Address Professional?
Your email address makes a statement, believe it or not. When your contact information is slyfox@email.com, respectthisman@email.com, sexygirl14@email.com or totallywastedallnight@email.com...... Well, you come across as arrogant, an escort, irresponsible and quite simply, a turnoff from the employer side.

Those email addresses that are so "fun" and "cool" with your friends can paint a completely different picture when you're in the professional workplace. The addresses can give the employer pause as to whether you can be professional in the workplace. This might seem unfair, but first impressions are everything, especially when you're being compared to dozens, 100, 1000 or more people applying for a single position.

I'm not saying ditch your personal email address for all your friends, but get a new one for your professional communications. Obviously, just keeping it as simple as your name is a great way to go but if your name isn't available, add a descriptive like yournameeditorial@email.com or yournamephotographer@email.com. This applies to freelancers as well.


Pay Attention to Detail
Generally, a job description tells you enough details to give you a sense of how to contact the business. Send your materials to the right person. Send materials to the wrong person and right off the bat, you failed Hiring Test #1. It's honestly that simple from the business standpoint. This is such a simple detail, if you can't follow this simple direction, you're at the bottom of the pile.


Show Me the Skills
Our recent job position was for a Video Editor. So knowing that, don't send a two page resume with video editor as the very last thing on page 2 or a resume that doesn't include video editor at all. What that tells me is you feel much more confident in the other abilities you're listing rather than your video editing ability. If you're applying for a specific skill, play up THAT skill in your resume / reel / materials.

And by the same token, don't let a lack of "professional experience" discourage you from applying for a position if you feel you have good basic skills and a passion for the job. I've hired several people for jobs with little "professional experience" but had really good storytelling skills on their reels.


Be Concise
A multi-page resume is not going to impress the employer any more than a well written, well organized single page resume. Just because you've worked on over 100 projects in the past two years doesn't mean you need to list every single one of them individually and every task you did on that job. Tell me the most important reasons why I should consider you in a single page, include a second page for specific awards / projects if necessary, but again, keep it concise.

Along the same lines, most people no longer include a cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to show your passion and your knowledge of the profession and job in general. A well written cover letter along with a concise one sheet resume really makes you stand out.


Keep It Clean
Create a clean layout for your resume and cover letter. Flourishes like colored fonts, "cool fonts", huge text headers, film reels in the letterhead and an overall sloppy appearance just doesn't help your cause. A clean, professional resume layout is not rocket science, there are examples just a simple Google search away. So forget making your resume "look creative." Make it look clean, sharp, easy to read and save your creative work for the text and your samples.

Everything I've touched on above gives me, as an employer, an initial impression on how you might fit in with my creative team. As most creative facilities are somewhat small, generally 30 people or less, it's generally more important how you mesh with the rest of the team vs. just having the best skill set. So how you represent yourself in your first contact with the company is a first example of how you might represent yourself with both the team and clients.

As I said at the top, this should be common sense, but our recent job posting seems to suggest otherwise. Best of luck to all of you on your future endeavors!


Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Principal, Biscardi Creative Media
Executive Producer, MTWD Entertainment
Executive Producer, Our Story Media



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Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by chris tangey
@Eric McCarthy I think he meant....I "know" longer work in live TV... You are more game than I am, a comment like that sets you up for scrutiny I guess! lol

Owner/Manager,
Alice Springs Film and Television

http://www.alicespringsfilmtv.com.au
https://vimeo.com/41265239
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Doug Chambers
Just found this article today, and this is all really great, useful advice. I hope Walter can answer a couple of questions for me.

As far as cover letters go, a lot of job advice sites say when sending the application via direct e-mail it's best to make the body of the e-mail itself the cover letter rather than attaching a separate document. Would you say that's the best way to go about it, or does it work better attached to the e-mail as a more formal letter?

Also, what are your thoughts on people applying from out of town? I know people who have been hired for production jobs in other cities and states and then relocated, but I have also found that some companies don't want to hire anyone from out of town who has to move first. Where I'm located, I know I'll most likely have to move for production jobs, but I don't want to have to move without having work lined up first. It's a slightly perplexing situation sometimes.

(Full disclosure: I applied for the video editor position mentioned in this article. Hopefully my materials did not inspire any comments in the article.)

Douglas Chambers
dougchambers.net
@Doug Chamber
by walter biscardi
Would you say that's the best way to go about it, or does it work better attached to the e-mail as a more formal letter?


I would say do both. Put the cover letter as your email but also attach a copy of it with the resume. Generally we print out all the cover letters and resumes for review together around a table. Sometimes if the cover letter is only in the email, it doesn't get printed.

Also, what are your thoughts on people applying from out of town?


No problem applying from out of town at all if you're ok with the salary and benefits of the position. We had a very strong candidate apply from out of town and after initial conversations, that person decided to come to Atlanta for a on-site interview and tour. If that person wasn't even in the running, I would not have allowed them to make the travel, but they really wanted to.

That being said, the way most creative positions work any more is the Contract to Full Time route where the new hire will sign a 3 - 6 month free lance contract as a trial run. Generally this is more for the personality fit in the new company moreso than for technical reasons. Folks want to make sure you're going to fit in and enhance the company rather than cause personality conflicts.

So you'd have to weigh just how well the job feels before taking the commitment to move if it's not a straight up full time hire.

Hope that helps!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Mark Suszko
I'll say this about a good cover letter:

I got my current job by applying to what they used to call a "blind box ad" in the Tribune. Basically a three-sentence description of the job, with no info on who was offering the job. Just a P.O. box number to send in the materials. You never even know if they opened your envelope. I didn't hold high hopes for this gig because blind boxes are usually for cattle calls where they expect a flood of applicants and surely I couldn't be the best in the pile...

I got a call a couple days later from the hiring manager who said: "After reading that cover letter and looking over the resume, I had to talk to you to see if you were for real."

I guess I have that effect on people.:-)

After exchanging some small talk, he gave me a quick quiz about time code and lighting situations, over the phone, which I answered in detail. We talked about fifteen minutes.

"How soon can you get down here for an interview with my boss?"

You know, even after I got hired, they never looked at my pitiful little VHS demo reel. Which was probably the second luckiest thing for me.

It is now 25-ish years later, still work there.
@Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Eric Hansen
Hey Walter, great piece. I think #2 really hits it on the head. Living in Jackson Hole, WY, it's very hard to attract talent that has the production skills we're looking for. At the same time, if we find someone with all the best skills, they have a hard time adjusting to life in a mountain town.

I've either assisted with or been in charge of hiring staff and interns for a few different production companies here, and the best combination has always been

#1 the ability to work in this unique environment
#2 passion for production and learning
#3 the skill set they bring with them

I don't think that's much different than most companies. We're looking for easy going but professional people that love to learn and have a great time.

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv
@Eric Hansen
by walter biscardi
Wooooo, Jackson Hole. I get jealous every time we do a story with footage from there, looks so amazing.

We just went through all the resumes we have received so far and in one case in particular, the resume itself seemed weak from an experience point of view. But the Cover Letter was extremely well written and thought out. That made me go look at the reel and from the reel, while it's clear they have a lack of professional experience, they have a good eye for timing on the edits.

So far they have hit with #1, now we'll find out if they can fit in with our team after a meeting. I'm just stunned with the caliber of talent reaching out to our facility, but I'll tell you, given the right opportunity to work in your location, wow, I wouldn't think twice! :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
+1
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Matt Faw
Great post and comment thread.

One mistake I've made (and it's painful how easy it is to make it) is to forget to attach the resume before hitting send. Great cover letter, but no resume; not all that impressive.
@Matt Faw
by walter biscardi
That I would consider an honest mistake. I do that all the time with proposals for clients. Then I have to do the "Oops! Forgot the Attachment!" follow up. :)

That shouldn't be held against you since it's such a common thing.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
+2
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Robert Ober
Hello Walter,

I continue to appreciate your posts and articles.

The peter peters post is spam? The link takes you to a site that infects your computer?

Sure looks like something my spam filter would kick out.

If not, Peter should learn enough about the English language to capitalize. Folks from other countries can and should have an educated native speaker check their work.

Hope you folks are well and good,
Robert A. Ober
http://www.infohou.com/postprod
@Robert Ober
by pedro prates
hello Robert, thank u for sharing ur perspective, i really appreciate u chose to communicate giving me this opportunity to clarify.. before ur post i wasnt really sure why no one said anything about such a different perspective, as our ultimate collective intention here is mutual help.. so i very much enjoyed Walters clarification that it is probably not very useful to run a robot company, for he was able to write in a simpler way the very same vision i hoped to share. im sorry that my form of communication doesnt please u, it was not meant that way at all, i hoped to convey love.

having said this, id like to ask u to please consider revising ur post, for if claiming my site is spam feels a little disrespectful, suggesting it is a virus or virus source doesnt feel at all like the spirit of this site - u know this is a lie. i shared my site because of the controversy of what i am sharing in todays world.. the art i put out bypasses the layer of judgement to convey this same love, free from the form that exactly got u stuck.. im definitely not a native english speaker, but i am equally sure that i am human. going beyond structure u may find that what im sharing may actually make ur life better in the business world, for u r human too! that is the focus here, beyond taste i hope.. making life easier for all. that's why i love cow. cheer
The W in COW stands for WORLD
by Tim Wilson
Hi Robert and Pedro,

Pedro, thanks for updating the name on your profile to its native form. I think that this helps a lot.

Robert, the image at Pedro's site is a map to his profiles at YouTube, Facebook, Soundcloud, tumblr, Twitter, flickr, be, jango, and last.fm. He's a musician who has been part of Creative COW since 2009.

This is a friendly reminder that over 60% of the COW's visitors are from outside the US, over 30% of our total audience (both inside and outside the US) is using a non-English operating system, and even in the US, the professional media community serves American audiences who speak many languages -- and needs producers fluent, or native, in those languages.

So, yes, it turns out that the notion of Creative Communities Of the WORLD (COW), reflects the diversity inside nearly every one of the 220 nations and territories that have visited us in the past month.

I don't think that this changes Walter's point in the least. Pedro's point is also valid. More than one thing can be true at a time.

Thanks,
Tim

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW

+1
Tim Wilson's Reply
by Robert Ober
I understand all that.

I would submit that were I posting to an oversees site I would learn punctuation, etc., have someone review my post, or not post. We have enough trouble understanding each other otherwise.

To the topic, I have been in positions in the past that involved hiring folks. If I received something that looked like Pedro's post it would go in the recycle bin. Doing business is hard enough without adding communication problems. I have worked with and went to school with plenty of folks who were non-native English speakers. Almost all of those folks took the effort to do well in the language they were using. It is to Pedro's advantage to do better when communicating in English.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Robert
@Robert Ober
by walter biscardi
Robert, the fact that so many people around the world can communicate in English while that's the ONLY language that so many people here in the US know simply amazes me.

As Tim says, the W is for World and that's one of the things I love so much about the Cow. I've made friends from so many places that never would have happened without this great resource. Pedro is not the first person for whom I've had to read through a post three or four times to fully understand what he's saying. It's all good.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
@Tim Wilson
by pedro prates
Thank you Tim, Walter, and Robert,

I'm sorry about the different name situation! When I registered to post here I was very privacy-conscious, and didn't want my name on Google in any form. A while ago i completely changed my mind, joined Facebook, adhered to the whole public approach, decided to trust life.. but, completely forgot this COW name-thing until i posted this time - didn't mean to be fishy!

Meanwhile I'd like to share that i also don't mean to be a dick writing this way. For many reasons it seems important for me to communicate in an alternative style, for I believe I am contributing positively in the long run, given the "newspeak'ish" state of the world. I am also aware that for many people this is a deterrent, and I'm not happy about this at all.. I wanted to write for as many people possible. So all i can do is trust this calling while it feels right, and hope that more people have the curiosity that Walter shared. It is my impression that without curiosity it is impossible to really receive anyways, and my hope is that ultimately those who can't really accept this difference can simply skip reading. I'm really thankful every time someone receives though, it is rare but feels great.

Cheers!

P.S.: I feel many comments and replies have been very Human, it's been a joy to read and follow this post, all the best.
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Tristan Chaika
Thanks for the article, Walter. I agree with pretty much all of what you wrote. I just want to comment from the other side of the equation.

If someone DOES take the time to customize a cover letter, personalizing it and showing they have done a little research into your company, and they have attach a well-formatted, clearly written resume, and have included a link to their video reel, PLEASE respond to them, even if you don't hire them.

Send an email thanking them for their interest in the position and, at the very least, send a mass email to all the applicants just notifying them when the position has actually been filled. If you're really awesome, you'll tell them why they were passed up and what areas you think they could develop more.

I know many companies have OK policies in this regard, but more often than not, applicants may spend hours getting things together applying for a single job, and receive nothing whatsoever in response.
+3
@Tristan Chaika
by walter biscardi
Happy to report back that my Production Manager has been sending back a reply to the of folks who have sent along interest in the position.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
@Tristan Chaika
by Eric Hansen
Tristan, I can't agree more. At the last 2 companies I worked for, I assisted or was in charge of hiring employees and mostly interns. I made it a point to always email anyone that sent us a resume to keep them in the loop. Now that I'm in the position of sending out resumes, it's been very frustrating that I have not been given the same courtesy. It doesn't help that many job postings say DO NOT CALL. At one company I worked for, we realized after a few months of receiving no applications, that the email address we put in the ad had actually been turned off, and the emails were dropping down a black hole with no bounce back. We didn't know until someone "broke the rules" and called us to ask if we received their resume.

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv
@Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Alex Elkins
Excellent article Walter. Glad to see I'm not the only one getting irritated by all of this. It really bugs me when I receive emails from people who have clearly sent precisely the same email to 50 other companies. Some people don't even bother to BCC all of the recipients!

There's one person in particular who has sent me the exact same generic email no less than five times! It amazes me that after however many months of unsuccessfully bombarding companies with impersonal emails that it wouldn't occur to them to try a different approach.

The only people I've ever offered interviews to are people who have taken the time to demonstrate that they at least know something about who we are. A quick Tweet or phone call asking "who should I send my CV to" doesn't take a lot of effort.

On the subject of literacy, I'm generally quite hard on people for the same reasons other have already given. However, I do make some exceptions; I receive a lot of CVs from people where it's clear that English isn't their first language and I can't hold that against them. If the tone is professional then I'm prepared to overlook a few mistakes in sentence structure, spelling and so on. I certainly couldn't do any better in their home country!

Alex Elkins
@postbluetv
http://www.postblue.tv
View my new colour correction reel
@Alex Elkin
by Tim Wilson
A gold star has been placed next to your name in our database, for not adding an apostrophe to "CVs."

:-)

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW

+1
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by peter peters
hi! throughout the past years iv learned a lot from u (Walter) and u all really, hopefully this is may be and opportunity to share something with this wonderful community too. i believe that this is and will be more and more important in the future, influencing all aspects of business including video. it is about the fact that for stability and success, the #2 rule of fitting the company culture is dimmed more important than the the #1 call of attention. this is somehow part of my field of work, also integrating with video arts, and i can share that in similiar deep structural instances of the evolution of living communities, the #2 option is a good defense system to be aware of, but only at a much deeper level.

i wanted to share that for me it is not only important to make ur #1 point the priority always, but the #2 suggestion can safely be even reversed too, to the point where the culture of the living organism that is an enterprise has the equivalent of fresh water coming into the pond perhaps (much like some great universities have a diversity quota sometimes). much like avid once changed the game, much like final cut once changed the game, and u say smoke is on the way to do the same, being caught in a safe but static spot in terms of the producing evolution may mean total dissolution. in other words, expanding company cultures beyond the control of the boss seems to me essential in assuring a level of response and natural evolution far greater then the possibilities allowed by a stricter or prioritised #2 rule. i believe this will be made very evident in the next 10 years.

having said this, my findings also make it essential that #2 perspective is important, but more on the level of sound communication. meaning that the person's priority is peace and that they r able to communicate without withholding pressure. this widening of the company culture inspires not only internal creative width, but also trains the team in flexibility, being for me as important as canaries in a mine - upholding #2 strongly often results in growing stress levels and many times increase in toxic compensations in communities. ultimately all people have to first and foremost be strong on the #1 pointer u suggest for any company to have a chance, as more mechanical teams r like trains: incredibly powerful but not really flexible enough for the new times while on rails. thx for reading and for ur sharings always. this and similar perspectives can be found at different art levels at PDRPRTS.com - please share if it resonates, cheers!
@Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Paul Peltekian
Great post! I'd like to add that more and more post-supervisors and executive producers who are hiring staff for TV shows are looking at facebook to see who they're dealing with before they bring people in for an interview. So don't put anything on there that you wouldn't want your mother to see because more than likely it could make the difference between getting hired or collecting more unemployment.
+1
@Paul Peltekian
by walter biscardi
I honestly don't agree with the Facebook thing. Who you are when you're home and away from the office is your own business. I don't want everyone to just be a "plain jane, fit the company mold" kind of person.

It's more fun to get folks of all stripes in here. Besides, if you're smart you have your privacy settings set correctly so folks can't snoop on your Facebook page. :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Nathan Walters
Great advice. I'm hoping none of these frustrations came from me!

Being someone from the upcoming generation, I think you will be shocked at how much worse it will soon be.

Nathan Walters
Halo Union Productions
http://www.HaloUnionProductions.com
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Bob Zelin
another great post from Walter Biscardi. What is accurate is what should be obvious is NOT obvious to so many people. A memorable example of this was related to me by the chief engineer of a big company about a year ago. The APPLE rep called him up, and actually said "yo dude, what's goin' on". Now, I am a "wild and crazy guy", but when I am discussing business in a business enviornment, I don't want anyone calling me "dude" - because it represents a guy that wants to hang out and get stoned with me, instead of a professional that wants to have a serious conversation about equipment.

Another thing which constantly amazes me about people is not wanting to show that they are a "self starter". If you are going to work for a small company, and you don't know how to do something, you just don't sit there as assume "well, maybe they will send me to a class". This stuff should be your passion - you should have an interest in it, and if you TRY - even if you screw up and make lots of mistakes, as you keep trying you will figure it out, and it shows ambition, and guess what - people will help you !

Great article Walter -
Bob Zelin

Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by chris tangey
Thanks Walter, your advice could be adapted for almost any industry.

Another favorite (not) of mine is when the resume writer goes on and on about how incredibly talented they are and why your company needs them so, never mentioning what they can contribute to your business. Dare I say university/college degrees also mean nothing to me when put up against demonstrable talent. That talent however, must come with an ability to express itself to employer and client alike through grammar and spelling, and enough humility to acknowledge that they actually have things to learn!

When employing somebody give me aptitude over attitude any day.
@chris tangey
by walter biscardi
When employing somebody give me aptitude over attitude any day.

Spot on. So much attitude coming out of colleges and universities today, the "entitlement attitude." Very easy to spot on a resume as well.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Get Hired! Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Mark Suszko
Applicants today have grown up in a world where spelling and grammar are very arbitrary and nobody faults them for it. They don't seem to get it that once you're on the editing clock, spelling and grammar errors cost money. If they write prospective employers using gamer's "1337-speak" or texting patois, they are not ready for the work world. And this next statement is apparently controversial, but I stand by it: a single spelling or grammar error in the cover letter or resume should be enough to disqualify an applicant. Not because we're all pathological, but because you have had all the time you needed to make these documents literally "letter-perfect". A mistake therefore indicates a lack of rigor or attention, or a lack of skill in spelling and grammar. I mean, those things can even be checked automatically by your word processor, but you didn't bother to turn them on for THIS? If that's "how you roll" on the resume, how careful will you be about scoping the video and doing QC on it? Will stations repeatedly kick your work back as un-broadcastable? Everything is a test. Everything.

Kids don't seem to understand how to construct a cover letter these days, they usually leave it out altogether. Schools are not teaching this any more in class. I've had to coach our interns and my own kids thru it numerous times and it always surprises them that I insist they send a thank-you follow-up message after an interview. It may seem old-school, but such details still matter; heck it IS a detail-oriented, relationship-driven business.

There's also the problem of modern H.R. practices. Getting thru to someone like Walter here, who understands the technical side, is one thing: getting thru a gauntlet of modern H.R. practices before getting to talk to Walter may be another. One of the problems is that overworked H.R. departments know less than nothing of our business and our techno-speak; they tend to use checklists and software to pre-screen everything you send in, using a relatively primitive keyword search based on terms from the ad they sent out.

This keyword search is rather unsophisticated, somewhat arbitrary, and can be gamed; if the keyword is "Avid", you might not get a call-back unless you use it in the document a set number of times, even saying you don't use Avid, but want to learn Avid, still gets the word into the document and it can be counted as a plus, believe it or not. Saying: "NLE" or "Non-linear editing" may mean nothing to the algorithm unless it has those keywords. Even if you have a list of Eddy's and other awards as long as your arm.

Since all the pre-screening is machine-driven these days, the fancy fonts and nice, watermarked "moonstone blue" paper you picked out means diddly. Moreover, any avant-garde layouts or bullet list techniques may also not read correctly when machine-scanned; your layout turns to non-sequitur word salad. So, your answer is to have paper AND simplified electronic versions custom-made for every instance. The electronic ones should be in a simple .txt or .rtf format for maximum compatibility.

If you get an interview, that is your chance to show that you took initiative and did research on the company before your interview. In today's wired world, there is no excuse for coming in completely blind to what a company does and what its history is. Have intelligent questions to ask, and never ask about salary or benefits first; you wait until the interviewer brings it up.
+3
@Mark Suszko
by Mark Harmer
Absolutely superb advice - having worked in a large media corporate, your points are absolutely on the money.

The job of any creative person in this industry is, after all, to understand what's needed and offer something that adds value. What's true for the 'craft' should also be true for the resume.
@Mark Suszko
by Eric McCarthy
"...this next statement is apparently controversial, but I stand by it: a single spelling or grammar error in the cover letter or resume should be enough to disqualify an applicant."

This is a biggie. Many years ago I was hired at a large sports news company. Given that I am a pretty big fan of spell check, I probably had no errors on my resume, but I was a weak speller. The resume was submitted for an editors position, but once there, I was put in the graphics dept., eventually running a Chyron for live newscast, and location assignments. I learned under fire that spelling is crucial. You do not want to see your spelling mistake go live to anyone, let alone "who-knows-how-many" viewers. It is a double mistake, once for making it; and second for not catching it before signing off on it.

I know longer work in live TV, but rather, produce for commercial clients. Luckily my spelling is considerably better, but it still chills my blood if I see a spelling error in a key or board. Even if it is just a rough edit, a spelling mistake is the worst thing to have happen while a client is viewing.

Yes, the spelling in a cover letter is like spelling on a DVD menu, or a live L3. Once they are out of your hands, they better be 100% correct.

@Eric McCarthy
by Mark Suszko
You know there's an error in your post, right? :-)
@Mark Suszko
by Eric McCarthy
Doh! - "editor's"!
In my defense, this was banged out while on the bus ride home from downtown yesterday afterwork. But still... too funny.

Re: Getting Hired: Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Tim Wuolle
Thanks Walter. You are right on the money with a lot of points here. One thing I need to do is get my resume down to 1 page.

Tim Wuolle
Producer/Videographer/Editor
+1
Re: Getting Hired: Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by Eric Addison
Something I've had happen a couple of times was (and I didn't think it could happen more than once but it did) I had people obviously re-using the same cover letter, and they forgot to change out all the spots where they had the company name they were applying to. The cover letters started off fine listing our company name, but closer to the end they missed a few spots and instead of saying how much they could offer my company, it was our competition.

---Eric
Owner | 100 ACRE FILMS
http://www.100acrefilms.com
@Eric Addison
by walter biscardi
Yeah, we have a few of those. One managed to put our Production Manager's name on their resume instead of their own name. Copy and Paste Oooooops!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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Re: Getting Hired: Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by walter biscardi
Here's an off topic question. What's your philosophy on cellphones, facebook, tweeting, and texting at work? Once you hire someone what's the office policy on that type of personal communication? I feel like they're distractions, but don't really feel comfortable banning cellphones outright in a creative environment. It would be great to hear how others deal with it.

Well first off, we have a very casual office. My feeling is we're working in a very high stress industry and you need the ability to walk away from your workstation every so often during the day. We have a huge kitchen / lounge with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, snacks, Wii and XBox. Molly the Wonder Dog entertains by chasing anything down the hall or the backyard.

So when you're working unattended, so long as the day's work is getting done per the schedule and it's being done right, folks can pause to tweet, check email, facebook, etc.... I find that when it's ok to do that, folks generally don't abuse it. If you say "No, that's no allowed at all" folks tend to "sneak a peek" more often.

When working with a client, you need to stay focused on the task at hand with the client. Even there, I'll have the editors suggest a quick break every 90 minutes or so just to stand up, walk around and then get back in there. Clients seem to appreciate the walk to the lounge for coffee and accept some love from Molly.

So it's ok to check emails, tweet from time to time during the day. Like anything else, abuse the breaks, well we just don't call you in for work anymore.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: Getting Hired: Be Professional and Pay Attention to Detail
by John Davidson
GREAT post Walter. Maybe you've saved somebody's life with this. Hopefully you tweeted a link to it!

There's nothing worse than a stock cut/paste 10 paragraph email where someone waxes philosophical about how amazing they are (with no experience), misspells half their words, and submits work that doesn't even show hope of promise.

I've found that sometimes the right people don't always have the perfect amount of experience, but match criteria #2 you list so well that it works out.

Here's an off topic question. What's your philosophy on cellphones, facebook, tweeting, and texting at work? Once you hire someone what's the office policy on that type of personal communication? I feel like they're distractions, but don't really feel comfortable banning cellphones outright in a creative environment. It would be great to hear how others deal with it.

Thanks again!


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