Since the start of summer, I’ve had a lot of recent graduates reach out to me via LinkedIn or Twitter asking for career advice on landing their first “real world” job in sports or entertainment.
As my former coworker Alicia Quarles once told me, “Advice is free and I’m happy to give it.” I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way through both applying to jobs and hiring employees myself.
1. Be patient but persistent.
Applying to jobs is in itself a full-time job. I recommend book-marking career sites and dedicating certain hours of the day to apply to jobs, send e-mails, create cover letters etc. Every “no” means you’re one step closer to a “yes.” What I found with myself as well as my friends is that in the end when you land your first job it will make sense why so many other jobs didn’t pan out. Stay positive.
I really don’t like the word “network” because it sounds so forced but the truth is your circle of connections is likely much bigger than you realize. Make a list of people you know in the industry and don’t be afraid to ask them to introduce you to a connection at the company you’re applying to. Both the entertainment and sports worlds are very small and social media has only made it smaller! We live in an incredibly connected world where you can reach out to someone directly on social media. Additionally, 9 times out of 10 a quick LinkedIn or Google search will provide the e-mail address of the hiring manager.
3. Keep it simple.
Chances are the person you’re reaching out to leads a very busy life and is already drowning in e-mails. Keep your e-mail short and to the point. If you’re e-mailing someone in sports, avoid sending the e-mail on a game day. In entertainment, avoid e-mailing at top of show. Mid-week is most likely the best time to get their attention.
4. Be willing to do what others won’t.
When I landed my first job at E! to the outside world I landed any 21-year-old girl’s dream job. While there were definitely a few “pinch me” moments the truth is, it was far from that! I was working 2-11PM with my weekend being Tuesday and Wednesday. When I saw the job opening I thought that many others would rule out living in Los Angeles without having Saturday and Sunday off and knew there would be a smaller pool of applicants. It turns out, that pool was significantly smaller and they called me a few hours after I hit submit to interview!
5. Do your research.
You’ve landed an interview! Great. Now: prepare, prepare, prepare. If you’re interviewing for a job in sports it’s important to know the team history, the current roster, the coaches, owners etc. If you’re interviewing for a job in entertainment chances are they’ll give you a pop culture quiz on the spot. If either of these jobs are in social media, review their social media and be prepared to present ideas of how you would improve each platform.
6. You can’t teach passion.
Be enthusiastic. There can be a lot of nerves when you’re sitting in the hot seat but don’t forget to smile. It will ease both you and the person interviewing you. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. In both sports and entertainment, you’ll work long hours; people want to know that you’ll be a great teammate.
7. Showcase your experience.
Be prepared to talk a lot about your past experience. Use specific examples from internships or school to show how you handled a situation. Think of a time you were a leader, a time you failed, a time you worked on a tight deadline etc. While a 4.0 GPA is impressive, employers want to hear why you’d be a natural fit at their company.
8. Your dream job might not yet exist.
Job sites don’t have all the answers. If there’s a company you admire that you think your skill set could help don’t be afraid to reach out! At the very least, you’ll be on their radar.
9. Communication matters.
Whether you’re corresponding with HR, a VP, or a coordinator your written and oral communication matters. Be timely, use punctuation and if you’re sending an e-mail on the go please take out “Sent from my iPhone.”
10. Gratitude goes a long way.
Never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you note.