During this time, while we are all hunkering down at home, whether by choice or by circumstance, for most of us the job search is also going to be on hold. Productions are shutting down, and it seems very unlikely that new shows will start for some little time.
Here are some suggestions of how you can occupy your time productively, so that after the pandemic has passed as it ultimately will, you can return to your entertainment job search ready to go.
Prep for the future. Perhaps it is obvious, but now is a good time to ensure that your resume, foundation cover letter, and list of references are updated and ready for customizing.
When you are busy going to interviews, and making those cold calls and researching projects, one of the things that tend to suffer is updating and upgrading your social media presence especially your LinkedIn. Most of the clients that I work with, are very focused on their resume and cover letter and tend to leave their LinkedIn in a sad state. I recommend using the time to make it much better. A good LinkedIn profile and other social media can make a difference to your job search.
Here are a few tips for improving your LinkedIn.
How is your portfolio looking? What about your reel? While you have some time, make sure those are updated.
This is a good time to catch up on your watching. Seriously. I don’t mean just a passive intake of entertainment as a distraction. I mean this is a good time to enhance your education about film history. Try and watch some classic movies, and study why they might be considered greats. Make notes, and read up on the story of the films and artists. Consider films that have not been your favorites, cult movies, foreign language films, different genres from your usual fare.
Increase your television literacy. Try and catch up on things that are trending on Netflix, with an active critical eye. Jot down notes about what you have watched. Try to understand why these particular projects have captured the current imagination and zeitgeist. While you’re at it, this could be a good time to compare some classic TV with current versions of the genre- like I Love Lucy with family sitcoms or female driven comedy. I’m thinking Parks and Rec, Modern Family which is about to cease, or Mom. What has changed? What has stayed the same? There are many on-topic discussion groups extant on social media, or you could start one.
We writers have it relatively good. We have the opportunity to simply continue writing. If anything we have more reason to use this time to write, because we don’t have anywhere to go at all. I hope that we all come out of this with some great new material and content to share.
We can use this time to further our education. Even with libraries closed, we still have the opportunity to use our county library card (here is Los Angeles County’s site) and pin number to access online courses from home. We can upgrade our skills with our computers, we can study marketing, we can even learn some entirely new programs through some of the sites that are connected to the county library. These include Lynda.com, Gale Courses and several language learning sites.If the library courses don’t appeal, another idea is to invest in some courses from other online providers. There are online course providers in so many areas some of which are expensive, others of which are less so. This is an opportunity to take the time to learn something new or something that you’ve always wanted to explore. Here is a list of some sites that look attractive. There’s also this subscription service.
This is a good time to set up your office or small studio for remote interviewing and possibly remote working. Phone interviews are of course common, but they are increasingly being augmented or even replaced by video interviewing through different services. Now is your chance to get that set up and ready so that you can hit the ground running as soon as people start holding job interviews again. There are a few tips on this post.
Rearrange your house or clear out your workspace. They say a change is as good as a holiday, and some of us are not going to be going on vacation anytime soon. One thing that we can do is re-organize our office. Tax time is approaching. We could use this time to get ahead on those and submit early. Clear out your office drawers, throw away old paperwork. Just get rid of things that are no longer serving you in your forward-looking journey to a new career in film or television.
Mental clutter is just as energy sapping as physical clutter. Use this time to do some personal work and goal setting. There are many resources available to you. I like Mel Robbins free course called “Best Decade Ever”. I have been using it myself and I gained some terrific insights into my underlying desires and goals for the next 10 years.
Of course, this is not the only kind of course that can help with that. All kinds of other books and online courses exist with advice from interesting people about how to focus your mind and focus your goals. There are even questions in my cover letter writing book that go in this direction. Now could be a good time to hunker down with a copy of that book – the e-book is only $4.49 – and do the exercises in it to not only create a great cover letter but also drill down and focus on your goals.
I will be continuing to do my Facebook Live events every month – in fact I might even upgrade how often I do that. I am available to discuss your job search, your career goals as a filmmaker, or how to write a job search plan. Please come to my Facebook Live and ask any questions. The next one will be March 25th at 2pm. Join my email list for reminders.
At this time people who work in theater are if anything, hurting more than people who work in film and television. The momentum of theater especially on Broadway over the last 20 years has been extraordinary, as there has been a flowering of audiences returning to the theater, and an explosion of talent and creativity as people bring stories from other media and re-imagine them for theater so successfully that they created a whole sub-genre of theater in itself.
The idea that people can engage with the same story and characters through different media and in different ways is really wonderful. However, theater and film are often temporary jobs by their very nature. If there is one thing people require in order to have a successful career, it’s a sense of momentum. This means that as soon as you have one job, you still spend some of your time looking for your next job. Sometimes that can mean that people don’t take a break. Sometimes it can mean that people get burnt out.
So my final suggestion for you during this time is to actually take a break. It’s not a vacation in the sense that you can’t necessarily go anywhere, and there is the sense of worry. But I hope that you do have the resources to at least spend some of your time resting.
Garden. Take up yoga. Read books you’ve been putting off. Cook new dishes that take more time than usual. Bake. Make some art. I have been doing my month of art projects of different kinds over on my Iggy Jingles blog, as part of my desire to reclaim my arts practice after a couple of years of heavily focusing on writing and resumes. You can join me if you’d like. This month I am doing a month of artist trading cards (ATCs). Of course, I’m not going to be doing much trading just now, but I hope to get back to that after the crisis has passed.
And it will pass. The markets will return to their steady upward trajectory over time. Businesses will examine the success of their remote work practices and perhaps they will want to hire more people who have the ability to work effectively in remote locations, have the ability and self-discipline to be working and productive despite not having the immediate presence of a supervisor.
Creative work in film and television will resume, with all the wonderful new ideas and pictures that the writers have been diligently putting together and working on at home, and there will be commentary and documentary and a return to the focus on future elections and our representatives. The entertainment industry will continue to be needed to both entertain and educate.
I have few expectations that I will be approached about very many showbiz resumes over the next couple of months. For this reason I am going to offer some individual coaching sessions and LinkedIn optimization sessions. I will give more information about how this might work on my next Facebook Live, March 25th.
I don’t usually cross my resume work with my creative arts support practice, but at this time I can see the value of bringing these two different strands together with some creativity support discussion. Let’s try and use this time as a time of reflection, consolidation and creativity as much as we can.
I know that many people will be distressed financially, and like you I am watching to see what help the government at all levels is going to offer to assist people who are hurting. In mind are the many people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. It’s hard to stay “safe at home” when you don’t have one.
Perhaps it seems silly to focus on something as trivial as trading cards or journaling about creative ideas or writing stories. But these things can be done for little money, using resources you already have. And they have the ability to refresh your spirit. At a time when we can’t spend time in close contact with our friends, or go to the places that we love, finding ways to strengthen our inner resources is probably one of the best things we can do for ourselves, for our family and for each other in the future.
For this reason, I encourage you to join me on my creativity discussion group on Facebook called Creativity Blast. It’s not very busy but perhaps we can change that.