This post was written by Jenny Yerrick Martin, author of Breaking Into The Biz: The Insider’s Guide to Launching An Entertainment Industry Career, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project.
The very first blog post I wrote for my entertainment career site, Your Industry Insider, was called “The Art of Getting the Part.” It was about looking right for the job when you went on interviews, comparing that in-person experience to acting auditions.
“When actors go to casting sessions,” I wrote, “everything they do is geared toward convincing the casting director that they are perfect for the part. If they’re going in to play a street tough on one of those countless crime dramas on the air these days, they dress down, in leather jacket and jeans maybe, and slump and scowl in the waiting area outside the audition room. For the part of the town slut, the actress struts in wearing a micro-mini and halter top and gives a suggestive sidelong glance at the casting intern with the clipboard.”
Look The Part
I suggested that candidates for jobs think about their attire and behavior in job interviews the same way.
The casting analogy might sound a little entertainment industry-centric to some of you, but stick with me. Though I have worked in the entertainment industry my entire career, and both hire for the industry and give advice to others on how to get hired in it, my advice applies to any job hunt and actually goes beyond your outward appearance and behavior once you land the interview.
When you are looking for a job, every aspect of every contact you have with a potential employer communicates who you are as a candidate and whether you are right for the opening. Yes, there could be educational requirements for the position, but sometimes they are very broad and, beyond that, there is always the question of “fit.” As a hiring executive, I always want to choose someone who is “right” for the job.
So, what does that mean for you as the job candidate? If you are looking for a receptionist job, think about what the ideal receptionist would be for the places where you are applying. Beyond tailoring your resume to highlight experience the duties of the job, such retail and server jobs, use your cover letter to actually tell a story about you that makes you seem like the perfect candidate.
In your letter, mention that you were voted “most likely to start a conversation with a total stranger” in high school, or that your college debate team coach told you repeatedly that even though you made good arguments for your side in matches, smiling throughout those arguments was effecting the team’s ranking. Tell me that you were always chosen to check VIP alumni in for events at your school because the organizers knew that no matter what the situation, you would handle it tactfully. Even when you had to turn people away, they walked away smiling.
And then, once you are going in for an interview (of course, I’m going to want to have you in for an interview after hearing about your alumni event experience), dress professionally and conscientiously, be friendly and confident, make eye contact, smile, convey ease… You want me picturing you at my company’s receptionist desk, in this case, or in a cubicle in the finance department, or sitting outside the marketing executive’s office.
As I concluded that first blog post on my site back at the beginning, I’m not saying you have to wear glasses to get the job as the librarian… but it can’t hurt.
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