Are you applying for a job in video production or media in general? If so you might like to take a look at our tips for applying for a job and increase your chances of getting an interview.
At New Vision Media we receive emails daily from students and graduates looking for a job in the creative sector. Sadly, despite the level of competition in the job market the vast majority of these enquiries are poorly written and simply end up being deleted. Our reasoning is simple…
If a person does not put the effort into writing their pitch, what does it say about their employability?
We therefore thought it would be useful to write a short guide on applying for a job, written from the perspective of a Company Director. Our hope is that people will better understand the employers perspective and ensure their emails don’t end up in the trash.
The Seven Deadly Sins when applying for a job in video production
The following are a list of fundamental mistakes made by job applicants and the reasons why we hit ‘Delete’ before reading their emails.
1. Writing to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’
We receive a huge number of emails every day, the vast majority of which are unsolicited emails from companies offering their services (usually companies in India offering SEO!) or simply spam emails offering anything from PPI claims to Russian Brides! The point is that without our name at the start of the email we instantly assume an email is not directly aimed at us and so do not give it the attention you need.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that it demonstrates the applicant has not done their research into the company. Look at it from an employers perspective….
Why should an employer take the time to read your email if you haven’t taken the time to find out their name?
Granted, some websites don’t display this information openly and in these circumstances we recommend contacting the company by telephone to introduce yourself and ask for the name of the person who deals with employment. A simple phone call allows you to begin a dialogue and ensure your email reaches the person in a position to make a decision. It also demonstrates that you have the interpersonal skills and confidence to talk to people in person… Skills that we look for as employers!
2. Poorly written emails
Whilst we work in a ‘creative’ industry the importance of good language skills is extremely important. The need to correspond with clients daily via email, add text to videos and write copy for websites is a major part of our work. Whilst we appreciate people have varying degrees of language skills there is no excuse for poor spelling and grammatical errors. We recommend that applicants use a spell checker and get a friend or family member to proof read their emails.
In the office we often show each other emails and website copy, just to get a fresh set of eyes and see if we’ve missed anything.
Not only does this ensure you avoid basic grammatical errors but also gives you an opportunity to identify weaknesses in your pitch. It’s never easy writing about yourself whereas a close friend will be able to identify your positive attributes.
3. Getting the company name wrong
Applicants often take an email they’ve written to another company, change the email address and press ‘Send’, without checking the content of the email is correct. This instantly highlights that they’ve not taken the time to read through the email before sending and have not paid attention to the smaller details.
Employers are looking for people who can see the bigger picture whilst keeping an eye on the smaller detail.
The solution is simple… take time to read through your pitch before clicking ‘Send’. And if you have become blind to your own words, from reading the same passage too much, simply pass it over to someone else to read.
4. Writing a generic email to several companies at once
The above issue is compounded further when we look at the ‘To:’ field and realise the applicant has sent the same email to several companies at once. This highlights the generic nature of the email and the lack of attention to detail… and leaves us reaching for the ‘delete’ button.
Instead, take some time to look through the website and better understand who the company are, what they do and what aspects of their work appeals to you. Tailoring your email to a company instantly identifies that you’ve done your research and makes us more likely to read it.
5. Sending a CV and not demonstrating your creativity
Whilst people spent lots of time developing the perfect CV, the truth is that we seldom read them! As an employer in a creative industry, a list of work experience is simply not a good way to gauge your level of creativity.
We would far sooner see something that grabs our attention, that shows your creativity and ultimately demonstrates the skills you could bring to our company.
6. Not including examples of your work
The biggest indicator of someone’s suitability to work at New Vision Media is seeing their capabilities. We want to know that, given a project, you can take it onboard, add your creativity and make things happen.
The best way to demonstrate this is by showing us some examples of work, ideally something that you have produced entirely by yourself. If you don’t have any solo work then show us projects you’ve been involved in, clearly explaining what part you played in the production.
And what if you don’t have any projects to show? Well therein lies a problem. Our recommendation would be to grab a camera and go out and film something because it’s most unlikely that we would employ a person who hasn’t at least experimented in filming and editing.
A degree in filmmaking does not make you a filmmaker.
It’s the time spent outside of school, college and university that shapes who we are and what we are able to do. A person who is passionate about filmmaking will no doubt have experimented with cameras, editing, special effects and sound recording. They’ll have learnt how difficult it is to make a video using poor quality video and sound and as a result their video production skills will have improved. These are the types of passionate, enthusiastic people we are looking for as potential employees.
7. And finally… asking for a job to ‘Learn more about the industry’ or ‘Expand your knowledge’!
We see these statements written in emails all the time and it clearly demonstrates the different perceptions of employers and employees. Asking for a job to ‘Expand your knowledge’ instantly suggests that you are only interested in your own needs and not that of the business.
We are not an educational facility… we are a business. We are not here to teach people how to become video producers or teach them about the industry.
We’re running a business and have demands put upon us to be effective and profitable. As such we simply don’t have the time to take people in hand and teach them how to be a great video producer. However, we do promise that as a result of your daily work you’ll be involved in a wide range of projects, will get to experience different aspects of video production and will push your limits of creativity. In doing so you will then then learn how the industry works.
So when approaching an employer we would urge you to focus on what you can bring to our business, what are your unique skills that set you apart from others, and why we should stop what we are doing and pay attention to your email. It’s quite simple really, if you can prove that you have skills we need and aren’t just looking for work experience we’re far more likely to give your email the attention it deserves.
Hopefully our list of Seven Deadly Sins have provided some constructive advice to help those applying for a job in Video Production and will aid in understanding the employers perspective.
We treat emails from prospective employees as the initial filtering process. If they can demonstrate their creativity, language skills, video production skills and a passion for filmmaking, then we’ll call them in for a chat. Simple as that!
(Creative Director – New Vision Media).