Reader Question: How to Get A Job With No Work Experience

Another Question — man, we’re blowing through them today.

So far your website has been extremely helpful and I am grateful. But I would like to know what to do with my resume if I’ve never worked in the film industry beyond student films? My previous work history is in retail (not by choice, it’s something I got stuck in when I was studying and now I’m finding it difficult to get out & I can’t afford to move literally)
You said that no one cares about previous work history outside the film industry. I have none. No one cares about my student films (the only filmmaking experience I have thus far). But you also said that anyone can be a PA, that you don’t need to go to film school to become one, it’s an entry level position. What can you recommend I do to make myself employable by actual production companies with no industry experience and what I can do with limited sparkle on my resume?

Yes. I know it’s confusing and frustrating and irritating. It’s that age-old catch 22. You need work experience to get the job, but you need the job to get work experience. That’s why breaking in is so hard. The answer you’re looking for is one you don’t want to hear.

Know someone.

And if you don’t know anyone. Find someone to know.

When I came out to LA I knew one person out here and knew OF one person out here. That one person I knew of was a friend’s sister who happened to be working in photo shoots. She was able to get me an unpaid job on a photo shoot where I kicked ass and met people in the art department. I then used those contacts to get paid PA work from the art people I met — and so on.

The person I knew OF happened to be someone who went to my film school that I had literally never talked to or met in my life. But I got their number from another person and cold called them. “Hey, it’s so and so. I went to your film school. I’m out in LA now. If there is any way you can get me a PA job it would be really helpful. Lets meet for coffee. I’ll buy.” Etc — etc.  That guy got me a couple shitty PA jobs and some unpaid jobs that eventually — almost 5 years later — has networked me into the job I have now. Yes, I can track the job I have now all the way back to that first job the dude I didn’t even know got me.

You have to get someone to give you a chance. And to do that, you have to find someone who is already out in LA working with connections.

Another story —  I walk into a bar in LA and end up talking to two other guys who work in the industry. Turns out one of them works in production for music videos. I tell them I’m a PA looking for work. We exchange numbers — go our separate ways — a few months later I get a call from someone saying I was recommended for a music video shoot. Turns out it was that guy I met at the bar.

Meet people. Know people.

Does your cousin have a friend whose sister has a friend whose uncle is working in LA? Find them and meet them and ask them for a job.

12pt.

6 thoughts on “Reader Question: How to Get A Job With No Work Experience”

  1. Good advice, start to finish. You won’t get a job sitting in your apartment waiting for the phone to ring. The Industry does not know — or care — that you exist. Get off your ass and make something happen. Otherwise, it won’t.

  2. Who said anything about sitting on their ass? Know one even mentioned that. They talked about having difficulty moving past their current life obstacles. The person is seeking help to make themselves more employable. That’s doing something and it makes no sense to quit a job (any job) before getting a production job. (Everyone has to pay the bills)
    So, nothing was mentioned about sitting on their ass. An enquiry was made to see what EXTRA things could be done to improve their chances of breaking in, especially since they sound like they’ve just finished college and looking to start their career.
    Even if you’re cold calling all day, sending out resumes left, right and centre, that doesn’t guarantee you get a job. But say you get one, then what? You have no money to move to where the production is, you can’t even afford a car, you don’t qualify for any loans from the banks/loan institutions and a loan shark ain’t for you. Sometimes there are obstacles in your way and moving past them if very difficult. Even more so when people tell you to “know someone” & and the classic “start networking”…
    Easier said than done when you live in a small rural town of less than 3,000 people and the only people you know think farming is the bee’s knees and all there is to life. Networking certainly ain’t that easy when the nearest town is 2 hours away and has only 5,000 people. Knowing the guy who sells tickets at the cinema isn’t exactly the kind of networking that’ll get you a production job.
    Sometimes, Michael Taylor, doing things isn’t as easy as saying them! Sometimes people are trying and not just sitting on their ass! I don’t know what your situation is but what you said makes you sound like an old man who has forgotten what it’s like to be starting out from the very beginning.
    Some people are lucky enough to live in a city or even in Los Angeles, but others aren’t. So before you judge, make sure you’ve considered all the possible angles and the difficulties people are trying to over come. You are too judgemental without all the facts.
    Next time, get off your ass and do some research. You might want to watch what you say from now on, lest you make people angry.

  3. @Ann — I believe Michael was making a general statement. And he’s not wrong. You live in a small town and know no one? Boo hoo — It’s an excuse. Take the sacrifice and move out to LA where you CAN meet people. You will never get a job in LA by living in po-dunk-ville. And if you’re not willing to make those sacrifices, than maybe working in film isn’t for you. You’ll also have to grow some thicker skin — judging from your comment, people out here will walk all over you.

    Michael has probably been working in the industry longer than you’ve been alive. Maybe take your own advice and do some research.

  4. Tell me something (star)12p, how is a person supposed to move to LA when they have only $500 in their savings account, unemployed and live somewhere like New Zealand??
    Flight to LA from New Zealand cost NZD$1200 (= US$810).
    How the F is it supposed to happen? There are people across the globe reading this website, it’s not all about Americans!
    You’ve got some nerve saying “boo hoo, it’s an excuse” because it’s not an excuse, its a reason and an obstacle that this person is trying to overcome and was seeking advice from this website, which is evidence of them trying!
    Would you risk your life on that kind of “sacrifice”?
    Would you risk being homeless?
    Would you risk starving? Coz’ that’s what I feel is at stake if she or anyone else would fail.
    I bet ANYONE who wants to be in the Film Industry WOULD move to LA if were actually friggin possible! Someone in living in a crap small town in the USA could easily drive to LA and try to get work, but when you have to fly 10 hours to get there and pay hundreds of dollars, it’s a totally different story!
    I personally don’t give a crap if Michael Taylor’s advice was “general” it was flippin’ unnecessary, everyone knows the world won’t come to them, the phone isn’t gonna ring out of the blue. Everyone friggin knows that, it need not be even said, it’s patronising and really annoying! It’s dad advice! The kind you get from your dad who doesn’t have any better advice to give!
    P.S. They might walk all over her… but they might NOT!
    As a person who has studied psychology for their screenwriting career “Ann” appears to have a high sense of justice, which causes her to get frustrated and rant when morons like you don’t understand their situation or thought patterns. A person with that kind of ferocity will most likely be called a “dragon lady” or “ball buster” in her chosen field.
    P.P.S Actors are highly sensitive, yet they still work in the industry… F’n idiot!

  5. @Rock & Hard Place Supporter — You still don’t get it. No one cares about your “situation” except you. So its YOUR JOB to fix it. It’s YOUR JOB to make it. Not mine. Not anyone out here LA. Yours and yours alone. So suck it up and quit bitching. Also — there is a fucking giant movie studio in NZ — I suggest you start there.

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