Congratulations! You’ve decided to become an assistant in the entertainment industry. While your parents may be starting to wish they’d bought a pair of Porsche 911s with the cash they dropped on your degree, you know better. It will only be a couple years of rolling calls and walking dogs, and soon they’ll be able to borrow YOUR Porsche (although obviously you bought a Tesla instead).
Before you start fantasizing about your independence from fossil fuels, let’s remember that there are thousands of other people who share your foolish dream, and unless your last name is [insert last name of Hollywood mogul with children here but I’m not going to be specific so as not to offend anyone], they are richer and better-connected than you are.
BUT THERE’S HOPE, and it comes in the form of the UTA Job List. Released on a biweekly basis, the Job List is a collection of industry job and internship postings that can be applied for directly, usually through email. While it’s not necessarily a public list, the document is often disseminated across the web in less than 24 hours, one of the most reliable sources being the Hollywood Temp Diaries.
Before you apply, consider the following: most of these postings come from small companies without HR departments. The first person reading your resume is almost guaranteed to be an assistant himself, if not an unpaid intern. And since the Job List is so widely available to those who seek it, that person will be receiving hundreds — possibly thousands — of applications. So, here are some easy tips to avoid having your resume promptly deleted.
1. Act fast. Know when the list will be posted so you can apply as close to the posting date as possible. The longer that post has been up, the faster the emails are going to come in, and the more tired and pissed off that resume-reader is going to be. If you’re among the first hundred, it not only increases your visibility, but it also gives the appearance that you are on the pulse.
2. Read the post. For the love of god, they’re like five sentences. If I post that I’m seeking an assistant to a director, and you say you want to apply for the agent’s assistant position, then I assume you are copy-paste spamming your letter to the whole list and therefore don’t give a shit. DELETE.
3. Attach smart. Save your resume as a PDF rather than attaching a Word document. Adobe Reader and OSX’s Preview are less memory-intensive programs than Word for the assistants on ancient computers. They also won’t see a squiggly red line under your spelling mistakes. Speaking of which…
4. Don’t make spelling mistakes. Even if you don’t know what a PDF is, Clippy the Microsoft Paperclip can help you find the squiggly red lines that indicate spelling mistakes and teach you how to correct them. If you don’t like Clippy, you can turn him into a dog!
5. Be proud of who you are! That is to say, put your name on everything. Adding it to the filename of your resume will make it easier for me to save it and find it later. I would even put your name in the subject line of your email — there are going to be a million with the subject “Executive Assistant Position” but only one that says “Assistant Position – L. Skywalker.”
6. Work that body. I’m referring, of course, to the body of your email. If you’re not pasting in your full cover letter (as well as attaching it), you better write a little note expressing your interest in the job and thanking me for taking the time to read your application. Nothing puts you in the trash can faster than sending an email that just says “Sent from my iPhone.” FUCK YOUR IPHONE.
7. Do as you’re told – sometimes. Usually, if the post has requirements listed, they’re listed for a reason. “Must have transportation?” A bus pass won’t do, you hobo. BUT — if they demand “one year of agency experience,” you can probably still be considered if your resume has a suitable substitute. Ideally, you’ve completed an industry internship, or you’ve held a job that requires administrative skills — including but not limited to filling water carafes, picking up the RIGHT kind of dog food, and choosing easy-to-locate brunch venues.
7. Don’t be cute. I don’t know who told you to make dumb jokes in your cover letter, or draw little pictures in the corners of your resume, but nine times out of ten I’m going to roll my eyes and delete you. Ten out of ten if this is your first job.
8. If at first you don’t succeed…a lot of Job List posts will be up for a long time. If you didn’t hear a response, that doesn’t mean you were rejected. No one ever decided NOT to hire someone for following up on an application. I’m not saying you should re-email every two days until I file a restraining order. But maybe your email was deleted by accident, or maybe the reader was feeling overwhelmed and deleted 200 resumes sight unseen. If you’re the person who will eventually get this job, then make sure your fate isn’t changed by a technicality.
The Job List can be intimidating to an outsider. But it’s the best chance you have at getting hired with no biz connections to speak of. Just be honest, be professional, and remember to put yourself if the reader’s shoes.
Oh, and remember to attach your resume and cover letter, you idiot.