Sometimes it seems like in the last three decades I’ve read a million different resumes, and interviewed about as many people looking for jobs. After all that experience, one big thing bugs me, and I think it’s holding a lot of people back from getting better jobs: The lack of a specific skill. Here’s the situation:
I was sitting in my office the other day talking to a job candidate and asked him the big questions: So what are you best at doing? Where do you really rock? What could you potentially be the best in the world at? How can you help our company?
His answer: “I think I’m really good at connecting people.”
Folks, “connecting people” is a good thing, but it’s not a marketable skill unless you’re connecting people with potential investors or donors. In 95% of cases, a skill (in the entertainment business) should sound something like:
“I’m a multi-camera television director with a great deal of experience in live programming.”
“I’m a video editor, and I’m particularly strong with designing motion graphics.”
“I’m a script writer and dialogue is my great strength.”
“I’m a video shooter and I’ve shot in more than 20 countries in very risky and dangerous settings.”
“I can budget and manage multiple productions and supervise film or video crews on location.”
People will actually pay money for these and similar skills, and for entry level or below-the-line jobs in entertainment (or most other fields), skills matter.
And if you don’t have much experience? Still focus on skills. You may not be a master of a skill yet, but let the interviewer know what you’re focused on, and the path you’re taking toward mastery. So in your interview, stop responding about your big skill with “Working with teams” or “Coordinating people,” or “Highly motivational,” or any other high-sounding talents. All those things are great individual abilities, but people today are looking for someone who can very specifically help their company or project succeed. Find out what that is, and align an actual marketable skill to accomplish that.
No producer in town that I know of is looking for another employee who is “good at connecting people” unless they also have a real world skill. Unless of course, it’s “connecting” people to the coffee machine…