Hello Journal (my old friend)!
So, as you may or may not know, I'm getting to expand my team (huzzah!) and it has given me the opportunity to review all sorts of candidates' resumés, reels, and the like. Over the years, I've learned a good bit about what it's like to be on this side of the table and I'd like to use this entry as a platform to learn youze a thing or two about what (not) to do when applying for a job. Like. Literally anywhere. As well as for an audio position!
BOXER-BRIEF DISCLAIMER, Y'ALL: If I come across as a pompous ass, I apologize. I'm just trying to give some advice with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor along the way. I bear no ill-will towards any candidates who apply (even if/when some of y'all do some silly things). It takes a lot to just apply to a company and it can be super intimidating, and I definitely get it. So kudos to you for getting that far! I honestly don't mean for this to be a deterrent, but as a mildly(?) humorous way to help you strengthen yourself as a candidate for here, there, or anywhere.
I should also state that these opinions are my own and not in any way the view of the company as a whole.
Let's get started, shall we?
1) READ THE JOB POSTING. LIKE. ALL OF IT.
I made sure there was one very key, bolded, addition at the very beginning of our job posting, as there's this weird misunderstanding that I'm looking for a composer for my team (hint: I'm not.):
"Applicants that do not include a demo reel that highlights your sound design and mix work will not be considered. This is not a composer position."
And yet, 50% of the submissions I received either had zero reels and/or were composers looking for work. The problem here is that in the limited time I have to review resumes, I want to maximize the effort I take to listen to potential candidate's (who've read the rules') submissions. SO, when I'm scrolling through the applicants, if you did not include a reel or you mention your years of music creation and a link to your soundcloud page, your resume will likely be pushed off and potentially not even considered.
TL;DR this is the first test. Pass and you advance to the next round. Fail, and death by snoo-snoo (or just, you know, you won't get the job).
2) If you're going to apply for every position on a company's website, follow these rules:
Don't do it.
But seriously, employers will know when you apply to every role. It looks incredibly unprofessional and likely tells me that you're just a fan of the company and are trying to find your way in, but you don't really have anything to offer me/my team. The only time where this is even remotely acceptable is when you're applying to like-roles (e.g. Sound Designer, ADR Engineer, Mix Engineer, etc.). I'd even go as far as saying applying to a role for Editorial and Sound is acceptable, as there are similarities. But if you're going to do this, write different resumes and/or provide different reels!
3) FFS. INCLUDE A REEL.
9/10 times I start with a reel before a resume. If the reel is good, I'll look to see what's on the resume. I've had applicants straight out of college submit sharper reels than many 'veterans'. Seriously. Make a reel. It'll impress me if you even go as far as to make it private Vimeo video and give me a cool secret password. 10/10 cool. cool cool. cool.
LIFE PRO TIP: Include in your video (or anywhere that's visible) your contributions to the content you're showing.
"Name | Title of thing | Sound Design, Foley"
"Name | Title of thing | Creature vocalizations"
"Name | Title of thing | ADR"
If you don't include this, I can either assume you've done everything and/or nothing for a clip, and I'd rather not guess.
4) BIG ONE HERE.
Do your research on the company you're applying to. If you send a generic email that just reads as: 'Hi, I am interested in your company. I'm a good candidate because <insert generic good qualities/traits>. Hope to hear from you!' a small kitten forgets how to meow. Forever.
Okay, so I might be paraphrasing a weeee bit about the generic line, but you get the point, right? Read the post, study the company, write a cover letter that expresses what you know about them and why this is the company you're interested in and go from there. Some folks don't like cover letters, but I love them. It's my way of getting to understand the type of conversationalist you are.
Let's get super audio specific for a hot second.
5) Reel content, length, and basically all the things I have to say about them.
A) 2-3 Minutes (Max)
As much as I'd love to watch your 48 hour film festival submission in its entirety, it's likely longer than I have time to commit to one candidate. I'm sorry and I love you, but this just isn't going to
work out. It's not you. It's your reel length.
B) Put your best work first!
At least to some degree. I'm sure you've got plenty of cool stuff in your reel, but just make sure you put the coolest stuff first. I want something that'll grab me as soon as your reel starts! If it doesn't grab me in the first 10-20 seconds (or so), I have to start clicking around, and then I might miss something cool.
C) Include relevant content to the posting you're applying to.
This one's tricky. If you've been working in live-action for 5 years and are applying for an animation/games position, it'll be a bit more difficult to compare your work to other candidates that have animation/games centric reels. That being said, it doesn't disqualify you, at all. Any reel that showcases your abilities is better than nothing! It's just helpful to have works that are more closely in-line with the position you're applying for.
D) But Chris, I've not worked on any animation or games!
Dude. It's like you're reading my mind. I have got you covered!
My first reel comprised solely of trailer replacement content. What's that you ask? Well, start by heading over to the Youtubes and find a trailer/scenes from a show/film/game that you think you can get creative with, find a way to.. acquire.. said video, remove all the audio, and design some fresh new hotness for that sweet, sweet baby to show the world (or just, you know, potential employers). THOUGH! As an additional thought, don't be afraid to show others your reels! I've got an open door policy when it comes to reviewing reels. If you want me to take a look at it for critiques (or just for funsies), shoot me an email here: email@example.com. Please note: I don't want this to be construed as me saying 'I am great and my opinions are the bestest' I'm merely just saying, 'Hey, friend. Need an extra set of ears on your work? Let me check it out! I'd love to hear that fresh new hotness.' (Yeah, I know, sweet callback.)
E) Don't make your portions super incredibly long winded.
Unlike this journal entry, your individual pieces should be concise. Don't make me watch 50s of a scene to just see that super sweet last 10s of that same scene. It usually doesn't pay off (for all parties involved) and you've just gone and wasted a perfectly usable 50s for other awesome things. I get that context helps in some circumstances, but be clever about it.
I'm fairly certain this covers a pretty large majority of the things I wanted to cover. For your benefit, my want to get some things out of my brain, and because I clearly don't update this thing nearly enough. I really do appreciate the overwhelmingly large amount of folks interested in joining my team - I really am. This addition is definitely a bit overdue and I'm SO excited to have <insert your name here> join my team. This year's going to be <insert a mix of adjectives that describe both enjoyable and chaotic expectations for the year better than I can currently type>.
Alright. I think my brain has officially turned off at this point.
9... 8... 7...