Every employer wants to find the right person. Targeting the companies you are interested in, learning about their operations and future plans, is an important step in landing the job you really want. Your diligent research will pay off in the interview because you will impress them by your knowledge and enthusiasm for their company - you know how you can contribute.
Whether you are a veteran of the industry or a student just starting out on your career, you will have to do some homework to find your next job. Homework involves knowing what you want and where you can get it.
The first thing you need to do is know yourself. What do you like to do? What kind of work are you good at? Are you a generalist--a jack of all trades--or a specialist? If you are a generalist, you may be interested in working for a smaller company that can utilize all those skills. If you are a specialist, seek work at a larger company where the work is segmented among many different departments.
Know what part of the animation industry interests you. Do you love games? Do you live and breathe special effects for motion pictures? Have you always wanted to work on the Internet? Do you get excited about the latest commercial?
If there is a segment of the industry that thrills you, go to the library or log on and research companies that deal with that segment. Many companies have web sites that detail the kind of work they are doing. Some have advice for applicants about how to apply. Many have job boards on their web sites. If the company is public, stockholder reports offer company information. There are also many web sites that follow specific segments of the industry such as visualfx.com or gamejobs.com.
Find out what productions your target company is involved with. Become familiar with its work before you send in any of your own. Are the company's products something you can be proud of? That you want to be part of creating? Are there people you can learn from? Can you grow there?
Gather information about companies when you attend industry meetings, trade shows or when you read trade publications like Animation World Network and Animation Magazine. Ask the company for a press package. Review its publicity materials. Find out what its long-range goals are. What is its mission statement? What is its target market? Are sales climbing? Is the company growing or struggling to survive? Is it new and cutting edge? What is its reputation?
If you know the company's products you can customize your marketing materials (cover letter, resume, portfolio and demo reel). Know what they want to see and how they want to see it (VHS tape, CD-Rom, web site, etc) . Many companies post portfolio requirements on their web site or will send information to applicants on request.
Decide what work environment you want. What is important to you? Do you want a life outside of work? The best way to determine if this company is for you is to talk to employees. Ask them: What are the working conditions like? What kind of hours do they expect from their employees? Many entertainment companies have long working hours during crunch times, but is this the normal mode of operation? What is management like? What are most of the employees like? Are they entrepreneurial? What is the company founder like? What is important to him or her?
Why do all this homework? It will pay off in the interview because you will impress them by your knowledge and enthusiasm for their company - you know how you can contribute. Everyone wants to find someone who will fit in and this research will help you convince the interviewer(s) that you fit in. But you will also have confidence and excitement about working at the company since you have done your homework and know the positive attributes of the place. Do your best work, keep a winning, professional attitude and hopefully you will have a long career at the company you have selected.
If you have a question about a work or career issue that you would like answered in this column, please write us and tell us what you'd like to know.
Animation World Network 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600 Los Angeles, CA 90036 www.awn.com
Animation Magazine30101 Agoura Court, Suite 110Agoura CA 91301www.animag.com
gamejobs.com -- a site that deals with the games industry
visualfx.com -- a site that deals with the visual effects industry
Pamela Thompson is a recruiter and career coach who lives in Sun Valley, California. She is currently recruiting for Big Idea Productions and Stan Lee Media.