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Career Coach: Time Marches On -- Applying for Jobs

Follow these tips for successful submission follow-up.

Often, when an applicant applies for a job, it seems that time drags on forever before he or she gets any response. Sometimes, it’s because people at the studio are busy doing other things -- like producing a show, meeting with investors, network decision-making, etc. But as time marches on, you become anxious, fearing that the studio you’ve applied to has no interest.

One of my career coaching clients recently asked, “How long do I wait before contacting a studio after my last email?”

I asked three recruiters and a studio executive to weigh in:

Suze Datz, freelance visual effects recruiter, greater Los Angeles area

PKT: How long should an applicant wait to follow-up after submitting an application/portfolio?

SD: At least a week.

PKT: What is the preferred medium for sending a reel? online?  Link only?

SD: An online reel / portfolio - preferably with a link to the artist’s website.

PKT: Do you need hard copies of reel or portfolio? DVDs?

SD: At times there’s a need for a hard copy.

PKT: How often should an artist follow up with you?

SD: An artist should follow up when they have new content on their reel, updated contact information or an updated resume. I don’t mind it if people hear about a job opening and contact me about it sooner than when they have new work on their reel, just as a reminder that they’re out there and available.

PKT: How do you want an artist to follow up?

SD: Email

PKT: Do you give out tests for applicants?

SD: Some clients ask for that

PKT: Do you hire Americans? British subjects? Indian nationals?

SD: Yes. Depending on the studio, the position, etc.

PKT: Do you have internships?

SD: Most places I’ve worked with have internships

Aaron Parry, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Deluxe 3D LLC. and Deluxe Animation Studios, Burbank

PKT: How long should an applicant wait to follow-up after submitting an application/portfolio?

AP: Reasonably, about 2 weeks.

PKT: What is the preferred medium for sending a reel?

AP: I personally prefer Vimeo for privacy reasons as well as ability to add custom reels.

PKT: Do you need hard copies of a reel or portfolio? DVDs?

AP: No

PKT: How often should an artist follow up with you?

AP: We should have given a time frame in the job description for follow up, however I would say two weeks after submission for a specific job, and 4 weeks for a general submission.

PKT: How do you want an artist to follow up?

AP: They should follow up with our recruiter.

PKT: Do you give out tests for applicants?

AP: Yes, but not for all positions.

PKT: Do you hire Americans? British subjects? Indian nationals?

AP: We have a studio in India so yes, we do hire Indian nationals, but do not generally provide visas for hire in North America.

PKT: Do you have internships at Stereo D?

AP: Yes

Rosie Server, senior recruiter, Sony Imageworks, Vancouver & Culver City

PKT: How long should an applicant wait to follow-up after submitting an application/portfolio?

RS: If you haven't heard back within two weeks, that would be a good time to contact.

PKT: What is the preferred medium for sending a reel?

RS: Online personal websites or links to reels is preferred.

PKT: Any preference of location of reel?

RS: Vimeo seems to be the best site for viewing demo reels. It is also easier for hiring managers to view on Linux machines. YouTube is great as well. Both allow you to embed the video on to your personal website.

PKT: Do you need hard copies of a reel or portfolio? DVD?

RS: Online only! We have stopped taking hard copies of reels or portfolios.

PKT: How often should an artist follow up with you?

RS: I wouldn't say there is a specific time frame in which to follow up. If I say that we will be hiring again in the fall and it is March, it's best not to contact me 2 weeks later. Ideally, 2-3 times a year is best and when you are close to finishing a project.

PKT: When or how do you want an artist to follow up?

RS: Email is preferred for me. My LinkedIn has over 20K connections, so messages can get backlogged on there.

PKT: Do give out tests for applicants?

RS: We do for certain disciplines like pipeline and engineering roles.

PKT: Do you hire Americans? British subjects? Indian nationals?

RS: We try to hire as many qualified applicants as we can. We will consider applicants worldwide, as long as we are able to obtain a permit within the allotted time for the production. Some countries are a bit more complicated to obtain visas from than others.

PKT: Do you have internships at Sony?

RS: Yes, we do! We have a summer internship called "ICAD." It is an eight-week program in Vancouver. Details can be found here: http://imageworks.com/icad/

Bethany Phillips, VFX and technical recruiter, Method Studios, Vancouver

PKT: How long should an applicant wait to follow-up after submitting an application/portfolio?

BP: While there is no steadfast rule on this, it's always better if candidates give us at least 2-3 business days before following up. This give us a chance to receive feedback from any leads/supervisors who specialize in the animation field.

PKT: What is the preferred medium for sending a reel?

BP: A link is the perfect way to send a reel. Sometimes candidates send the whole file through Dropbox or Google Docs, and this is difficult for us to open. A reminder to always include the password if the reel link is protected. The same goes for a portfolio--a link is ideal and easily accessible.

PKT: Any preference of location of reel?

BP:  As long as the reel/portfolio is easy to open and watch, there is no preference on website. A big reminder to candidates who are sending a personal website: be sure that your website is up to date and renewed. There have been many times where an applicant sent a link to their personal website, which was a dead URL with nothing on it.

PKT: Do you need hard copies of reel or portfolio? DVDs?

BP: No, we do not need a hard copy of anything.

PKT: How often should an artist follow up with you?

BP: I would recommend following up every 2-3 months or so. However, many recruiters will give a time frame on a good time to follow up if they can see you potentially joining the studio at a later date.

PKT: When or how do you want an artist to follow up?

BP: Usually the best way for an artist to follow up is via LinkedIn or email address if you have it. This gives us a digital trail. Most recruiters are quite busy, so they can then flag the conversation in order to make sure they respond later.

PKT: Do give out tests for applicants?

BP:  It really depends on the department the applicant is applying in. For animation, no.

PKT: Do you hire Americans? British subjects? Indian nationals?

BP: We hire candidates from all over the world. However, because of NAFTA, in Canada, it is easier to hire candidates from the United States than other foreign countries. Junior and even intermediate candidates from outside of Canada should be aware of Canada’s specific requirements in order to obtain working permits. This includes both experience and educational requirements.

PKT: Do you have internships at Method?

BP: An internship program is something we’re currently working on and we hope to roll it out later this year.

In conclusion, candidates should continue to express an interest in the company and submit new material even if rejected the first time. Here’s a bit more advice from Lance Wilder, who I worked with on The Simpsons. Lance, one of the artists who has worked on The Simpsons since 1990, was rejected several times but persisted and listened to feedback on his tests.

“You went and asked David, Wes Archer, and Rich Moore what they liked (and what they didn't) about my Simpsons tests,” writes Lance. “I re-did them in 48 hours, FedEx'd them back to you and that did it! May of 1990....5 days after graduating in June, I started on The Simpsons. People asked why I did all that and moved 3,000 miles to work on this show. From the beginning, my response was, ‘Because, I need a job, I have no money and this show is great! And it could definitely go 5 seasons...100 episodes and become syndicated’...boy was I off!’”

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Pamela Kleibrink Thompson has had numerous jobs in animation and knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the hiring desk. She was production manager on The Simpsons and called Lance Wilder to tell him he was hired. She helps companies recruit animation and visual effects artists and designers, producers, and others. She also speaks at schools and universities and presented the commencement address at Art Institute of Tampa. Pamela is available for personalized career coaching. You can reach her at PamRecruit87@gmail.com (link sends e-mail).

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