Mar 12, 2015

Landing a job in Los Angeles: what you need to know

This post is originally from May 2013 and has been updated. 

I receive, almost daily, at least two messages or emails about how to get a job in LA, or how to get my job. Which is flattering, to say the least. These emails go on to explain they've read my blog and relate to how I feel, the worries I have and had, and find comfort that someone else out there has the same anxieties, curiosity, faith and determination as them. Which thrills me beyond belief, because that's one thing I want this blog to do: be something people can to relate to.

Unfortunately, my days are long, and I rarely have time to write back on Facebook or email... so I figured I'd break down some of the key questions and concerns I get and answer as best I can. 

First off: I'm humbled that you all even took the time to write me, and that you think my job is awesome. I think my job is awesome too! But I'd be remiss if I didn't address a few things: I'm 28. This isn't my first rodeo — nothing fell into my lap, and I've been doing this quietly for several years. It wasn't until the past year and a half people started taking notice! But I have a learned a few things in my almost six years (SIX!!! OH MY GOD) here in Los Angeles that have been helpful, hurtful in some instances, and mostly just insightful. Attribute it to the ol' "lessons learned" file, folks.

Learn more by reading my #IamaGIRLBOSS feature on Recycled Novelty 

Some of these emails have questions, which I'll respond to, but also I would like to offer some perspective, too. First one (identifying info blurred out, obviously):

I already responded to this lovely lady and got into how I got involved with my job. I have to commend her for something right off the bat though: MOVING! That is really half the struggle. I know everyone banks on moving to smaller markets to keep the competition at bay, and it's true that movies are filming more and more out of Louisiana, Texas, the Carolinas and New Mexico because it's cheaper and people are getting tax credits, but they're hiring all the people for those movies in California, because that's where everyone is cast, that's where all those who were cast agents, managers, publicists and basically anything and everything else in the entertainment industry live, too. There are always technicalities and exceptions, but to quote a book I shouldn't have ever read in high school (He's Just Not That Into You), "Assume you're the rule. Not the exception."

It's a hard thing to come to terms with, I know. Tip #1 is, basically, suck it up and move to Cali. 

Here's the other thing: I did not recommend any jobs at my company for her. Not because she isn't great or doesn't have the drive or ambition, but I honestly don't know what is available. And, if there were a hosting position open, I have no say so in that. BUT WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANTLY (please, someone catch which rap song I'm referencing by that) is that I don't refer people I don't know personally. Don't take it personal. (Heh.)

Of course I've had friends who introduce me to their friends and I pull favors from time to time, but the moment you refer someone and they're terrible, they not only tarnish their reputation, but your own. Just like I wouldn't recommend a beauty product I haven't tested and tried, I won't recommend or even pass along resumes unless I know the person. Or unless I have a specific feeling about them. :)

This email solicits the same response from the first email. But to further elaborate: I used to work with high profile agents and managers, and like a broken record, they'd consistently talk to me (besides asking when the latest FedEx pickup was) about how being in LA wasn't necessary — it was mandatory.

Living anywhere else is a risk. Nobody wants to hire you in another state. Well, okay, I'm aware of the exceptions. Like my sorority sister who landed an amazing job at NBCUni and was just transplanted to LA from NYC (I'm assuming she had some amazing references and excellent interviews). But most recruiters are wondering this: "What happens if they get the job and six months later they end up hating the location and leaving?" Because you will hate LA. You will loathe this damn place. Not to mention, phone calls and Skyping more difficult than a candidate showing up at your audition location. You can't half-ass it if you really want to get somewhere.

Speaking of LA, and hating it... that's a fact of life. LA is not welcoming. It's not easy to navigate. (Hollywood? North Hollywood? Beverly Hills Adjacent?! Take the 101 to where?!) (Exhibit A.) It takes you an hour to get six miles on the highway; you have to validate everything because if you don't, you'll end up paying $12 to park for a 10 minute trip to Target. There are virtually no parking lots, just annoying structures that have tiny parking spots that won't fit a decent SUV. Everywhere valets, but it's $10-$20 and the valets expect a generous tip. You will valet to go to the mall, to the doctor's office; to the bar.

Getting a round of drinks is the equivalent to straight up pouring a tank of gas onto the concrete, instead of into your car. Every guy is either A) dirt poor and chasing his dream (I applaud you, dudes, but I am not your bank account), B) a mama's boy living off his Daddy's money (he's probably doing a ton of drugs), or C) he's self-made and loaded with too much gel in his hair and a sense that women are expendable.

After all that,  I need a cocktail.

Okay, enough with that. But really, LA is hard to love, man. It's real hard. I always say this: give it two years. The first year, you're still trying to get your bearings, and make friends, and find a work-life balance. Or just find work in general. But then, after you pass the 12 month mark, you start to meet more people and enjoy LA for what it is.

Let's get this out of the way: it's beautiful. There's great weather ALL THE DAMN TIME! Also, there are beautiful trails to hike, and amazing restaurants to explore. There are beach towns that are so picturesque, you wonder if you're in a movie or not.

Palm trees are everywhere, bomb diggity bakeries, probably the best shopping in a metro area, ever. If you are looking to live a healthier lifestyle, this place is great because you can always find a gluten-free, veggie, vegan option on any menu, and there are plenty of speciality food places to buy a meal too. (Makes it hard to go back to Texas sometimes.) There are farmer's markets several times throughout the week with the best produce, fruit and fish you can find. There are a ton of workouts to choose from: your typical gym, then specialty classes likes SoulCycle, PopPhysique, Barry's Bootcamp... and not to mention everything that is now popular around the country originated here: In 'N Out, Drybar... we have a lot to offer. And, if you look in the right places, you can meet some superb guys. There are a lot of awesome, interesting, inspiring people who live here.

I'm being serious, JLAW!

Bottom line: just remember that anything worth having isn't worth giving up on after six months.

Moving on...

I won't post this next email convo, but I had someone email me about wanting a PA position, but didn't have a resume. Then, when she responded two weeks later saying she had her resume, she never attached it.

Here's the deal: if you are trying to sell yourself, always include your resume. Do not make the other person, the one that you're asking a favor from, do any of the work. Make it easy on them. After all, they are not working for you. If you need help, you might find people won't respond if you're making things difficult instead of laying it all out in front of them. Always attach your resume and a cover letter —better yet, put it all on your website and send a direct link to them. People initially may not want to respond, but then they see your credentials or like your writing style and BAM. You might have just made the connection you need.

If you need any inspiration to attach your work/video/resume etc. to your messages, by all means, read this article on Emily Belden. Emily and I follow each other on Twitter but we've never met. I think we "met" through the Twittersphere, and I instantly fell in love with her writing style. She's spent time pitching her book and now (forgive me, I'm not 100% up-to-date) has an editor AND a publisher — all good things for this chick. This article depicts why she's effing awesome. Also, she made her entire floor out of 60,000 pennies. PENNIES PEOPLE. Home Depot featured it on their Instagram; she's been written up everywhere for her penny passion. I mean, it's awesome.

And if you're ever planning on writing a book, she pretty much murders it when it comes to her proposal. (I'm taking notes, for sure.)

When it comes to emails about my job and my workplace, specifically, do me and you a favor: look for job openings. If there aren't any, I can't help you. If you send me a job description with your rezzie, it's easier for me to forward that to our HR manager than for me to interrogate you about what job you want me to help you get an interview for. I get questions about starting a new career and wanting to jump in my shoes, and I get requests about doing anything just to get a foot in the door.

I have a few things to say about that. (Shocker!) Everyone has to put in some effort and pay their dues. I did. But know your worth, too. What makes you valuable? Work on selling that. Also, have a clear direction of what you want. Nobody got anywhere by saying, "Well, I'd do this, or this, or if you need someone to do this..." People like to hire employees with determination, gumption and a vision. If you don't have a vision for yourself, how are you going to have a vision for their company?

One thing to remember is that, if you think you can do it, you can, but it's going to require hard work. And also, it's not that easy! I think a lot of people brush Giuliana Rancic off as a red carpet host and nothing more, but that takes talent and hard work. The fact that she does that live and doesn't make it awkward? I respect that. And I respected her even more after watching red carpet shows without her. It's not a walk in the park, kids!

In the same vein, I worked very hard for my gig. I do a lot of things many people don't know behind the scenes at work — I'm sure people just see that I'm posting videos about makeup or interviewing Miley Cyrus and think, "Hey, I can do that!" And maybe you can. But I'm the one researching the interview questions, working with editors to break news, working with post-production to make the segment look and sound good; developing a social plan to make sure people not only see, but also respond to my segments. It's not all frilly and fabulous. Not to mention, I've been with the company three years; I know the voice and the brand. I know what's acceptable for us and what isn't. And like any other host or producer, we spend long hours at work, whether it's actually filming a video or going to network with brands and agencies. We're also required to be on-call in case something breaking happens.

So coming to a host and saying something like, "don't worry, I'm not trying to take your job!" is a) worthy of the most side-eye possible and b) a bit condescending. Yes, we know you're asking for help, and we're happy to do that, but "taking my job" isn't as easy as you think it might be.

With that said, I'm not going to keep posting emails, but I want to thank each of you for reaching out. It is my mission to respond to you all! I do read everything. It's just hard sometimes to balance things I'd like to do (like blog and write, which I rarely do these days) and let my creative juices flow and correspond through email.

To put a big, fat, red bow on this post, here are a few more things to remember:

  • People don't have time. They just don't. Asking for 10 minutes of someone's time is harder than asking someone for a $10,000 loan, especially if you don't know the person. I did this all the time when I first moved here. I asked for a coffee date, 10 minutes on the phone, an informational interview. I wanted to meet everyone and make those connections! I had wonderful people give me their time. (I plan on giving people my time!) But make it worth their while. Because let's be honest... meeting people you don't know at all can be tragic. Online dating, anyone? 
  • Get involved. I don't care if it's a basketball league at your gym or your alumni association, find a group to be a part of. It will be an easy segway to network and meet people, who will introduce you to other people. (Novel concept!) Some of the best connections I made in LA were due to my alumni crew out here. (Just don't be the drunk idiot at the game watching parties. Everyone will hate you.) 
  • Know your passion and FOCUS. The minute you start thinking you can do everything, you will fail. If you came out to LA to be on reality TV, own that and go after it. Why do you think  top athletes are where they are today? They practiced their crafts for years. (For eva-eva?) After a few months of failure, don't decide you're not getting there fast enough, and that you'd be better suited at something else, and switch careers to get a quick fix — because then you're back to square one. Find one thing you love, go after it, and keep going until you succeed. Hell, find one thing you're good at and go after it. You will build your way up to attain your goals and then be able to spread your wings. For example, and forgive me, but you all know I adore Clay Matthews. Homeboy comes from a long line of professional athletes. In high school, he had about a .01% chance of making it to the big leagues. His dad even refused to start him, allegedly, because he was undersized. But he decided to go with his gut: he wanted to be a part of the USC tradition in his family, so he applied, got accepted and managed to walk-on to the football team. A risky decision, but you all know how that story ends up.
  • Don't make excuses. If you keep making excuses for why you can't get a job, you will never get it. Make it happen. I really don't need to explain this. Just... do it? Damn Nike. 


Unknown said...

Thanks very much for your large information .And knowledge full description . I think it is Sus a topic that many kinds of people face many problems. thanks for this.
meeting people,

Bailey said...

Good stuff here, Kirbie. Here's some advice I posted for my readers about keeping one's sanity while unemployed:

I'm seriously not just trying to solicit my blog, just sharing. :)

molocono said...

This advice is spot on! I moved to LA almost a year ago and it has been tough finding a job in post-production. Every time I want to quit on my goals, I talk myself into sticking with it. It's tough, but you have to work hard and believe it's gonna happen.

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