Somehow, there's only been a couple days in the past decade plus that I haven't had any work. So I do know a little something about getting jobs.
And I know a little about hiring artists too. In this post I'll offer some advice to job seekers young and old.
Some of these are obvious, some idiosyncratic -and that's an important thing to remember: the world is full of humans and humans have peculiarities. Someone else might disagree with these points, that person might also hire artists. Everybody's different.
We'll assume you've just moved to town and are starting from scratch. Or you've been working on the same project for years and seek to spread your wings.
This means you've got to contact people you don't know. Scary.
• have a website, or even a reel on YouTube. Sounds obvious, right? You'd be surprised.
• don't be stingy. Send out emails to every possible employer -studios, TV stations, labs, post houses. An email doesn't hurt you. Anyone who'd get angry at you for sending your links wouldn't hire you anyway.
• be selective in your follow ups. If you send out 100 letters, maybe 10 of them are worth pursuing.
• follow up on the phone. Say "I emailed a resume to XXX and wanted to make sure you've gotten it and see if there's anything else you need."
• don't nag. There are a dozen ways to say "Don't call us, we'll call you." Get it.
• don't nag. We try to answer every email we're sent. Obviously, we don't always. Generally, this happens every two or three weeks. If someone sends a follow up email, it bothers me. If someone sends a third or fourth -forget it.
• try to get an in. If you know somebody who knows somebody who knows someone at the studio -use it. Favors are currency. I'll almost always meet with someone who is recommended by a colleague.
• don't ask for an "informational interview". Its passive-aggressive. Unless you're a high school student or are looking for life advice, or information.
The goal of the resume sending is to get a face to face interview.
• bring your work. Reel. Portfolio. Sometimes people don't do this. Imagine.
• know what you want to do. I'll always ask this question: "What do you want to do?" The answer I always get: "Anything!". Yes, I know that you will do anything; what do you want to do? It's a big deal. If you want to be a storyboard artist or if you want to do effects compositing or if you want to animate "Wallace and Gromit" -the answer is important. The answer probably won't prevent me from hiring you, but it may sway things in your favor.
• know who you're talking to. Heck, we put up a blog every day. Everybody has a website. When I pitch a project, I find out whatever I can about the prospective client. You may research someone and find out that you don't want to work with them.
• dress how you dress. I don't know of any dress codes in animation. So if someone comes to an interview in a tie, I expect them to continue dress that way. If you plan on wearing a mustard stained T-shirt every day, don't pretend otherwise. Of course, how you dress counts.
• ask questions. I always ask: "Do you have anything you'd like to ask me?" The answer: "Uh, no..." Presumably the interviewer has been in the field you are presumably interested in for several years. And there's not a single thing you want to ask? Really? Golden opportunity...
Maybe I'll add on to this if I think of anything else. I'll follow up with a "How to put together your reel" post in the future.