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How to Land Your First Hollywood Job in Los Angeles

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How to Land Your First Hollywood Job in Los Angeles

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How to Land Your First Hollywood Job in Los Angeles

Today I thought I’d show you a job posting I wrote and offer a behind the scenes look at what employers are looking for.

A couple of years ago, I landed my first big job with New York Times bestselling author, Dennis Lehane. (Read this if you’re looking for help landing your first gig.)

The first thing I had to do?

Write the job posting for my job — an entry-level assistant position —  and send it to my friends. I had two weeks to find and train my new-hire, before Dennis had me watching/studying Mad Men and Deadwood for hours at a time #thestrugglewasreal.

See below for the official job description, and I’ll include my analysis between the lines. Here we go…

Job Description:

“[NAME OF COMPANY] (a literary management company that represents the authors of the books [A BUNCH OF BOOKS THAT GOT TURNED INTO MOVIES YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD OF, etc.)] seeks a new assistant to three literary managers.”

[Chris’s notes: Management company. In many cases, this means former agents who decided to get out of the agency grind and hang their own shingle. Can range from ambitious, young woman who is sick of trying to climb the ladder at one of the majors, OR a veteran agent who’s developed an excellent relationship with a star client and wants to produce with said client, e.g. Martin Scorsese and Chris Donnelly.

Three literary managers. Company is trying to cut costs (not a bad thing). They do that by “sharing” the assistant.]

Job Description:

“One year industry experience preferred — this is for someone who wants to work in representation.”

[Chris’s notes:Preferred. Not required. If you come in through a warm contact and are stellar, you have a good shot. For what it’s worth, I landed this job and I didn’t even have that warm contact that got me through the door. More on that later.

Wants to work in representation. Don’t talk about your ambition to be a director/screenwriter/actor. If asked, “Do you want to be an agent or manager?” there is only one correct answer. “Yes, I’ve given it a lot of thought and that’s definitely a path I’m interested in.”]

Job Description:

“Duties are standard assistant duties: rolling calls, scheduling, submission log maintenance, and tracking of bookings. For the right candidate, there are many opportunities to deal with clients directly, to learn to the ins-and-outs both film/tv contracts and book contracts, and find new clients.”

[Chris’s notes: Rolling calls, scheduling… Blah blah blah typical assistant bullshit.

Learn contracts. No legal department.]

“Standard rock-star assistant qualities apply (diligent, self-motivated, communicative, tough-skin, etc.) Beyond that, you must love books (reading, and also the business of) as a majority of our business comes from book-to-film deals. You must have ridiculous multitasking skills as you handle three desks and your own tasks.”

[Chris’s notes: Standard rock-star assistant qualities apply… This is pretty clever of me, if I do say so myself. This means, please don’t bullshit me. Don’t say your strengths are “communication.” I mean, you breathe, too, right? You have a pulse? Then self-motivation, thick skin, and blah blah blah are the minimum requirements. Tell me why you want this job in particular. Tell me why you’d be good for this job. I gave you the titles of our 5 biggest books/clients at the beginning of this job description, sooooooo perchance a good place to start is by researching those authors.

In my first cover letter for this company, I told them I heard one of their clients, Bobby Moresco, speak at my college, and he’s the reason why I moved to LA to work in Hollywood. That got me through the door.

Multitasking, three desks, your own tasks. Hmm, seems like I think this “3 desks” things is a pretty big deal. Perhaps I think it’s stressful, so I’ll want to know how you deal with pressure. Preferably in story form.]

Job Description:

“Big pluses: knowledge of both the LA Hollywood and NY Book landscape, and experience in book-to-film deals. Again, for someone who wants to work in representation.

Please send resumes (as attachments, not in the body of the email) to: [WORK EMAIL]. In the body of the email, please include a brief cover letter (two paragraphs max) why you feel you’re the right candidate based on the description above. To be clear, please don’t rehash the resume, just explain what value you’d bring to the company.

Submissions that don’t follow these instructions won’t be considered.”

[Chris’s notes: Submissions that don’t follow. This is a follows-the-direction-test. So follow the directions.]

“Position to start [DATE], with training to start asap.”

What should you do next? Go to our jobs page, where we list current openings in Los Angeles, and spend some time reading between the lines before you apply. It might help you land the gig that opens all the doors.

Was this helpful? If so, could you do me a favor? Leave a comment or email me with your biggest questions around applying for a job in Hollywood. It could be about your resume, cover letter, job postings, etc. I’ll answer the best questions in future posts. Thanks!

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Christopher Ming

Hi, I’m Chris. I build online products and help people move to Los Angeles. I’m a product developer at a start-up where we help thousands of students build their professional networks, create their own online businesses, overcome social anxiety, and lose weight & build muscle. Prior to this, I worked with NYT Bestselling author and screenwriter Dennis Lehane (The Given Day, Shutter Island, and Mystic River, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Bloodline). I started out my career asking Sony executives if they’d like their salad dressing on the side.

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