It took a lot of thought before posting this. Full Beam Productions are passionate about our Full Beam Team, and about who we choose to work for us. But we understand that it is a very saturated market which we work in, and we always appreciate the hard work which people put in, simply to be told by us that right now, they're just not good enough, or that we haven't got any work available for them.
It's a hard job - something which I thought I would revel in. What better than sifting through people's profiles, putting dirty black lines through "terrible" applicants. Surely, a positive joy to be living how the other half lives, after so many years of being told no. But in fact, it didn't work like that. It didn't work like that at all.
We posted our first advert for singers through Entsweb
- a site which both myself and Jim have personally used in the years before setting up Full Beam Productions. It was a simple ad, explaining that we needed people on an ad hoc basis, for performing to our residents in care homes nationwide. We wanted to see what talent was out there, and judge the popularity of the type of work we were needing for. We also wanted to start getting people on our books, so that as more contracts come rolling in, which they have been doing, thick and fast, we instantly have people available to send to the various locations.
We were overwhelmed with the response. Within the first day, we had over thirty applications, from such a wide variety of people. We moved all the emails into a folder, and decided to dedicate a day that following week to sift through them. We were still in the thought that it would be easy...
Next, we posted on StarNow
- again, another brilliant platform for searching for jobs, and one which is constantly being refreshed with new posts. This time, we wanted people from specific areas. And again, we were inundated with replies.
By the time we came to going through applicants, we had over seventy people, from multiple areas of the UK, and with a huge range of talent to choose from. And that was the problem - the level of talent. Everyone had credentials. Everyone had worked in a similar environment, giving them the experience we requested. Everyone had worked as a singer, or a dancer, or a presenter, and seemed happy and smiley in their photograph... How were we, as the final judge, meant to choose between them all?
On initial glance, everyone seemed suitable. So we had to narrow things down. And that's when cracks started appearing. And some pretty big ones - ones which have prompted us to write this post, because, as new as we are, we have both been in the business long enough to be, quite frankly, astounded by the way in which some people approached us.
So here we go, some key pointers in how to approach a business you want to work for - and what NOT to do...:
- Write a good cover letter.
One of the first things we ruled people out for was not giving us a cover letter. We're not picky - we weren't asking for an essay. But some people didn't send anything
. Not even a "hello". I remember one application in particular that just had a couple of attachments, sent via a smartphone. We didn't even know the person's name, until we opened the CV attached. It doesn't take long to write a few lines, just explaining that you are applying for the job post you've seen, and that you've attached your CV and a showreel. This said, writing nothing is bad, but we also advise that you probably shouldn't use "text speak"
either. In today's world, text speak, and emoticons, are slowly creeping in to everything - and call us old fashioned, but we don't agree with it. Leave the "lol" and "thnx" for messaging your friends. You want a professional approach when you apply for work - entertainer or not, you want to sound eloquent and intelligent, right?
- Get a good headshot.
So you've written a good opening email, and we've decided to open your files. But seeing a picture of you, with your friend's shoulder not-so-cleverly cropped out next to you, puts us off. We don't want to see how good you looked when you went out last Saturday - we want to see a professional photograph, showing us your best side. Not only is it something we want to see, but surely, it's what you want to present as well? Find a professional photographer, and get some good pictures taken. We know it's expensive, but it's worth it.
If you're still in college, ask your principle if they can arrange something for your whole year. Most photographers do discounts for groups, and you will get some nice shots. And if you really can't afford it, you could always do what Natalie did when she was starting out with her professional career - find a friend with a good camera, and a blank wall in your house, and get them to play around with some snaps. Anything is better than a dingy, fuzzy snap of you half-drunk on a night out.
Also consider some full length, commercial style shots - you could need these for some job types, especially if you're a dancer.
- Write a good CV.
Natalie is the queen of organisation, and is in charge of all of our paperwork. And she loves neat and tidy presentation with everything we do. This runs through to how she wants to view a CV. It was surprising the number of people who's CVs were unclear, jumbled and complicated to understand. Start with your name and address at the top, and that professional photo you've now got, and work from most recent down. We don't need to know that you played the part of a tree in primary school.
But it would be great to know straight away that you've performed in the West End for example. If you want to be really clever, group your jobs by type - performance work, teaching work, choreography etc. Then again, list them most recent first. If you haven't got much yet, for example if you have just graduate, then listing you college shows is ok, and adding a description to fill the page is fine too - but once you start gaining professional work, slowly fade it out. In an industry where your job can change every six months, you need to be selective over what you list - nobody wants a CV longer than 2 pages (or double sided, if it's printed). Don't just write a giant paragraph.
Think about it. Reading a large paragraph of facts can be daunting, and quite frankly, we don't have time to sift through it all. Leave out the waffle, use bullet points, and tell us what we need
- Include a showreel.
If we are looking for singers, we need to know you can sing. Telling us you can isn't enough, and you won't get hired, without an audition, unless you can demonstrate how good you are. Think about the type of job you are applying for as well. We were looking for vocalists in care homes, so showing us your best screamo attempt probably isn't a good idea. Jim likes people who think outside the box as well
- we listened to so many Adele renditions, but when a curveball song was presented to us, we were much more interested and much more likely to say yes.
- Don't make it too long.
We don't have a spare fifteen minutes to watch a reel of everything you have ever performed. If it's a singing showreel, a mix of a fast, slow and musical theatre song, all of which show you range and techniques is good. For dancers, turns and kicks are better than a random contemporary dance. Don't include every photo you have available either.
We want to see you moving, or speaking, not posing. Using your headshot is a good idea, to put a face to a name, but leave it at that - show us what you can do. We found that anything longer than 4min, we lost interest. Short and sweet is a winner.
- Have multiple formats available.
A lot of people use MacBooks now, but did you know that most people still use Microsoft Office for their documents, and not Pages? We suggest putting all documents in a PDF format - and as for showreels, links to Youtube are much better than waiting for a video to download. You can upload videos as private, so that only the people you want to can view your information, so there's no excuse really. Another good platform is Dropbox, or Vimeo - a lot of casting directors use this now, as it's so easy. And be prepared to be asked for more - one person sent us a link, but it didn't show us what we wanted. When we asked for more, they couldn't produce anything, so we lost interest. Don't lose a job opportunity because you're underprepared.
- Give us time.
Hounding us with phone calls because you applied yesterday, and want to hear is a no-no. Similarly, telling us you want to know immediately whether we will be interested, and telling us that "if not, you'll focus your time somewhere more productive" puts us off instantly. Those types of email were easy to rule out - you wouldn't demand to know for any other type of job, why should the entertainment world be any different? Respect the company that are debating hiring you, and they will be more likely to consider your application.
- Don't go straight to the money.
Pet hate alert! There is nothing worse than somebody emailing us, requesting to know how much the job is going to pay, before sending us any other information. We always put the pricing of our jobs in our adverts, but they do vary, so we can never be specific. But if you think you are worth £500, the likelihood of getting a job working in care homes is doubtful.
And being rude because we are quoting a lower amount than you are used to rules you out either way - and telling us to "forget it" is unnecessary, because we've probably already forgotten about you. It may sound harsh, but it is true. Many other jobs don't even tell their employees the figure of payment until they are offered the job, so why should we be any different?
- Give us contact information.
This is surely common sense, but it does get forgotten. Email, phone number and a postcode, so we know where you are, are fundamental pieces of information. Make sure you have an answer machine on your phone as well, so that we can leave a message if we can't get hold of you. This way, you won't miss an opportunity.
- Be realistic.
Ok, so singing in a care home may sound like an easy job. But it takes dedication, determination and a lot of optimism, to enter a venue such as a dementia care home, and perform to people who don't even seem to be listening. If you don't feel you are up to it, don't apply. It doesn't make sense to apply for absolutely everything, when it isn't what you want to do.
Judge yourself on your skills, and your capabilities, plus what you actually want to do, and read audition notices carefully before applying. If you aren't sure, send a quick email asking questions. It's better than wasting our time, and yours, when you turn the job down. If it's a dance job, make sure you have the correct skills required. Always check physical specifications, and if you're not 5ft8, don't apply for that model job - it'll be a no before you've even started, and that's pointless.
There are, of course, many more points we could give regarding approaching companies for jobs. For example, we love the people that have the confidence to telephone us, asking if we have work available - but if you're phoning because you have seen the advert, there's not much we are going to say except "email us some information". Unless you want to sing to us down the phone, but even then, I don't think that will get you the job. We also like when people tell us where we can catch them live - sometimes we pop in, just to check them out, and so use those performances to your potential!
We had some great applications, and we are already working with a few of our successful vocalists, getting them show ready for next month, when a lot of our contracts begin! In our next post, we will introduce you to some of our new faces - so keep an eye out!
Of course, we are always looking for new people - we have a huge base of vocalists and dancers, who work for us on a self-employed, as and when basis. We are searching for people throughout England for work at the moment, but we will be branching into Wales next - so get your application in early by filling out our contact form, or sending your details to our email address - email@example.com - and we will keep you on our files for when we are ready for our next application review day! Any questions? Contact Natalie on 07964418169.
Natalie @ Full Beam HQ