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So What Advice do TV Employers have for Work Experience & Runners?

These were the questions I posed some experienced and influential employers in television:

What is your best piece of advice for people looking for work experience or running jobs in TV? Tell the truth – what puts you off a work experience? What qualities do you look for in a runner? What kind of CVs put you off and which make you interested? 

 

And here are the answers:

From a very senior executive: ‘Always and still a sucker for keeness’.

This is a common theme – employers are less concerned about the kind of degree you have and more concerned to see someone enthusiastic, keen and helpful.

A Production Executive at ITV, someone I have worked extensively with over the years, has provided some very detailed and helpful advice. She has employed very many runners over the years and managed various work experience schemes so this advice is worth its weight in gold!

 

 

DO’s:

In sending your CV (usually via email) be really honest and lovely in the covering letter or message. I received one email from a northern lass who was just so passionate about telly and willing to do anything thrown her way to get a chance to do a work placement. She was funny and refreshing and stood out so I offered her a placement and she has a job at ITV now.

Be persistent but not irritating so send a reminder every month or so if you’re not hearing back just letting people know you’re still around and wanting work placements. Sometimes hand delivering your letter to reception, that impresses me showing you are ensuring you get the letter through and I do read them. When on the placement, be incredibly committed, keen and hardworking, willing to do any tasks thrown your way with a smile on your face.

Be proactive and seek out opportunities and whilst you’re on a placement always be offering your help or asking how you can get more involved. Being grateful is good as well, sending a card or something after the placement shows you really appreciated the chance and you will stick out in the mind of the manager as someone with a good attitude.

 

DON’T’S

Don’t stalk people; call their office or mobile asking why they haven’t replied to your email or letter. Don’t send those little sparkly confetti things in with your CV so when you open it they sprinkle all over you and have glitter stuck to you for days afterwards, really annoying!! Don’t send Kit Kats or sweets in with the letter, it just is a bit scary.

Don’t put big cheesy pictures of yourself on the CV, I dunno maybe it’s just me but it feels a bit- well – vain, I don’t care what you look like!

When on the placement don’t have an attitude, complain if you don’t get an hour lunch break, moan if you have to work past 6pm, complain you’re tired, chat on your mobile to your friends during the day, surf Facebook and don’t keep coming into the manager’s office who offered you the placement every day to tell them how it’s going; a hello and welcome at the start and a thank you at the end will do. If you’ve been assigned someone to look after you then speak to them about your daily tasks.

Don’t wear inappropriate attire, in the telly industry this is hard to judge given we’re all a bit kooky but I mean tarty clothing, ridiculous nail extensions or jewellery that might give the wrong impression and the same for boys. It’s good to have your own style and be fashionable but we just want to see appropriate wear that’s suitable for you attending shoots or meeting talent or management etc.

People that stand out to me are positive, smiley, honest, grateful and willing plus proactive!”

And from a very talented man who has worked in front of the camera as well as directing behind it:

“People notice if you make them tea and happily perform all kinds of humiliating tasks that have nothing [apparently] to do with the making of TV. But people notice that kind of personally useful help much more than they notice filing or the fact that you really, really want to do their job and probably consider yourself already better-qualified for it than them”.

This, I’m afraid, is true a lot of the time. The contacts you make are very important. Being noticed and appreciated by the production team will certainly help your cause. Sucking up to the boss can backfire so don’t overdo it – being unpopular with the rest of the team won’t help. Be yourself but make the effort to make a personal connection.

And there’s more where that came from coming up next. If you don’t want to miss such pearls of wisdom subscribe to the blog now. Also coming up a personal account from a graduate on the hunt for work experience and that first job in television.

If you missed the last post on this subject then check it out here: Getting That First Job in TV and you find part two of this article here: More Advice for Work Experience.

7 comments

  • parttime says:

    super website carry on.

  • Jonathan Glazier says:

    Number one tip in this electronic age, do not name your files ” My CV” very very annoying when you have 6 or 7 “My CV” files all applying for the same job. If it were not for my PC driven HR person instant ground for delete!
    Use you head, name CV. No more the rest will get truncated and be almost as annoying, it’s my job to file your CV and yours to name it sensibly. Cryptic numerals are tiresome and you nick names like”Jonnos cool CV” one presumes for C4 applications as opposed to the boring version for the BBC?
    And my top tip look at the credits of a show you like, pick the name of the person doing your dream job, perm a few name.name@prodco.com .co.UK emails and ask for their advice or even to see them.
    And shu how did you manage that? To find a PRODUCTIVE executive at ITV must have taken you quite some time ;-)

    • Excellent advice from one on TV’s hottest directors and the man to do to for advice on anything to do with video on the web.
      Take heed of his advice. It drives me mad too!! And this doesn’t just apply to runners and work experience – some very experienced producers and directors do the same thing!

  • Good Lord – Productive Executive – must slow down and read back what I write! Mind you I quite like that title – I may leave it up for a bit…..

  • Jude Winstanley says:

    Great article Shu.

    Just wanted to add that for anyone considering dropping a hard copy of their CV in to a production company in person – please be prepared for nobody to have the time to drop what they are doing and come and have a chat with you when you rock up to ther office.

  • Film2240 says:

    I need your help here.The few work experience placements I got despite over 3 years of unemployment since graduation trying to get a job in TV these went very well and people have promised to recommend me because I impressed them.

    Why is it that after over a year I still don’t get called in for paid jobs or further experience,I chase people up via email and phone I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong?I also have a disability so I was really hoping that TV employers would give me considered marking during interviews (I have autism) but it seems they just don’t want me in the industry at all despite working hard,not complaining about the work,going the extra mile,etc.Why aren’t I getting work and I’m at a complete loss and at my wits end? Please help me asap so I can get back on track.

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