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5 tips to land a job at a post-production sound studio

We covered why you might want to work for a studio in Different Jobs at a Post-Production Sound Studio. Now we're going to talk about how to land a studio job.

1. Get a recommendation from a connection 

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A lot of studios do not post job listings online and hire by word of mouth instead. Sometimes they don't have to go past employees to find good applicants (between friends, roommates, and colleagues looking for work). 

Do some sleuthing to find out if you know someone who works at a studio you're interested in, has worked there, or is friends with someone who works there. LinkedIn and Facebook can be good for this. Always contact your connection and ask permission to use them as a recommendation. Then, when you contact the studio manager, start by mentioning the person who recommended you.

2. Cater your resume to the position you’re applying to.

Studios want to see that you're willing to do the actual job you're being hired for - not the one you're working towards. If you're applying for a PA job, having a car or experience in the service industry can be an advantage. For assistant or machine room operator, skills that give an advantage are IT/networking, soldering, computer or electronics (especially repair).

Nearly every applicant knows how to operate a computer and Pro Tools; it pretty much can be assumed you know standard software and hardware without mentioning it. If you are exceptionally good at something (cleanup with Izotope RX, for example) or have a unique technical skill, this is worth mentioning.

Focus on the things that are different about you that might help the studio. Do you speak a foreign language? As mentioned before, are you good at computer repair or used to be a barista? They want to see that you're going to be a team player.

3. Be open-minded to get a foot in the door.

Building a career takes time. The majority don't go from being a college graduate to staff re-recording mixer in a summer - or even a decade sometimes. It's easy to miss a good opportunity because a job isn't exactly what you're trying to pursue. My first post-production studio job I was assistant scheduler! While it wasn't at all my career goal, I had the chance to meet a lot of people and learn the inner workings of the studio I never would have otherwise. 

4. Focus your time in the right places. 

Keep your CV (list of credits/projects) and iMDB page up to date. If you're applying for a job like editor, engineer, or re-recording mixer, a studio or employer will be interested and may check your iMDB page before meeting. Tips for adding iMDB credits:

  •  There’s an option for “uncredited” if your name wasn’t in the credits.
  • If you have time, add the entire sound department. This helps out your colleagues plus it’s not as obvious you were the one who added it.

A demo is not necessary. In post-production sound, we usually don't have control over the source material or the deadline. Our "best" work may not be flawless. It's more important to show you can get the work done on-time with whatever hurdles come up. If there's any questions about your ability, you can always offer to do a test session.

Don't spend much time looking online for jobs. As mentioned earlier, entry-level jobs tend to come from word of mouth and are not advertised.

Build connections and get to know people. Your best advocates for finding you work are connections. Would you rather look for a job alone or with dozens of people keeping an ear open for you? The more you can build your connections the more people who can help you. Go to industry events and talk to people. If there's someone who's work you're interested in, ask if you can meet for coffee or buy them lunch and find out how they got into the industry. What do they recommend to land a job? Finding work is really a team sport and it will be through your career.

5. If you get an interview, be yourself.

Studios get so many applicants for every job they don’t have to pick the person with the most experience. They may pick someone based on temperament. Studio employees (especially entry level) spend a lot of time together so they want to see you'll fit in with the team and be fun to hang out with (especially on really long or stressful days). 

Studios also look for applicants with enthusiasm for the job they are hired for, like not expecting an immediate promotion or to be mixing as an intern. Studios are also looking for how you carry yourself, like, do you seem comfortable in the interview? Are you easy to talk to? It's ok to be nervous but are you still able to have a conversation and speak articulately? Every studio job (from intern to mixer) has to do some level of client services. Communication skills are very important because we are a service-based industry. 

If you have good people skills, the interview is the time to show off. If you're shy or freeze up under pressure, that won't keep you from getting the job, either. If the social side isn't your strength, practice! Mock interviews and talking to strangers are good ways to build up your confidence.