A small group of young hopefuls discovered how to – and, just as importantly, how not to – go about securing a job in television at an intimate RTS Futures event in late May.
Experienced production manager and founder of the industry online jobs board The Unit List, Jude Winstanley, offered her personal dos and don’ts over the course of a revealing two-and-a-half-hour workshop.
Among the 14 young people at the workshop were would-be producer/directors, editors, programme developers and production managers. They heard Winstanley discuss how to craft an effective CV; where to look for work; the best ways to approach production companies and land an interview; how to handle the interview; and how to build a reputation and secure the next job.
CVs and covering letters should be written with care. “You have to make sure that the employer has no reason to put them in the bin,” said Winstanley.
Over a decade of employing people and 20 years working in television, the line producer has been sent many CVs with terminal errors, not least applicants omitting their name or phone number.
A covering email, Winstanley continued, “needs to address everything the employer is looking for. Think hard about the job you’re going for and what is going to give you the edge?”
Winstanley began her TV career in 1997 as a runner on game shows, including ITV’s Supermarket Sweep. She moved on to become a production secretary and then a production co-ordinator, before landing her first series production manager role on 2005 E4 reality show Beauty and the Geek. Recently she has worked on Channel 5 doc The Woman With No Face.
Production companies use social media widely to advertise vacancies, but Winstanley warned the telly hopefuls in the room to take care of “what you post and who has access to it. This is a small industry and negative things tend to get remembered.”
She offered the following tests: “Would I like my mum to read this? Would I like this to appear on the front page of the Daily Mirror? If the answer to either question is no, don’t post it.”
For those applicants lucky enough to land an interview, Winstanley advised thorough preparation. “Look up the company and what they do. If [the job] is for a returning series, make sure you watch an episode and have an opinion about it.”
If all goes well and a position is offered, she said: “Do the job you’re hired to do and do it really well. Build a reputation – when you’re in a job that’s the easiest place to find the next one.”
“How to get that job” was held at Royal Television Society Head Office in central London on 23 May, The RTS Futures event was produced by Jude Winstanley.