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February 2018 | Georgie McGahey

Ever thought about who is on the other end of your email? We spoke to recruiters to define what they are looking for in a new recruit.

The beginning of a new year brings a sense of starting a-fresh. You’ve got Christmas out the way, now it’s time to knuckle down and start sending out your new CV for the new year. As you send off your application, you might pause for a moment to think about the person going through all the CVs and cover letters. Their perception of your CV can be make or break, so what do you need to know about the people on the other end of the email?

One of the questions we receive time and time again is "what are recruiters looking for in a CV". To answer this, we thought it best to let the recruiters tell you in their own words. We put three questions to a host of companies, and this is what they came back with.

One of the first things we asked was what would make you shortlist a CV, and here is what they came back with:

  • A well-written cover letter is crucial. It needs to provide evidence as opposed to just statements of experience.

  • Good presentation. I respond not just to neat CVs, but CVs with some flair as this is an aesthetic industry.

  • A concise CV that is no more than a page and a half.

  • I want to see relevant experience with relevant companies/people within the industry.

  • They should be thinking about what I need, rather than putting their career/life first.

  • Their CV and how they present themselves on paper should be professional in every way.

  • A good cover letter that shows they are actually interested in the job and the company and not just chucking the CV to all and sundry.

  • A personal email beforehand saying ‘I am applying’, it shows interest in the role.

  • A CV that shows what they have achieved, not just a list of job responsibilities.

When discussing CVs, one piece of advice was mentioned several times. We think this particular statement sums it up perfectly:

People don't mention non-TV & Film related transferable skills. For example, if they have worked say at a busy restaurant or in customer service, they may have gained skills and experience that would help them here in their day to day tasks. If I know they've completed other stressful jobs at a high-standard I know they may be able to complete this job to a high-standard.

So don’t forget about your non-industry experience and how it translates to the film industry. If you have solid skills that transfer to the job on offer, you're bringing an asset with you. Career changers should bear this in mind when creating your film industry CV, think about what you have to offer them that translates.

If your CV has dazzled them, you’ll be invited for an interview or asked to go in for a few hours for a trail. The film industry is people driven, so how you navigate yourself around the workplace is key to gaining that first job. So what are they looking for during an interview?

  • They understand the area of industry they are interested in and have a passion for the business that will motivate them.

  • They should demonstrate their knowledge of production companies and certain individuals they admire.

  • Someone who is personable and passionate. I want to know they want to do the job and want to work for us.

  • Evidence of being a self-starter.

  • Someone I like. I need to be able to get on with them.

  • Evidence they have researched the company and job, clear expressions of interest in what we do (the amount of times I have asked people “What do you know about 3 Mills” and the answer is “not much really” – look online it is not hard.

  • Someone with questions to ask who then listens to the answers.

  • Enthusiasm can’t be underestimated.

  • Detailed preparation – around 1 in 5 would come in with a list of written questions, or notes to refer to. Don’t be afraid of making notes and referring to them. An interview is a stressful process, you shouldn’t be expected to remember everything immediately – referring to notes is evidence you have prepared properly.

Remember interviews aren't just about the company getting a feel for you, it’s also about you getting a feel for them.

Interviews can be stressful, but ultimately, it’s just talking to people. You need to show them your unflappable side. So be prepared, think about what they might ask you and go through our interview checklist, which you can find here.

The last question we asked was advice for new entrants. What would they tell their 20 year old selves when they were just starting out in the film industry?

  • Listen to people and if they ask or tell you to do something show that you have heard – mistakes aren’t a problem but not learning from them is.

  • Be yourself – some production runners are all jazz hands and ‘aren’t I crazy’. That can be annoying, care about what you do and do it well no matter what it is. People above you just want to know you are a nice person and you can do your job well. If you do crappy jobs well you will soon be given a good job to do.

  • Don’t wait around for what might be the perfect position - get involved and find who you want to work with.

  • Don’t be afraid to work for a company for a couple of years at the start while you work out what exactly you want to do.

  • Do all the work experience you possibly can. Even if you want to work in development don't turn down other opportunities to gain experience in other areas, commercial, marketing etc. Get your foot in the door and make your contacts because you can mention to someone the area you eventually want to work in, and they may have a contact for you.

  • Don't wait for people to get back to you, be more persistent to the people you want to work for.  


Being proactive in all areas of the industry denotes those who will succeed and those that might find the industry too demanding. The resounding message is don’t be complacent and embrace all opportunities that come your way.

Get in touch with us if you would like to share your experience of the film industry.

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