Applying for your first Hollywood job in LA? Read this first

The first thing I did after I landed a job with Dennis Lehane?

Write the job posting for my current assistant gig and send it to my friends. I had two weeks to find and train my new-hire, before Dennis had me watching/studying Mad Men and Deadwood for hours at a time #thestrugglewasreal.

I thought it’d be cool to dive between the lines of the job posting I wrote. Give you an inside-the-mind look at that crucial, rare moment in entertainment where the clouds part, and sunshine pours down upon the heads of lowly transplants stealing Wi-Fi from Starbucks (I see you).

What moment am I referring to?

An opening at an entry-level position. A true entry-level position. None of this “5-years-experience before I let you answer my phones” babble.

See below for the official job description. Between the lines I’ll include what you should be reading, erhm, between the lines.

(BTW, if you were paying attention I already dropped 2 crispy, golden, job-application nuggets in the first 3 sentences of this post. Because I’m crafty like that.)

Here we go:

[NAME OF COMPANY] (a literary management company that represents the authors of the books [A BUNCH OF BOOKS THAT GOT TURNED INTO MOVIES YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD OF, etc.)] seeks a new assistant to three literary managers.

[Ming notes: Management company. In many cases, this means former agents who decided to get out of the agency grind and hang their own shingle. Can range from an ambitious young woman who is sick of trying to climb the ladder at one of the majors, TO a veteran agent who’s developed an excellent relationship with a star client and wants to produce with said client, e.g. Martin Scorsese and Chris Donnelly.
Three literary managers. Company is trying to cut costs (not a bad thing). They do that by “sharing” the assistant.

One year industry experience preferred — this is for someone who wants to work in representation.

[Ming notes: Preferred. Not required. If you come in through a warm contact and are stellar, you have a good shot. For what it’s worth, I landed this job and I didn’t even have that warm contact to get me through the door. More on that later.
Wants to work in rep. Don’t talk about your ambition to be a director/screenwriter/actor. If asked, “Do you want to be an agent or manager?,” there is only one correct answer: “Yes, I’ve given it a lot of thought and that’s definitely a path I’m interested in.”]

Duties are standard assistant duties: rolling calls, scheduling, submission log maintenance, and tracking of bookings. For the right candidate, there aremany opportunities to deal with clients directly, to learn to the ins-and-outs both film/tv contracts and book contracts, and find new clients.

[Ming notes: Rolling calls, scheduling… Blah blah blah typical assistant bullshit.
Learn contracts. No legal department.]

Standard rock-star assistant qualities apply (diligent, self-motivated, communicative, tough-skin, etc.) Beyond that, you must love books (reading, and also the business of) as a majority of our business comes from book-to-film deals. You must have ridiculous multitasking skills as you handle three desks and your own tasks.

[Ming notes: Standard rock-star assistant qualities apply… This is pretty clever of me, if I do say so myself. This means, please don’t bullshit me. Don’t say your strengths are “communication.” I mean, you breathe, too, right? You have a pulse? Then self-motivation, thick skin, and blah blah blah are the minimum requirements. Tell me why you want this job in particular. Tell me why you’d be good for this job. I gave you the titles of our 5 biggest books/clients at the beginning of this job description, sooooooo perchance a good place to start is by researching those authors.
In my first cover letter for this company, I told them I heard one of their clients, Bobby Moresco, speak at my college, and he’s the reason why I moved to LA to work in Hollywood. That got me through the door.
Multitasking, three desks, your own tasks. Hmm, seems like I think this “3 desks” things is a pretty big deal. Perhaps I think it’s stressful, so I’ll want to know how you deal with pressure. Preferably in story form.]

Big pluses: knowledge of both the LA Hollywood and NY Book landscape, and experience in book-to-film deals. Again, for someone who wants to work in representation.

Please send resumes (as attachments, not in the body of the email) to:[WORK EMAIL]. In the body of the email, please include a brief cover letter (two paragraphs max) why you feel you’re the right candidate based on the description above. To be clear, please don’t rehash the resume, just explain what value you’d bring to the company.

Submissions that don’t follow these instructions won’t be considered.

[Ming notes: Submissions that don’t follow. This is a follow-the-direction-test. So follow the directions.]

Position to start [DATE], with training to start asap.

Next time you’re reading a job posting you’re applying to, take a few extra seconds. Read between the lines. It’ll land you that job.

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