Q. Other than gaining new possible contacts, is there any reason to be on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Even if you get new contacts, what are the chances these people would put their reputation at risk, for someone they've never met? Has there been studies concerning the effectiveness of social media?
Social media allows you to cast the widest net possible. The good news is you get more bang for your job-seeking buck, the bad news is your buck doesn't go very far these days. What these social networking sites offer is a way to reach a large mass at a single time. You just never know, to your point, who exactly is in a position to find what you "tweet" compelling enough to consider you for a job. That applies to Facebook as well for that matter. LinkedIn although the "professionals" choice, can become so overwhelming with unsolicited requests to "connect" you really have to become an expert in learning how to mine, navigate to your next career connection. I think the best way to use LinkedIn is to ask for a referral from your existing network to connect to someone in a company that you may be interested in applying to. This way it adds some credibility instead of sending a request to get connected without any context. Knowing your audience even when you don't actually "know" your audience helps you make inroads all the while being professionally courteous and respectful of people's time. There are studies by many of the top consulting firms and Social Media Today and other networking groups post discussions on effectiveness of social media on audience participation on job boards and in particular whether anyone ever gets a job through any one of them. Knowing how to position yourself through key words and descriptors helps to highlight your qualifications to the thousands of recruiters who use LinkedIn to source passive candidates. So even though you may not have 500 + connections in LinkedIn, make sure you spend time creating a searchable and compelling profile so recruiters find you even though you may not be looking for them.
Q. I have a well groomed beard, but I rarely see any CEO or other employees with facial hair. Is my beard hurting my chances of getting a job?
I don't think facial hair is necessarily a deterrent in your chances at positioning yourself for CEO roles. Let's look at some "bearded" CEO's and you can decide whether their intelligence, or their hair stood in their way towards success. Larry Ellison, Philip Knight and Paul Allen are just a few bearded CEO's who come to mind and who have made fame with their name and not their bearded face. Let's not kid ourselves, your looks do play an important part in creating a professional image. However, like anything else, it's how you carry yourself, and set yourself apart from the rest, beard or no beard, that's going to get you in line for the next CEO position. Focus on your assets, your skills, intelligence, qualifications and of course your image and don't focus on what you think could be a problem because if you are uncomfortable, it will come across no matter what position you are considering.
Q. If I'm looking to get out of LA and just cannot afford NYC, but I'm in the television industry, what parts of the country would you suggest? San Fran, Atlanta, something in Florida or perhaps Chicago?
The major markets where jobs seem plentiful within the entertainment industry are most definitely in NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, North Carolina, Austin, Orlando, Canada and of course Asia and Europe. Depending on what type of job you are seeking, a production job, news, television, etc., may also open you up to opportunities in local markets such as the South East, Mid West or Central states. The key is not to pigeon hole yourself into thinking you can't afford a city if your dream job is in NY. You can live in the outer more affordable suburbs and commute. Also, don't discount that there may be a good opportunity in Ohio or West Virginia as well so you should always keep yourself well networked and informed. If you are looking for production jobs, there are resources out there that can help you find local area jobs where productions are shooting in remote regions. Cast a wide net and be open to a job even if it's in LA for awhile with a company that might have regional offices-you could get a foot in the door and look to transfer through the company which would be much easier and sometimes more economical (some companies might pay for relocation) so the point is keep your options open and make the most of what you have and be clear on where it is you'd ultimately like to live and target those city & states for available jobs.
Q. If housing is the first to get hit in a bad economy and discount box box (TYPO) and fast food places tend to be the last, where does the entertainment industry fall. More preciously, (TYPO) is there a part of this industry that is more recession proof than others?
This is a difficult question to give a short response to but here goes. I don't think the entertainment industry is any more or less recession proof than any other industries. That said, you really need to look more specifically at the supply and demand not of the industry per se but of the particular types of positions that the industry is seeking to employ people. For instance, technology, financial, accounting and engineering positions tend to be in high demand regardless of a recession. Why? These people need to keep the wheels moving regardless of how fast or slow a train is moving. The entertainment industry is not recession proof. Many companies go through a series of "down-sizing or right-sizing" when revenue is in jeopardy and things are tight. Whether it's a studio concerned with domestic & international box office numbers, or a cable television network fighting for advertising dollars and distribution, to online and digital site seeking audience, traffic and sponsorship dollars, all areas of the "entertainment" business are mindful of cost and labor and how it ultimately effects the bottom line. So, to answer this question you need to look at the type of jobs that are in high demand and not necessarily a particular industry. This will steer you toward opportunity no matter the state of the economy.
Q. With all the equality we supposedly have achieved, why are women still being paid less than their male counterparts? Are we willing to accept less money, are we being duped, or is something else going on? Are we partly to blame, if so, what do we need to do to close the gap?
This is a really tough question to respond to in the space allotted here given that I can probably write a book on this subject. I am addressing this question first as an HR professional and secondly as a working woman. Let me state that I've been working now for over 25 years in the entertainment business. On one hand, during that time I have seen many woman rise in the ranks to hold senior level positions, run companies and sit on boards. It's been a revolutionary period for woman in the workplace. On the other hand, do I still think woman have room to grow-absolutely. I think both men and woman have an opportunity to grow and assert themselves in knowing what they want from their careers and how to ask for it. That said, I'd like to believe that woman have achieved a level of equality as it relates to pay and status in the workplace. I've personally seen this as a result of, 1) having hired many senior level woman executives in the media & entertainment industry and, 2) having helped many woman negotiate salaries for themselves paying them on par with if not more than their male counterparts in some cases. I do believe that woman, particularly in the media & entertainment industry have achieved a level of professional success that allows them to be compensated at high levels whether that is more or less than a man earns. Having held senior level HR positions throughout my career, I have a slightly different vantage point given I understand how compensation and pay practices are determined within companies from a business standpoint, and therefore have a slightly different take on how pay might differ between individuals (regardless of gender or any other reason not related to expertise and skill). In my experience, I have never been in a situation where pay was based on gender vs, skills, budget or how the pay range for that job was established. I'm not saying that there are people out their that "take care of each other" but generally speaking, if you have a tight management team and solid pay practices you generally don't run into discriminatory practices where, "I'm going to pay Joe more than Sue because I like him". There usually is someone or a group of people that serve on a compensation committee that monitors pay practices to ensure that no impropriety occurs. Now, to answer this question as a woman, do I think woman are willing to accept less money than men, honestly in some cases, I do think woman have a more difficult time negotiating on behalf of themselves and they do seem to have a harder time standing up for what they believe is fair especially as it relates to money. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is an issue that only effects woman, as I know many men who have issues with standing up for themselves as it relates to questions surrounding pay. The topic of money is never an easy one regardless of your gender. Whether you are negotiating a hiring salary or a raise, I do believe that woman are more likely to shy away from what might set them apart from the rest of the group and do not want to appear confrontational or demanding. Depending on a individual's personal belief system whether it be based on culture, how they were raised, their relationship with their parents or their relationship with money, they may come to "accept" rather than "assert" their rights even when they believe they deserve to be paid more than they are receiving. I am speaking of course in broad generalizations as I initially stated this is a topic worthy of a book and not merely a Q&A post. So in short, I believe that woman have come a long way since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In the United States, woman earn roughly $.77 on a $1.00 as the gap continues to narrow based on a number of factors including age when entering the workforce. Their is a theory that based on a historical timeline, woman may actually exceed the rate of pay of men by the mid-2010 period and beyond. This will likely be a non-issue in the upcoming generations as more and more woman enter the workforce and are counted alongside their male counterparts. Remember, woman received the right to vote shortly after the turn of the century where men were at it long before then making decisions on behalf of both sexes. Woman just needed time to catch up and that time is fast approaching. So the good news is, woman are in control of what they are willing to accept in the form of compensation regardless of sex or any other protected class. Woman AND men just need to know how to negotiate for themselves and honestly, not be afraid to ask.