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Film/TV Careers: Assess Yourself

Understanding Your Unique Skills and Traits


Film slate
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When you look at all the potential careers you can identify in the entertainment industry, it's pretty easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices. So, how do you choose the road that's right for you? You need to start by looking inside yourself. You need to assess your character traits, your skill sets, your education and your desires and plot those against your long term career goals.

At first glance, that may seem a lot more difficult than it actually is. That's only because you now need to focus on asking and (more importantly) answering the "tough" questions about what you bring to the table such as talent, passion or what have you, as well as what you hope to get out of your entertainment career.

In her book, "Great Jobs for Film Majors" author Sandra Gordon outlines a seven step process for assessing oneself for a career in entertainment. These seven steps force you to consider all aspects of a particular job choice. Each step brings you closer toward choosing not only the job path that's right for you, but more importantly identifying those paths that are not. Here are the steps she recommends:

  1. Understand Your Personality Traits: You need to start by understanding who you are as a person and what type of personality you have. Are you outgoing? Driven? Funny? Do you like being around people? Do you work better independently or in a team setting? Are you a leader or a follower? Start by listing the top ten personality traits that best describe you. To be most effective here, be 100% honest with yourself. You will find that you refer back to these traits numerous times over the course of your career.

  2. Define Your Personal Values: When it comes to choosing a career, something else you want to take into consideration are the values you hold dear. Do you like autonomy? Are people skills something you're known for? What are working conditions you would find unacceptable? Do you like physical labor or working outdoors? All of these are values you will need to determine and prioritize for yourself to make sure you make the best choice possible. List a set of what you believe to be ideal working conditions and then assign a personal value to each one.

  3. Determine Your Financial Needs: This by the way, can also be stated as "determine your financial desires." You need to assess what type of lifestyle you hope to have. Certain career paths are much more lucrative than others. So you need to decide what amount of money you need to live the lifestyle of your choosing. For example, if your goal is to live in a Hollywood mansion and drive a $200,000 Mercedes, then a career as a location scout might not be for you. But if your desires are much more tame, then you can explore whatever path suits your fancy. Either way, it will help you stay happy in your job later if you determine your future economic needs now.

  4. Long Term Career Goals: It may not seem all that important, but you need to know what your long term career goals are. Keep in mind, these may change as you progress in your career, but if you can identify even the slightest path now, you will help to narrow your focus and get your career going as soon as possible. So take a minute and jot down your long term career goals.

  5. Assess Your Skills: What are you good at? What special skills or talents do you have currently that might help you down your career path? Are you a talented writer? Are you good with photography or video? Are you a leader? Are you good with numbers? Whatever skills you might have, now is the time to identify them and see how they match up with your potential career.

  6. Assess Your Preferred Skills: After looking through your existing skill set, which of those skills do you enjoy doing the most? Which ones would you want to highlight to a potential employer? If you're good at numbers but have no interest in being a production accountant, then there is no point in highlighting that particular skill. Whereas, if you love sewing, you might find that your skills translate perfectly into a career as a costume designer. Take a bit of time and assess your preferred skills.

  7. Assess the Skills That Need Work: Sometimes our approach to finding the perfect entertainment job is by reversing the process. Picking out a job that we want to do and then determining the skill set needed. Whatever skills you might be lacking you'll want to determine what they are and what steps you might take to develop them on your own. Whether it's through classes, books, on the job experience, or what have you, if you can determine this now, you'll find that you're way ahead of the game.
In this self-assessment you might find that you have identified a number of traits, values and skills you didn't even know you had. By applying this knowledge to your career search, you will have taken a huge step toward accomplishing your goals.


Gordon, Sandra, "Great Jobs for Film Majors", McGraw-Hill; 1st edition, 2004

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