I work as the Producing Director for Salt Lake Acting Company, where part of my responsibilities include interviewing job candidates for positions, alongside our Executive Artistic Director, Cynthia Fleming.
Although I mostly hire for production and technical positions, this advice is applicable to all women in the job-seeking phase of their lives, whether searching for a job to help you pay for college or finding your first job out of college.
I am so incredibly lucky to wake up each morning and come to a job that I’m passionate about. I know the value of having a job that I feel fulfilled by and the importance of women in the workforce. I am also lucky to work for a company who values and empowers women, our leadership team is composed of mostly women.
As a woman with experience on the other side of the hiring process, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with all of you female job-seekers out there!
Tackling that Scary Buzzword: Networking
While cold calling or emailing your resume may work, it really is best if you are able to network with your interviewer. Do you know someone who might know your interviewer? Have them introduce you or put in a good word for you. Networking is everything, but it’s become this overwhelming buzzword. Good networking actually means being friendly, putting yourself out there to new people that you meet, finding honest and personal connections, and doing a great job at your current job or school. Bad networking comes off as phony. Don’t think of it as networking—think of it as being friendly.
PRO-TIP:Have business cards ready and easily accessible for those times when you meet a new key contact. If you have a professional website, list it on your business card. It makes it super easy for your contacts to see your work ahead of time.
I’m not sure I have the right or enough experience? What do I do?
Education, experience, and strong references do make a difference, but I would prefer to hire someone who I felt would be a better fit with the company. If you feel like you lack experience or education that a job requires, APPLY ANYWAY. You never know until you put yourself out there. If you are passionate and interested in a job, it couldn’t hurt to submit an application. Men are usually more likely to apply for a job that they don’t qualify for, so break down that gender difference and apply anyway! If you don’t have the necessary qualifications for a position but are still interested, make sure to include a stellar email or cover letter that talks about your passion for the job & the company.
PRO-TIP:Make sure to check with your references before you list them on an application. Also make sure to have thoroughly vetted references—only list people who you know will speak highly of you, even if they have a higher professional profile.
I’m re-entering the workforce after years of staying at home with my kids. Does it look bad to the employer? Should I alter my resume to de-emphasize it?
Many moms worry about being out of the workforce due to taking care of children, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t try to hide it. Be open about your time at home and explain why you made that choice. Emphasize it as an advantage and tell your interviewer what you learned from staying at home. I’m looking to see if you are a reliable employee and are committed to the job—I could care less if you took time off to raise your children.
PRO-TIP:Be honest on your resume—with the internet, employers can fact-check easily. Even embellishing can make you look bad, so be honest!
Any tips for the Interview?
Show up a few minutes early and don’t make your interviewers wait. On the flip side, realize that your interviewers are probably booked back-to-back, so don’t arrive too early. 10 minutes early is fair game, anything earlier is a little annoying. Keep your interview appointment. The people interviewing you are booked solid—rescheduling shows a lack of commitment to the job.
Come prepared with everything your interviewer has asked you to bring, including your resume and possibly your portfolio. Make sure to have 5 copies of your resume (at least!) in case extra people end up sitting in on the interview.
PRO-TIP:Send an electronic copy of your resume and portfolio to your interviewer ahead of your interview so that they have a chance to really get to know your work. Then bring paper copies with you when you come to the interview. Make sure you’ve asked for feedback on your resume and portfolio from friends and family & correct any typos ahead of time.
Make sure your email and phone number are clear on your resume. Nothing is worse than trying to figure out people’s blurry contact info when you are trying to give them a job.
PRO-TIP:Come up with an easy email, preferably with only your name. Nothing too complicated. You want them to be able to contact you without any problems.
During the interview, ANSWER EVERY QUESTION! I would prefer someone trying to answer rather than saying “I can’t think of anything.” If you honestly can’t think of an answer to your question, at least try. It’s totally fine to take a quick second to think of what you want to say, but the flow of the interview is important so make sure to forge ahead. If you flub a question or feel like you stumbled, you can always get the interview back on track!
And ASK A QUESTION. I know, I know—this is hard to think of on the spot, but come into every interview with at least 3 questions (in case a few are covered during the course of the interview). This shows that you know the company and are interested in working there. When interviewees don’t have any questions, it makes it seem like they haven’t done their homework.
PRO-TIP:Research your interviewers’ work online ahead of time & ask them about their previous work. This provides for excellent small talk before or after the formal interview.
Be confident in who you are and what you can bring to the job and the company and then voice that to your interviewer. Be self-aware before the interview–know your strengths and weakness and use that knowledge to your advantage.
PRO-TIP:Even though it’s a little old-school, send a handwritten thank you card following your interview. An email isn’t as personal, and a handwritten note is much more effective. Even if you don’t get the position, it’s a memorable act, and it might give you the edge for future positions.
I’ve been offered my dream job. Now what?
Many women don’t feel comfortable negotiating, but when you are offered your job ask for what you want, within reason. (A word of warning: make sure to not ask for anything too exorbitant or your job offer may be rescinded. It’s knowing the difference between asking for a reasonable $1/hour above the posted wage or an outrageous $20/hour above the offered rate.) Be flexible–maybe the 10 vacation days you asked for isn’t in their budget so be willing to settle for the 7 days they gave you as a counter-offer. The worst your new employer can do is say no.
Use these same negotiation tactics during your yearly review. If a yearly review isn’t standard at your work, ask for one and if it goes well, ask for a raise or additional benefits at this time.
Great negotiation points include:
- a slightly higher hourly wage or salary
- relocation costs
- vacation & personal days
When asking for a raise, play to your strengths! I would hold off asking for a raise if you’ve had any recent performance issues. When you go to your employer to ask for a raise, make a mental list of all the great work you’ve done for them in the past year and remind your employer of your hard work and dedication to the company.
Once you start your job, jump in with full force. Ask for extra assignments. Ask for feedback. Don’t skirt conflict. Be on time. The best thing you can do for your career is to show up at your current job, work hard, and do honest networking when you have a free minute.
Janice Jenson has worked at Salt Lake Acting Company for the past 4 years as stage manager, Company Manager, and Associate Producer and is excited for her new role as Producing Director. Janice is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and has stage managed over twenty shows at SLAC. Previously, Janice has worked at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, Dark Horse Company Theatre, Plan-B, and Tuacahn Center for the Arts. In 2008 Janice was selected as a USITT Stage Management Mentee, where she stage managed THE HISTORY OF DRAG. Janice is a graduate of BYU in Theatre Arts Studies with an emphasis in stage management and dramaturgy. She is currently working on her Masters of Community Leadership at Westminster College, where she is collecting stories about Mormon women and their negotiation of faith which she will use to create a community-based theatre performance. While Janice will focus on one performance piece for her capstone, she would like to use her research in community-based theatre to influence her professional decisions, creating theatre that allows for dialogue, represents the voice of the community, and that is more egalitarian.