California dreaming. Lotus land. Nearly everyone, at one point or another has daydreamed about dropping everything and moving to the west coast. The sunshine. The blue skies. The warm temperatures year round. It sounds like paradise. Of course, it comes with a price. Los Angeles is crowded. Traffic is an absolute nightmare. And all those people coming out to chase their private version of the California lifestyle means wicked and ferocious competition for the available jobs. The following article examines the key traits necessary to consider when moving to work and live in Los Angeles.
Where to Look
Moving to Los Angeles likely means having to accept whatever employment you can get...at least initially. And because of the high turnover (servers and baristas waiting to be discovered), the food industry is perhaps your best bet. Be prepared.
Recruiters and Staffing Agencies
These companies, which all come at a cost, require that you set-up an account with them. It’s usually nothing more than posting your resume and entering a few details, although you may also need a good photo, a couple of pieces of government ID, and proof that you’re eligible to work in the US (i.e. your work visa).
Looking for an executive or senior level position, with the experience and background to make you a viable option? There are a number of retained search firms (filling high level and long-term positions) that specialize in this area for Los Angeles based companies, and the Los Angeles Business Journal compiled a Top Ten Retained Search Firms list to complement their Top Ten Contingency Employment Agencies. Both are well worth a look.
Classifieds and Employment Boards
Looking to save some pennies? Look no further than the traditional classified ads and employment boards. There are plenty to choose from, and they are frequently updated and easy to use. Some of them even allow you to create an alert that automatically sends you an email every time someone posts a new job in your city, industry, or by keyword. And all for free!
Best Los Angeles Industries
The obvious answer here is the film industry, of course. Hollywood. And while it is certainly never easy to land a job working in the movies - either as onscreen “talent” or behind-the-scenes workers - the opportunity is there. The movies need vast crews during production: electricians, makeup and hair, designers, writers, animators, drivers, caterers, assistants...you name it. It might not be glamorous, but a job in the film industry - ANY job - is still a job in the film industry. Hidden Hollywood Jobs provides listings for many such positions. Looking to be a paid extra on set? Check out Extras! Management. More interested in being the star (and who wouldn’t be)? Go to Backstage for a current list of LA auditions.
There is a rather steady and sizable demand for qualified accountants and financial services in Los Angeles, with several staffing companies dealing exclusively in the industry, such as Robert Half Finance & Accounting.
You could also check out Indeed’s Best Places to Work in Los Angeles. This list is compiled from user reviews and number of available positions, so it’s a convenient way to look into any position before deciding whether to go after it.
A Few Final Tips
Keep your resume short, crisp, and to the point. Avoid long lists of dates and names whenever possible, and keep it to a maximum of two pages...although one page is even better. The job market in Los Angeles is not fantastic, so you’ll need to be prepared (but hopefully it won’t come to that) to either take something not in your chosen field, or go without while you continue your search. Language skills - especially Spanish - are highly coveted. Finally, make sure you lose the chip on your shoulder and forget the notion of jobs being "beneath" you. The competition for every single position in LA is fierce, and if your attitude rubs someone the wrong way, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of other applicants to chose from behind you.
Other Useful Links
- Top Ten Tips to Finding a Job in Hollywood
- L.A.-based Community Service Organizations (with job search assistance)
It’s a difficult go of it for the vast majority in Los Angeles, but if you keep at it, have the experience and education that employers want, and have at least a little bit of luck on your side, you just might find yourself making that California dream a reality.