Here are some thoughts gleaned from more than a year’s work on www.mediaparents.co.uk on how to be a working parent in TV.
Flexible working :
If you don’t ask – you won’t get, but what have you got to lose? Ask for flexible work that suits you and your family – but come with a strategy. Flexible working is often MORE attractive if an employer can’t afford a full time employee.
If you’re asking for flexible working come up with a plan, and pick your project.
Helen Veale, Outline : Be proactive about it. Come with a strategy that works for us both – tell me how you will be able to deliver what the production needs in the way that works for your family responsibilities.
Present yourself as half of a job share – you can find people to job share with, and indicate that you’d jobs share on Media Parents.
Pick your project – don’t ask for flexible work on a new series – ask for it on long running series which has a well-oiled schedule in place.
Do ask for a schedule (in advance of an interview if you can) and explain how you could manage your time. Freelance Series Producer Suzie Marsh has successfully done this with companies she has never worked with before.
It’s possible to jobs share in creative and production roles – Media Parents Director Amy Walker has jobs shared as a PD with Media Parents PD Laura Leigh – it’s all about communication – contact us through the Media Parents network and ask us how. It’s about communication, trust, talking about working practices, looking at footage or getting into the edit early if you can and constantly communicating.
The Heads of Production at Hat Trick job share. Laura Djanogly & Jessica Sharkey had worked together before job sharing and felt that two brains and two sets of experience were better than one.:
“It’s not my job, it’s our job”. They have only one email inbox, as they both believe they have to be “one person” to lessen impact on others. They didn’t want anyone to have to repeat themselves, and believe things have to continue to move forwards. Handover notes are crucial and can be onerous, but serve as a good log and checklist.
Naomi Carter Head of Production at Mentorn spoke up for part time PMs and part time PDs at one of our meetings. You can look at many of the companies who support flexible working on the Media Parents website here http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/employers/ and contact them through our network http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/network/ with your proposals for making it work for you.
Work out who’s in your network, create an action plan, and a date by which you’ll implement it.
Get out of the house. Media Parents often runs events where you can bring your baby!!
Network from home. Use online networking – media parents, facebook, linked in, twitter – you can do it all from home – and it works.
Have a plan – work out who would be useful for you to know, make contact with them and keep in contact without being overpowering.
Suggest a coffee with people you have worked with to get back into the saddle. If all the people you know at a company have moved on, seeing that company’s productions on your CV will still help you – just try them.
Applying for jobs :
Target your CV – contact companies who make programmes that are relevant to your experience.
Use a job-specific CV and covering letter.
Don’t leave the dates off your CV, show that you’ve learnt skills in the gaps: volunteer work, local community work, book keeping, written a blog / book etc.
Keep your CV to 2 pages with the most relevant experience at the top of the first page – don’t take the credits off, name the shows, no matter how old they are.
Target the job you want :
Write to companies on media parents and present them with a solution.
If you want to job share suggest someone / a few people, include their CVs too and outline how it could work.
Ask for a schedule ahead of the interview then structure a plan as to how you could deliver if you worked part time / condensed hours etc.
DON’T GIVE UP – use the Media Parents site and events to network with people in a similar position.
Feel free to email us through the Media Parents site with questions.