Sunday, December 18, 2011

Film Students Land Early Internships

F.I.R.S.T. School film students Paul Lucero and Jason Smolowitz strive for the best and started their internships early. They are both working with Domino Effect Productions, a young company that produces commercials, music videos, public service announcements, 
and short films.  
Also, Andrew Ruben and Jason Smolowitz received the opportunity to work with Art Smith who is the mentor of David Lopez, film program instructor. Art Smith has been in the industry for many years and his credits include working on Anger Management, Snake Eyes, Ocean City, Super Mario Bros, and many more.  

Congratulations on working hard and keep producing amazing results!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Film Class 112: "Two Men and a Robot" Short Film

Laughing has never come so easy.  Class 112 gives birth to a potential web series titled 
Two Men and Robot”, starring Jason Smolowitz as Ben, the goof ball always getting in trouble;  David Lopez stars as John, the conservative who always gets sucked into Ben’s schemes; and Michael Mendez as the mysterious Simon. 
The first episode introduces the characters as roommates living together in an apartment.  A package is delivered and instead of being received by Simon, nosy Ben gets his hands on it resulting in their world turned up side down and death being a certain factor.  

Written and directed by Stoney Swaze and David Lopez, it delivers tear-jerking humor that can be received by all audiences.  Andrew Ruben and Michael Mendez tackle the audio and Anthony Arriaga as the camera man.  

The team is currently in the writing room coming up with ideas that will surpass the pilot episode in content.  As always, F.I.R.S.T. lends its facilities to the students allowing them to turn their imagination into works of art.

Would you like to create short films? Contact F.I.R.S.T. today and get started tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Film Class 114: Get Your Crunch On!

As of November 2011, F.I.R.S.T. School Film Class 114 created and launched four stunning Doritos commercials for  "Crash the Superbowl Party".  

Not only will these commercials be for demo reel content but also for a  potential crash prize!

Film students Paul Lucero, Callie Rasmussen, Audrey Ramos, Geraldo Molano and Jason Smolowitz make use of the F.I.R.S.T’s technology and the teachings of instructor David Lopez to produce the entertaining 30 second commercials.  

The Doritos contest judges will sort through the submissions and eliminate until they have the top 5.  Only then will the public be allowed to vote. Voting begins January 4, 2012. Cast your vote in support of the F.I.R.S.T. School's Film Program!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

F.I.R.S.T. Offers Online Music Business Workshop

With the great success of our "Music Business Workshop" offered at F.I.R.S.T. School, we decided it was time to create an online course to offer to all students interested in learning more about the music business. 

The online version of this 1-month workshop will be accepting registrations for the January 2011 launch date. F.I.R.S.T. School has been offering this workshop on campus for the past few years and is designed to accent the business needs of those students looking to create a entertainment business or understand more about the music industry.  

The topics that will be covered are Leadership, Marketing, Distribution, Merchandizing, Finance, Contract Negotiations, Artist Management, Copyright Law, Promotion, Publicity, Event and Show Production.  

The "Music Business Workshop Online" is launching Jan. 9th, 2012. Registration Fee will be $149.99.  "Click Here" to register now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cool & Dre Signs Production Deal with F.I.R.S.T. School Graduate

F.I.R.S.T. School graduate Brian (Yung Ladd) Pickens is making major over in the music industry. He graduated from the Audio Engineering and Music Production program in September of 2010. Since then, he has been back in forth from Orlando to Miami working 
on various music projects for Cool & Dre. Be on the look out for Yung Ladd!

Cool & Dre’s recent signee and protégée, 20-year old Brian Pickens known as Yung Ladd is quickly making a name for himself as a producer. Having produced “It’s Good”, 
one of the most talked about tracks off of Lil Wayne’s Platinum album Tha Carter IV, he 
is on his way to a bright future as a music creator.
What makes this story even more special is that Yung Ladd was introduced to Cool & Dre through his mother, Lisa Truss 4 years ago when she sent a humanitarian request via MySpace to Cool & Dre. Yung Ladd was 16 years old when he became gravely ill and his mom thought an encouraging word from his idols would help lift his spirits. To
Lisa’s surprise Cool responded to her request and the super producers met with Yung 
Ladd in Florida with the assistance of the Make A Wish Foundation. Thankfully, Ladd received the life changing care he needed and his health continues to improve.

Over the years Cool & Dre saw how incredibly talented Yung Ladd was as a producer and signed him to a production deal through their imprint Epidemic Music. Ladd then made the move from his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Orlando, Florida to continue his mentorship with Cool & Dre. Ladd’s next track will be Fat Joe’s “Another Round” featuring Chris Brown. Ladd is also producing tracks for Don Trip, Bird Man, The Game, Chris Brown, Usher and more. Expect to hear much more music from this incredible young talent. 

Would you like to be the next music deal success story? 

Consider a career in music production at F.I.R.S.T. School! Check out the website for more information, videos, photos, class information, and more. Graduate in 8 months! Get started today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Audio Tips & Tricks: Mixing for Vinyl Records

Did you know?
The total sales of vinyl were up 14% in 2010, selling 2.8 million total units. Classic album releases account for many of the sales, as the Beatles' Abbey Road was the top selling vinyl record last year, but new releases from Black Keys, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire also had remarkable sales on vinyl. The sales of CDs fell by nearly 20% for the fourth year in a row and digital sales only gained 1%, with an overall 12.8% drop in all U.S. album sales. All of this is mostly due to rampant piracy still very prevalent in the music industry.
So it seems the only medium that is not only maintaining it’s sales levels, but growing rapidly is the trusty vinyl LP. Almost every major label and working independent artist are being released on vinyl because of these figures. So as professional audio engineers we should be familiar with some of the techniques and standards of recording and mixing for vinyl.

To properly mix for vinyl requires an awareness of what the medium can and cannot do. Unlike digital the laws of physics dictate the way we work with wax (wax is what many engineers and DJ’s call vinyl, referring to the original wax masters audio was recorded to). This first thing to take into account with vinyl is playing time. Your standard 33 1/3 LP can fit approximately 23 minutes of program material per side the 45 7” can fit around 4 minutes per side (now you see why the length of a typical pop song is under 4 minutes).

Instructors at F.I.R.S.T. School can teach you all about music recording! 
Check out the F.I.R.S.T. School website for more information!

The length of your songs per side dictate the loudness of your wax. In basic terms the wider the groove, called the lateral excursion, the louder or stronger the signal is. This is why the 12” single became popular with dance music. One song taking up the entire side of a LP would have a giant groove and play really loud with extended low frequencies, conversely trying to fit 5 or 6 songs on one side of a 12” would make the grooves very narrow and there therefore would be quieter. Talk with the vinyl mastering engineer to advise you on level versus playing time to help you decide on song order or wether you need more than on LP for release.
With mixing for vinyl you must be careful with extreme high frequencies (HF). Vocal sibilance, cymbals, some brass instruments, and any aggressive high frequency EQ will cause real problems with cutting the wax. Prior to cutting the vinyl the RIAA HF pre-emphasis is added to the audio and if the signal has too high levels of HF there is a chance of damaging the disc cutting head or a least a very unpleasant effect on the record.
Low frequencies (LF) will present a different set of problems, in particular equal levels of opposing phase information. This will make the record player (typically with cheaper cartridges) unable to properly track the vertical movement while the vinyl spins and the groove changes form shallow/narrow to deep/wide. Usually a LF crossover system is employed to make sure that low frequencies are reordered and and cut so LF is equal in both left and right channels. These errors can be caused by improper mic technique that cause phase issues, over panning of LF instruments (this is why your kick drum and bass instruments are typically best in the center of a mix), effects that create extreme out of phase conditions like flangers and too much reverb, or over equalization of low end. All of these recording and mixing errors will make the vinyl uncuttable.

Also keep in mind that the vinyl disc doesn’t have the full range that digital media has. Keep this in mind when mixing and mastering. Don’t make your mix levels too loud or use a brick wall limiter to aggressively when mastering. If you approach your mixing with these basics in mind, the transfer to wax will be a successful and great sounding process. But if you don’t you will leave your mixes to the skill of the cutting engineer, who will use whatever processing needed to protect their equipment and get you mix to play on vinyl. This leaves no guarantee that your mix will sound like what you had envisioned once it hits wax.

Are you fascinated with music recording? Learn more about Audio Recording, Audio Engineering, and Music Production at the F.I.R.S.T. School website!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sean Paul and Power 95.3 Radio Visit F.I.R.S.T. School

Sean Paul, Jamaican dance hall super-star visits the F.I.R.S.T. School in Orlando, Florida, to promote his new single "Got 2 Luv U" featuring Alexis Jordan. Thanks to Power 95.3 radio, Orlando's #1 Station for Hip Hop and R&B, listeners were able to win a chance to be apart of this huge event at the F.I.R.S.T. School
The afternoon started out with the Power 95.3 street team prepping the school with Sean Paul flyers, posters, and creating an interview area in the film sound stage. 

F.I.R.S.T. School Director, Alan K. Forbes, says "It's great to have such an influential music icon interact with fans and up and coming entertainment professionals. This really means a lot to our students".  Thanks to a Cox Media Group Production Manager, and F.I.R.S.T. School graduate Erik Velez the F.I.R.S.T. School continues to have excellent opportunities like this on a regular basis.  
Once the event was set up, Sean Paul and his entourage entered through the front door and was meet with tons of students and fans taking pictures and signing autographs. Once Sean Paul made it to the interview area it was all about the fans. He played songs from his new album, and was open to answering any question that was asked to him. 

Totally unscripted were two up and coming Hip Hop artist from the F.I.R.S.T. School that actually got to sign a hook and rap with Sean Paul. School Director, Donney Smith, says, "I was completely amazed that when these two up and coming artist asked if they could sing a hook and freestyle with Sean Paul that he took the challenge. The energy in the room was amazing!"  

Check out the F.I.R.S.T. School website to learn more about exciting upcoming music events!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

International Songwriting Competition 2011

What is ISC?

The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is an annual song contest whose mission is to provide the opportunity for both aspiring and established songwriters to have their songs heard in a professional, international arena. ISC is designed to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels and promote excellence in the art of songwriting. Amateur and professional songwriters and musicians are invited to participate. ISC has the most prestigious panel of judges of all the songwriting and music contests in the world, offering exposure and the opportunity to have your songs heard by the most influential decision-makers in the music industry.

This year in 2011, more than $150,000 in cash and prizes will be shared among the 68 winners, including an overall Grand Prize of $25,000 (US) cash and $20,000 in music equipment, services, and more! The deadline is approaching soon on September 21, 2011, so enter your songs now.

It's very easy to submit your songs. If you have a Myspace page, you can enter through Myspace - which is really easy because ISC will go to your page and listen to your songs there (you don't even need to send us your songs!). Of course, you can also enter online with an mp3, or you can mail your songs (ISC accepts CD, tape, or DVD for music video entries).

Not only does ISC give away the largest cash Grand Prize of any songwriting competition in the world, but ISC also has the most high-profile judges, the most categories, and the coolest winners. ISC has lots of great new judges for 2011, so scroll down and check them out - this means new judges listening to all the finalists' songs and picking the 2011 winners (this could be you!).

Winning ISC isn't just about the cash and prizes. The recognition, exposure, and kudos of winning ISC add to the reasons to enter and the benefits of winning. ISC is looking for great songs and songwriters - so, whether you're a professional songwriter or just starting out, ISC welcomes your entries. In the past four years, three of ISC's Grand Prize winners have been signed to major label record deals (Epic, Universal, and Motown) and the fourth winner was signed to Peer Music, a publishing company. Additionally, many winners have been signed to other publishing deals, licensing deals, etc. A few years ago, an unknown band called The Band Perry was a finalist with the song, "If I Die Young." This year they were nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Country Song for the same song.


AAA (Adult Album Alternative), Adult Contemporary (AC), Americana, Blues, Children's Music, Comedy/Novelty, Country, Dance/Electronica, Folk/Singer-Songwriter, Gospel/Christian, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin Music, Lyrics Only, Music Video, Performance, Pop/Top 40, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Teen, Unsigned Only, and World Music


Recording Artists: Tom Waits; Ozzy Osbourne; Tori Amos; My Morning Jacket; Jeff Beck; Keane; Janelle Monae; Billy Currington; Kelly Clarkson; McCoy Tyner; Wynonna; Francesca Battistelli; Massive Attack; Michael W. Smith; Alejandro Sanz; Tegan and Sara; Jeremy Camp; Ray Wylie Hubbard; John Mayall; Craig Morgan; James Cotton; Trombone Shorty; Johnny Clegg; Robert Earl Keen; Black Francis (The Pixies); Roger Taylor and Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran); Basement Jaxx; Mose Allison; Robert Smith (The Cure); Darryl McDaniels (Run D.M.C.); Toots Hibbert (Toots & The Maytals); Chayanne; Amadou & Mariam; Sandra Bernhard; and more to be announced...


Monte Lipman (President, Universal Republic Records); David Massey (President, Mercury Records); Brian Malouf (VP of A&R, Walt Disney Records); Trevor Jerideau (VP of A&R, J Records); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); Angel Carrasco (Sr. VP of A&R, Latin America, Sony/BMG); Ric Arboit (President, Nettwerk Music Group); Steve Smith (VP of A&R, Aware Records); Cory Robbins (Founder/President, Robbins Entertainment); Anastasia Brown (Music Supervisor, FORMAT); Antony Bland (A&R, American Recordings); Allison Jones (VP of A&R, Big Machine Label Group); Steve Lillywhite (Producer); Trevor Jerideau (VP of A&R, J Records); Dan Storper (President, Putamayo World Music Records and Putumayo Kids); Kim Buie (VP of A&R, Lost Highway); Douglas C. Cohn (Sr. VP, Music Marketing & Talent, Nickelodeon); Dr. Demento (Radio Host, The Dr. Demento Show); and more to be announced.

For more information, visit:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Casting Call for Student Short Film, "We're Cougars" - The F.I.R.S.T. School

The F.I.R.S.T. School Film & Video Production class presents a casting call for a short film titled,  "We're Cougars".


Casting for:

• Mike: Male 20's, good looking, cocky frat guy and best friend to Brian.

• Brian: Male, 20's, shy and laid back college guy and friends with Mike.

• Tony: Male, 20's, Jersey Shore type guy who sells out Mike and Brian.

• Bouncer: Male, 20 to 30's big guy, should look like a bouncer.

• Bartender: Male/Female, 40 or older, creepy looking.

• Alexis: Female, 35 to 45, leader of the were-cougars.

• Roxy: Female, 35 to 45, latina, a were-cougar and second in command to Alexis.

• Vicky: Female, 35 to 45, any race, a were-cougar and comedy relief character.

Extras Needed for Club Scene. Any sex, race, between ages 25 to 45.

**TALENT should be from the ORLANDO AREA.**

Casting Dates:

August 15th, 2011. 6pm to 9 pm


Shooting Dates:

For 3 days between August 22, 2011 to September 30, 2011


The F.I.R.S.T. School, 2309 Silver Star Rd. Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 316-8310


Florida Motion Picture & Television Association - Metro Orlando event

Altamonte Springs, Florida – Florida Motion Picture & Television Association (FMPTA), Metro Orlando Chapter is proud to present Mr. Bill Grefe, FMPTA’s Co-Founder, Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, and Metro Orlando Chapter Life Member as well as Film Florida Legend, as its honored guest and speaker on Monday, August 15th, 2011, at 7pm at The Hilton Orlando, Altamonte Springs. A reception for Mr. Grefe precedes the presentation at 6pm.

William Grefe’s career began as a television writer, and when the opportunity presented itself, he turned to writing feature films. During the production of his first motion picture script, The Checkered Flag, the movie’s director became ill and Grefe was drafted into assuming the director’s chores. He brought the film in ahead of schedule and it ended up grossing ten times its negative costs. Riding the wave of that first big success, Grefe continued to write, produce and direct many theatrical, money-making, motion pictures, including Stanley, Mako, and Cease Fire.

Grefe’s film and television career has run the gamut from Producer/Director of over 25 feature films, to chief operating officer of three film companies. He has directed countless TV commercials for major corporations such as General Motors, Whirlpool, and Bacardi. He is a filmmaker who has the reputation of controlling the budget, yet delivering quality film. He is an all around filmmaker who has worked as a producer, director, writer, executive producer, line producer, studio executive, and distributor whose feature films and television shows are being shown theatrically, on TV, cable, video tape, and DVD worldwide. He is not only an internationally known filmmaker, but is a respected business man and executive who has excellent experience in film distribution. He has advised and negotiated distribution contracts for dozens of companies and individuals.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have Bill, as our founder, reach out to me, expressing his pleasure of the FMPTA’s current activities and that he has agreed to share his experience with us,” explained Metro Orlando Chapter President and State President, Thomas P. Mitchell, Sr. “We are honored to be in the presence of an FMPTA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and a Film Florida Legend and look forward to experiencing Florida’s motion picture history and opportunities through his eyes.” 

Reception and presentation are open to the public.

FMPTA serves the motion picture, television, audio recording, theater, and digital media industries in the State of Florida. Members include producers, directors, casting agents, cameramen, actors, stuntmen, technicians, make-up artists, set designers, equipment rental companies, recording studios and trade/craft services.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Livin' the Movie-Making Dream! Graduate Spotlight of Jimmy Dempsey - The F.I.R.S.T. School

We interviewed with a F.I.R.S.T. School film and video graduate, Jimmy Dempsey. He's now working on some really awesome projects across Florida!  Check out our interview and photos below!
Hello, Jimmy! Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk to us.

It's my pleasure.

Well, Tell us a little bit about you and what program you attended here at F.I.R.S.T?

Well, my name is Jimmy Dempsey. I'm 25, grew up in a little town called Bradenton, FL and just graduated recently from the F.I.R.S.T. School about 2 months ago, getting a diploma in Comprehensive Film and Video Production.

What made you decide to choose the F.I.R.S.T. School over other schools?

Main reason why I decided to go to F.I.R.S.T. School first and foremost was the financial factor! Every school I wanted to go to was at least $80,000 for 2 years or so! The F.I.R.S.T. School offered me what I needed in only 8 months for far less! Also, other schools were way over-crowded and too large of classes when my classroom was only a total of 7 people. I got to actually get close with my teachers and classmates and learn everything I needed to know one on one, unlike most other schools.

What were your career plans while attending F.I.R.S.T, what did you want to do?

Originally, my main focus was going to learn more about post-production. Final Cut Pro, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro, etc. I loved everything about it and wanted to learn to my utmost capability to do it for a living. Thanks to F.I.R.S.T., I started off interning at a studio in Sarasota, Florida while in school, called Sanborn Studios. It's a state-of-the-art sound stage and post-production facility with the 2nd largest green-screen in Florida. I got to use these tools in the field, the chance to work side-by-side with the V.P. of Productions, and did a lot of editing for different projects.
Have your career plans changed since then, how so?

Absolutely! Later on in school, I got hired on at Sanborn Studios full-time, and got pushed a lot to be a camera operator for different productions. Then a day came around and I had the pleasure of working as a 2nd AC for my first TV Pilot called Workers Comp with Morgan Fairchild (General Hospital), Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), Jay LaRose (Saw III, Saw IV), and Charley Koontz (Community). 

After that experience, I started enjoying that more than anything else. Now, if there's a camera in front of me, there's not a chance I won't be messing with it and different primes! Now, I'm always pursuing different productions doing AC work and I've never enjoyed life as much as I do now.

What have you been doing since graduation? I hear you're working on a lot of cool productions right now?

It's been crazy actually! Immediately after graduation, I ventured off into the freelance business and had the chance to do my first full feature called The Perfect Wedding with Jim Rebhorn (Independence Day) and Kristine Sutherland (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids). I was a 2nd AC/DIT, living out of a mansion for 3 weeks in Sarasota, Florida on the bay, and got to work with the most amazing crew I could ever ask for... Probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life by far. 

After we wrapped, just 2 days later I was picked up for a new TV Show called Magic City for Starz Miami Productions, LLC, which I was completely stoked about! So, I packed my bags, and am now living out of Miami, Florida! It's been pretty epic so far, never seen such a massive set and crew before.
Neat! So what are your plans for the future?

Right now, I'm planning on staying down here in Miami until at least Season 1 is over. I'm gonna keep pursuing other productions around here since there are so many opportunities in the area. It's unreal how many there are! I will be also launching a brand new website within the next month or 2, so please keep on the look-out for it! I also have some other stuff my sleeve but I won't be announcing that for some time now.

If you had one thing to tell future students wanting to get into this career field, what would you tell them?

All I can say is NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! Getting in the field is hard; you can send hundreds of resumes out there constantly and never get a reply. Trust me, I know... But, the minute you do get an opportunity, work your hardest, work diligently, and work smart! Also, take any internship opportunities that are available up, it's the best way to start your networking and to make your starting mark in the industry. Experience is power! 

Also, be someone YOU would want to work around with! You could be the greatest camera operator I've ever met in my life, but if you act stuck-up, high and mighty, and/or a jerk, why would I ever want to work with you again or refer you to someone else... The industry is big, but it's a small network, everyone knows everyone so never burn a bridge and always make a great first impression. Make your first opportunities your foundation, and build your network from that point on.

Great advice! Well thank you so much for sitting down with us Jimmy and we look forward to hearing more good news from you in the future. 

Would you like to be livin' the movie-making dream like our graduate, Jimmy? 

Would you like to work with beautiful, talented people on major movie sets in places like Miami? 

If you answered, "Yes!", then call today to start livin' your dream tomorrow! Call (407) 316-8310 or visit the F.I.R.S.T. School website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot Chicks and Cool Cars - "Hood and the Wolf" Film - F.I.R.S.T. School

Check out some still shots from F.I.R.S.T. School's Film and Video class #111. They're shooting their final senior project which is their short, action-packed film titled, "Hood & The Wolf." Here's a couple of shots of them working on our green screen sound stage!

If you would like to get in on the excitement of a career in film and video production, visit the F.I.R.S.T. School website to watch videos, see more photos, and learn about all the financial aid avialable to help make your dream come true of becoming a film director, videographer, editor (and more)!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 Resume Writing Tips - Career Development - F.I.R.S.T. School

Tip 1 - Use Titles or Headings That Match The Jobs You Want
With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer's attention within a 5-second glance. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want. For example, compare the headings Roger used in his before resume to the headings used in his after resume.

Before Resume:
Accounting / Recordkeeping
Computer Skills

After Resume:
Management of A/R and A/P Accounts
Computerized Accounting Applications
Departmental Administration / Recordkeeping

Which set of headings are the strongest for an Accounts Payable / Receivable Manager position?
Even though Roger's title was Accounting Assistant, he actually managed over 1,000 A/R and A/P accounts. Using skill headings that market the true nature of Roger's job duties will generate him more interviews and higher salary offers. 

Tip 2 - Use Design That Grabs Attention
Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume. If they see unrelated job titles or skills the likelihood is very high that they will make an immediate assumption that you are not qualified for the job you want. Adding to this problem is the fact that employers don't have the time to read through each of your job descriptions to determine if you have the skills they need.

You Must Do That For Them! The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.

Tip 3 - Create Content That Sells
Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive. Compare the before and after statements from Roger's resume shown below:

Before Resume:
Maintained records for accounts receivable and accounts payable accounts.

After Resume:
Managed over 1,000 accounts receivable and payable accounts working directly with the Chief Financial Officer.

Which of these examples presents Roger as being more qualified, having higher skills and worth a higher salary? As this example illustrates, our image of Roger is changed and elevated when we read the after example.

Tip 4 - Quantify and Use Power Words
As Roger's after statement demonstrates, using numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities can greatly expand and elevate your image. Using numbers and quantifying creates vivid images in our mind when we read them, whereas general statements like the before examples are easy to skip over or forget. Typically the more specific you can be in describing your duties the better.
Another strategy that is extremely important in controlling the image that employers develop about you--is to use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want. For example, Roger wants to use the experience he's gained to move into a management position. To strengthen his image he should use as many "management oriented" words as possible. Which example below do you think is the strongest?

Typical Verbs:
Gave work assignments to staff of entry level accounting clerks.

Power Words:
Directed workflow, supervised and trained accounting staff performing posting to general ledger, accounts receivable and payable accounts.

Tip 5 - Analyze Ads and Job Descriptions to Identify Key Words
Learning how to analyze the key words that employers provide in help wanted ads and job descriptions is a key element in creating powerful resumes. For example, read the ad Roger found for an Accounts Receivable Manager below and see how many key words, phrases, or skill descriptions that it includes.

Accounts Receivable Manager
Seeking experienced A/R Manager to oversee accounts, manage billing and collections, train accounting and clerical staff, develop status reports for management and prepare monthly balance sheets. B.A. Degree or A.A. Degree with minimum of 2 years experience required.
Even though this ad is small it contains 12-13 key words or phrases that should be addressed in Roger's resume. Roger can also key words from an ad like this to create headings for his resume such as:

Key Word Skill Headings
Management of A/R Accounts
Billing and Collections
Supervision of Accounting and Administrative Staff
Balance Sheet and Management Status Reports

Tip 6 - Identify and Solve Employer's Hidden Needs
In addition to the skills or needs listed in the ad shown above, the employer will have many more needs that Roger should identify and address in his resume and cover letter. For example, this employer will need someone who can deal effectively with other departments, research accounting issues and records to solve problems. To beat today's heavy competition for jobs, it's important that you identify and anticipate the full range of needs each employer faces and show how you can solve those needs.

Tip 7 - Sell the Benefits of Your Skills
Most resumes provide a list of duties that each applicant has been responsible for--without explaining the benefit of those skills to employers. For example, a secretary's resume might state she can type 80 wpm and is extremely accurate. This statement lacks an explanation of how her typing speed and accuracy benefit an employer's bottom line. The real benefit is that the employee can produce more work and ultimately save the employer money. A better statement for this person's resume would be:

Selling The Benefits of Skills
· Achieved top production volume by maintaining high degree of accuracy with typing speed at 80 wpm.· Cut labor expense over $6,000 annually by eliminating the need for part-time wordprocessing staff.

Tip 8 - Create An Image That Matches The Salary You Want
As you write your resume, keep in mind the level of job and salary you want. Be sure to create an image that presents you at the appropriate level. For example, language used in a resume for an $8 an hour position is much different than the language used for a $16 an hour position. I recently met Lynn, who had held a Health Insurance Claims Management position making $42,000 per year. She had retrained for the accounting field and hadn't yet gained any "direct accounting experience" although she had prepared monthly accounting reports as a Department Manager.
I was appalled when she shared the resume she had been counseled to create. It began with this statement:

Seeking an entry level position in the accounting field.
Now what pay rate do you think this statement would motivate employers to offer Lynn? A much better statement would be:

Seek an Accounting position utilizing my experience:
· Managing a department and accounting for up to $250,000 in monthly claims.

Tip 9 - Prioritize the Content of Your Resume
Another big mistake that job seekers make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions. As you compile statements for your resume, prioritize them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember that a strong statement which uses power words and quantifies will affect every statement under it. Read the two examples below. Which one has the most impact?

Maintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance.
Managed front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives.

Managed front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives. Maintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance.

Tip 10 - Tweak and Target Your Resumes and Cover Letters
You will generate many more interviews by tweaking your resume and cover letter so that they address the specific skills each employer requests. For example, Sally originally wanted a customer service position, then found an ad for a Retail Management opening. How well qualified do the headings in the left hand column present her for the Retail Management position? Do you think the headings in the right hand column will generate more and better interviews for Retail Management positions?

Customer Service
Cash Accountability
Computer Skills
Retail Management / Customer Service
Cash Accountability / Supervision of Retail Stations
Retail Accounting Applications

Sally's actual title had been Lead Cashier, even though she managed her own retail cashiering station in addition to 6 other cashiers and stations. Once Sally had created her original resume, it only took about 5 minutes to tweak and relabel her skill descriptions to fit Retail Management positions. This "relabeling" is entirely truthful and is extremely important in landing more interviews because it allows job seekers to apply for, and look qualified for, a wider range of jobs.

Do you need more help with your resume writing skills? Contact the Career Development Department at F.I.R.S.T. (Florida Institute of Recording, Sound, and Technology). Call (407) 316-8310 or email:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 Ways to Get Your Resume Noticed! - Career Development - F.I.R.S.T. School

Five Pragmatic Things You Can Do to Make Sure Your Resume Gets Seen by Hiring Managers

By Martin Yate, author of Knock 'em Dead - Secrets and Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World 
1. Target Job Title. A resume cannot be all things to all people. It needs to focus on a specific job and carry a target job title, coming right after contact information ( 80% of resumes lack this and start instead with a Job Objective); your email address should be hyperlinked. Recruiters use the target job title in database searches and using one helps your resume be pulled for review by a hiring manager, and the title then gives the hiring manager an immediate focus.

2. Sell to the customer's needs: Don't sell what you think are your strong points in a resume, find out what the customers (hiring manager) want to buy. Do a Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) on 6 job postings to determine how employers prioritize their needs, and the words they use to describe them. Recruiters search resume databases using the approved job title and the words used in the job description. By doing TJD you know what skills employers value in this job, how they prioritize them and the words they are likely to use in database searches: in short you have a template for the story your resume must tell.

3. Replace Job/Career Objective (no one cares what you want), with Performance Profile. Managers do performance reviews on all employees every year so the phrase has immediacy and relevance. Beneath the heading address the heart of what you do in your professional work: Take the first 4-5 priorities from your TJD and turn them into short sentences running no more than five lines.

4. Core Competencies. Follow the Performance Profile with a Core Competency section. This contains all the words and phrases that were used in the job postings to describe your work (example: A/P, A/R, Quarterly P&L). List all the words and phrases that apply to you in columns; then repeat the words in the context of each of the jobs where they were applied, this way you get to use keywords that will be used by recruiters as search terms at least once and possibly two or three times; this will improve your database ranking. A hiring manager will read Core Competency section as headlines for all the skills you can talk about.

5. Together, a Target Job title, Target Job Deconstruction, Performance Profile and Core Competency section pack all the information into the first half page of your resume, to improve its database performance and to tell any recruiter or hiring manager of your ability and suitability for the job. This opening to a resume tells any reader you can do the job and you "get" what is truly important.

Read more on the Simply Hired Blog:

If you need help with your resume, cover letter, and job search techniques, contact the Career Development Depart at F.I.R.S.T. - we're here to help you! Call (407) 316-8310 or email:

Monday, June 20, 2011

8 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid - Career Development F.I.R.S.T

During your job search after graduating from F.I.R.S.T. (Florida Institute of Recording, Sound, and Technology), you will probably apply to hundreds of jobs, creating customized resumes and cover letters for each position. Most people spend a considerable amount of time perfecting their resume to best reflect their experience and show off their accomplishments, but throw their cover letter together quickly or worse—don't write a cover letter at all.
To make sure your cover letter gets noticed, make sure to avoid the following mistakes:
  1. Not personalizing your greeting – If possible, address your cover letter to the person doing the hiring (Ex: "Dear Mr. Thompson" or "Dear Ms. Fleming"). However, if the recruiter or hiring manager's name is unisex, include their full name: "Dear Pat Chang." If you can't find the hiring manager or recruiter's name, avoid addressing the cover letter to "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" in the 50/50 chance you guess wrong. Instead, use a gender-neutral phrase such as "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Selection Committee."

  2. Writing a generic cover letter – Although creating a template cover letter can be a time-saver during your job search, you should customize each one to each employer and job to show how you fit the requirements. Not to mention, accidentally inserting the wrong job title or forgetting to switch out the name of the employer is a sure-fire way to get your application dumped in the trash or deleted.

  3. Writing too much or too little – Many recruiters and hiring managers won't spend a lot of time reading your cover letter, but you need to include enough information to sell yourself. Keep your cover letter to two or three high-impact paragraphs that describe how you fit the role's requirements and are a perfect candidate for the position.

  4. Making it all about you – While it's important to show off all of your awesome experience, the cover letter should equally be about you and the employer. Through your cover letter, show how you can benefit the company if they hire you and how you fit the employer’s needs.

  5. Forgetting to include your contact information – Resumes and cover letters can easily become separated, so make sure to include you contact information on both documents. By doing so, an employer can still know how to contact you by referring to your cover letter.

  6. Forgetting to proofread – Many job seekers forget to proofread their cover letter or do it too quickly and miss some of those pesky typos. If your cover letter has too many misspellings, typos, or grammar mistakes, you won't send a positive message to the employer. Ask some friends or family members to review before sending.

  7. Not following directions – If the employer has asked that you address a certain question in your cover letter or send it in a particular format, make sure you follow these directions. Employers often base their decisions on information they ask you to include and sometimes include application instructions—such as including the cover letter in the body of the email—as a way to test how well candidates can follow directions. If you can't follow their instructions, it's an easy way to eliminate you from consideration.

  8. Not sending a cover letter – Some job seekers don't even attach a cover letter when they apply for a job or include a quick note such as "My resume is attached." Take the time to write a clean, professional and direct cover letter that introduces you to the employer and addresses how you fit the specific requirements for the role.
Read more on the Simply Hired Blog:

If you need help writing your cover letter, contact the Career Development Department at F.I.R.S.T by calling (407) 316-8310 or email:

If you are considering a career in Audio Engineering, Music Production, or Film and Video Production,  visit the F.I.R.S.T. School website for more information:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Local and National Film and Video Organizations - Career Development - F.I.R.S.T. School

In today’s communication-driven world, just about everybody has to do it. One of the best ways to keep enhancing your qualifications, and fortifying your brand, is to join and build a professional network of talented people to think and grow with. 
To make this easier for you, F.I.R.S.T. (Florida Institute of Recording, Sound, and Technology) is providing a list of local and national film and video organizations you should consider joining and/or at sign up to be on their free mailing lists, where you will be informed of upcoming industry events, news, job openings, and more helpful information! * Keep in mind, many of these professional organizations offer student discounted rate membership fees. 

A non-profit industry association connecting Florida's digital media and e-entertainment companies, institutions, and industry professionals and providing for the continuing development and worldwide recognition of Florida's digital media and e-entertainment.
Through the collective voice of more than 15,000 members that the DGA represents, the Guild seeks to protect directorial teams’ legal and artistic rights, contend for their creative freedom, and strengthen their ability to develop meaningful and credible careers.
A not-for-profit corporation that provides a leadership role in Florida’s film and entertainment production industries by representing a coalition of interests including private industry, industry associations, labor organizations, and local film commissions. Its purpose is to offer to business and individuals the benefits of a statewide trade association, to promote the creation of jobs in the film and entertainment production industries, and to promote economic development and tourism.
A not-for-profit organization comprised of volunteer members from Florida's production industry. The primary objective of FMPTA is to encourage and facilitate increased film, video, and sound recording production within Florida. Unlike other industry organizations, it is made up of persons involved in all areas of the production industry.
A non-profit professional membership organization that advocates globally on issues related to digital game creation.
Represents more than 165,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and information America and the world.
Founded in 1916 to advance theory and development in the motion imaging field. Today, SMPTE publishes ANSI-approved Standards, Recommended Practices, and Engineering Guidelines, along with the highly regarded SMPTE Journal and its peer-reviewed technical papers. SMPTE holds conferences and local Section meetings to bring people and ideas together, allowing for useful interaction and information exchange.
The entertainment industry’s only organization representing the full breadth of visual effects practitioners including artists, technologists, model makers, educators, studio leaders, supervisors, PR/marketing specialists and producers in all areas of entertainment from film, television and commercials, to music videos and games. Comprised of a diverse group of more than 2,500 members in 29 countries, the VES strives to enrich and educate its own members and members of the entertainment community at large through a multitude of domestic and international events, screenings, and programs.
A non-profit association for career professionals, both women and men, working in film, television and other programming media. Charged with building positive images of media makers, empowering teams to achieve their highest professional and creative potential, and helping create more job opportunities throughout the State of Florida.
A labor union of thousands of professionals who are the primary creators of what is seen or heard on television and film in the US, as well as the writers of a growing portion of original digital media content. Members write everything from big budget movies to independent films, late night comedy/variety shows to daytime serials, broadcast and radio news, web series, documentaries, and animation. The WGAE works on their behalf to promote and protect the professional and artistic interests of this diverse community.
If you would like to learn about Film and Video Production, visit the website of F.I.R.S.T. (Florida Institute of Recording, Sound, and Technology) to view videos, learn more about the programs and classes offered, and receive a free tour of the school!