1) A well-thought out cover letter. Some applicants don't even send a cover letter. Or they write one sentence. I don't have time to open a resume and guess why the person is applying for the job. I want the applicant to tell me in their own words why they want and feel they are right for the position.
Also, I prefer the cover letter to be in the email and not an attachment. Again, I don't have time to open attachments. If the cover letter is well written, I make the time to open resume attachments but feel free to put the resume in the email too. Anything to make my job easier is appreciated.
2) One page resume that is clearly organized and not overly crowded with text. Less is more. If you have a lot of credits, figure out how to condense them so the employer is not overwhelmed with too much to read. 20 page resumes scare me. Focus on the highlights in your career, not the kitchen sink.
3) The cover letter is professional and not too conversational. I don't know you yet. You are not my friend. So don't try to be funny or cute or interesting. Just the facts Jack. You can be funny and charming in the interview.
4) Your credentials correlate very well to the position for which I am hiring. Be focused about the jobs to which you are applying. Don't expect a call from me if you are a cook and looking for a job that requires you know Final Cut Pro. I will only call people who specifically point out how their skills mesh with the position. If it seems like a good fit then I will reach out.
5) Be one of the first to apply. This is a tough one because you may see an ad a few days after it has posted. Don't give up. You should still apply but know that you are now probably competing with about 1000 resumes (no joke) and that I may be too tired at that point to even open your email. But you never know. Your professionally written cover letter and great credentials may just grab my attention.
6) Be local. I won't consider any out of state applicants. Sorry. I need to find crew fast and being out of state doesn't fulfill my needs, unless I am filming in your state of course!
7) Have experience. Unless it is an internship, I need you to have experience in the job for which I am hiring. Entertainment jobs are often freelance and require experience. If you don't have experience then get out there and intern.
8) Working reel. If you are a DP or editor then you must have a reel. And it should be online and not take too long to load.
Okay, I'm going to stop there. I need to head in to the office and get to work!
My parting message to applicants: Be professional and tell the employer why you are a good fit for them. Make it easy on them to hire you.
And, most importantly, be focused in your search and try to lean on colleagues and friends and family for referrals to jobs. Your chances of getting the job you really want is through those who know and support you. Networking is the best job searching tool around. Good luck!