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Useful skills in media

The creative industries are known for being challenging to break into. Here, we'll look at some key skills you'll need to succeed.
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© University of York; Jade Gordon

The creative industries are known for being competitive and hard to break into; you’ll need drive, determination and a positive can-do attitude to succeed. With many hardworking, dedicated creatives working in the industry, your motivation and persistence will be key.

Although you don’t need to be set on a specific job role right now, it is useful to have a think about where your skills may best lie within the industry. Once you begin to gain industry experience and learn more about the responsibilities of your colleagues, you can consider what role you may suit. There really is no rush to make a decision and many work for a few years in the industry before deciding on their chosen career path.

Many creatives working in the screen industries are freelance. You’re likely to move from job to job, so it’s important you stand out to secure your next contract. Here are some useful skills to help you stand out!

Great communication

Whether you are working as part of a team, setting up for a shoot, or liaising with outside organisations, one of the most important skills when working in the screen industries is strong communication. You could be liaising with clients or crew, or regularly checking in with contributors, so strong verbal communication skills are key. It’s great to have confidence when speaking to people in person and over the phone.

In addition, strong written communication skills are also essential when liaising with your team and other contacts – whether that’s writing emails, typing up notes, preparing presentations, writing call sheets, writing website content or social media copy. Being a great communicator is especially useful when working on fast turnaround, stressful projects; ensuring colleagues are on the same page, whilst reducing the chances of crossed wires, confrontation and mistakes.

You may have already developed these skills when working collaboratively on class projects, taking part in hobbies and clubs, volunteering and organising events or activities. We use our communication skills on a daily basis as we interact with others, sending messages and emails, building rapport with teachers and colleagues and conversing with friends or family over the phone, as well as in person.


Everyone working in the screen industries is creative, which is why we’ve chosen to work in such an exciting industry where no two days are the same. People enjoy the informal office environments, where creative juices flow as new ideas are developed and actioned.

Whatever your role, you’ll be given the chance to thrive in a creative environment and influence the content being made. This brings great responsibility, so harness what you are good at – whether that’s brainstorming ideas, sharing your vision, creating budgets or schedules, developing new characters, script writing or designing pitch decks. Always be prepared to muck in and work collaboratively with your team. Your creativity may impact audiences for generations.

Strong organisation

Another important skill when working in the screen industries is good organisation. You’re often juggling many tasks simultaneously and it’s helpful to know which to prioritise. If you’re not sure how to prioritise heavy workloads, do ask for help! You’ll need to manage your own time if working independently to tight deadlines, and if you’re working within a team, you may need to delegate.


A degree of flexibility is essential in an industry where change is constant and where you’re often meeting new people and working in different environments. Problem solving is a large part of the job. As well as quickly adapting to new situations, you may need to respond to something unexpected and find solutions to arising issues. For example, you may be travelling to work in the morning with a packed suitcase and not know where you are going or you may be called back to the office unexpectedly after being sent on location. It’s important to go with the flow. You may often be required to work long hours.

Research skills

The ability to research is extremely important when working in the screen industries. This could be researching on the internet, contacting local companies, looking for newspaper articles, sourcing information from TV programmes and generally finding information.

Whether you’re working in a technical role, researching locations, setting up a shoot, sourcing stories, looking for suitable contributors or seeking art or costume supplies, the ability to find information and further develop your knowledge is really valuable. You can further enhance your learning by looking into current trends and delving into how the digital world is evolving.

The screen industries attract many people with a number of the above skills. Other useful skills in the screen industries include an inquisitive and curious mind, thirst for knowledge, technical skills such as filming or editing, computer skills and social media skills.

Find out more

Read more about the skills needed for filmmaking by Julian Langham. Julian is a freelance filmmaker and videographer based in London, UK.

For an insight into the games industry you can watch Jamie Sefton’s recent seminar hosted by the University of York. Jamie is Managing Director of Game Republic, the largest games network in the north of England.

Over to you

  • What do you think are the skills needed to work in the screen industries?
  • What are your skills?

As always, please do share your thoughts and comment below.

© University of York; Jade Gordon
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