We get a LOT of questions about how to format a resume, and for good reason! Resumes are really tricky documents with very high stakes. Job candidates don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity they’re qualified for because they happened not to know the latest resume trends. Here are our answers to three of the most common questions we’re asked about resume formats:
What’s better: A beautiful, graphically designed resume or a traditional format?
If you’re going for a design job, leaning into your design skills on your resume is a definite plus, since it proves your skill set more than well-written bullets ever could. But the majority of roles in entertainment aren’t in graphic design, even though they’re creative, so nine times out of ten, you’ll want a traditional format. It’s not old school or outdated to create a simple document that’s easy to read; rather, it’s helpful to the hiring manager, who would prefer to scan a familiar document where she can find information easily. It’s also easier for applicant tracking systems, which aren’t capable of reading complicated documents. Channel the time and energy you’d spend perfecting your Canva template on writing strong bullet points and tapping into your network instead. And don’t worry too much about color – whether or not you put your name in blue isn’t going to increase or decrease your chances at getting an interview. We prefer black and white, but if you want a pop of color, just pick a color that isn’t too bright or pastel.
Should my resume be one page or longer?
For most jobs, a one-page resume is best. Hiring managers are busy, and the less they have to read to get a sense of your qualifications, the better. Think about it like reading scripts – you’ll always go with the shorter page count first! That said, there are some circumstances where two-pages make sense. First, if you’re going for high-level executive roles (VP and above), you may want to craft a CV that highlights your core skills, career highlights, awards, and/or speaking engagements in addition to your long work history, and one page simply won’t be enough. There are fewer applicants for these higher-level jobs, and hiring teams will take more time evaluating candidates, so it’s okay to have two pages. If you can stick to one, you should, so as not to waste time and space. And you should avoid bleeding onto a third page. Some other times you might want a two-pager is if you’re asked for a full credits list or if you need to combine a credits list with a breakdown of other work chronology and skills.
How should I organize my resume?
Your resume tells the story of how your career thus far has qualified you for the open role. Like with any story, there’s a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is always going to be your header, followed by the most critical piece of information the hiring manager needs to know for context to your resume. This could be a professional summary that explains how your work history aligns with your present goals, or your most recent experience, or the core skills you have that qualify you for the role, or your education, if it’s recent. There’s no hard and fast rule here as to which of these is most important to lead with – it all comes down to your unique story. The bulk of your resume should list your experience, most likely in reverse chronological order (there are rare situations where you might opt for a functional resume, which would group experiences together by skills or highlights, but this is not recommended for most candidates). If you have key skills and achievements from volunteer work or extracurricular activities, include those experiences in the same section as your professional experience. If you didn’t lead with education and you have a degree or relevant coursework, you’ll want to list that after experience, followed by technical and language skills, awards, professional affiliations, volunteer activities, and interests.
The main thing to keep in mind with formats is that you want to choose a format that works for you, instead of trying to mold your experience to fit a template. Your unique career story should be the focus of your resume, not your format.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan
Work changed A LOT over the last two years, and like most things in these “unprecedented times,” it continues to change. As we look forward to 2022, here are some career resolutions for this new era of work.
I resolve to strive for work/life balance, as I understand it. Work/life balance can mean a lot of different things. Maybe it involves working remotely full-time, or a hybrid at-home/in-office set-up, or establishing hard boundaries between home and the office with a return to full-time, in-person work. It can mean sacrificing some of the comforts of life for a huge work opportunity or scaling back on your hours to spend more time with family. There’s no right answer for how to juggle your priorities. You don’t have to quit your job and join The Great Resignation if you’re happy where you are, but if you do want to explore a major career shift, go for it! The important thing is to take stock of how you feel about your career and make sure it’s fitting into your expectations for your life. We know the world can turn on a dime tomorrow, so ask yourself: What can I do to be more fulfilled in my work/life balance today?
I resolve to own my uniqueness. Every career trajectory is different, and that’s especially true for the entertainment industry. You’ve probably heard that you need to break into the industry as an assistant at an agency and work your way up the ladder. Many folks with years of work experience continue to get that advice whenever they consider a shift to a new side of the industry. This kind of blanket advice isn’t helpful…or true. Plenty of people (ourselves included!) have successful careers without working at a major agency, and you certainly don’t have to throw out years of experience because you’ve changed your goals. Instead, take ownership of your skills and lean into your path. If you’re first starting out, an agency can be a great place to cut your teeth, but a small production company might suit your personality better, and that’s okay! If you’ve been working for several years, think about the expertise and perspective you can offer a future employer and focus on pitching yourself as the accomplished professional you are. Having a successful entertainment career isn’t a futile task where you keep falling back down to the mailroom. Instead, it’s knowing who you are, what you bring to the table, and how to communicate that to your colleagues, network, and potential employers.
I resolve to stand up for myself. There’s plenty of workplace abuse in Hollywood, but in recent years, the culture is shifting to tolerate it less. We’re by no means clear of toxic environments yet, but it’s no longer true that you have to grin and bear it or suffer your reputation being destroyed. Enough is enough. If you are working for a boss who harasses or berates you, or for a production that doesn’t prioritize your safety, or for a company that grossly underpays you, or in an environment that’s demeaning, or find yourself in any situation where you think, “I can’t wait for Deadline to break this story of abuse,” you do not have to stay. You can always find another job, but you do not get another life. Even if your situation is not dire, but it’s simply not serving you anymore (e.g. you’re not growing, you’re bored, you’re burned out), you don’t owe it to anyone to stick it out. You don’t have to quit immediately (unless you are really in danger), but you do owe it to yourself and the people who care about you to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional health.
I resolve to ask for help and pay it forward. Sure, our business is competitive. But it’s also collaborative. In fact, that’s one of the top attributes our clients call out as the reason they enjoy working in entertainment: working with other passionate people to create something together. This sense of collaboration extends beyond the set, beyond the development meetings, beyond the notes calls. As you grow your career, find your collaborators – the people who you can lean on and the ones who can count on you. Ask for help when you need it, whether it’s for a job, or an introduction, or a script to read, or an email address your boss needs. And offer it in return, not just to your closest allies, but to anyone who’s passionate enough to ask and professional enough to respect your boundaries. It will benefit you and the industry as a whole!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Your LinkedIn profile, like your resume, isn't one-size-fits all. What your profile looks like will be different depending on where you are in your career and what your goals are for the platform. Sometimes you may even need to get across multiple things at once, like continuing to grow in your current job while simultaneously putting out feelers for a new one. Here are some different scenarios we’ve encountered and how to deal with them. Choose the ones that feel most like you, and read on!
Scenario 1: You are looking for a new job.
LinkedIn is a great tool for job seekers, both because it offers tons of job postings (with an effective algorithm for personalizing recommendations) and because you can use it to actively cultivate your network. To make your LinkedIn job search most effective, your profile will need to appeal to recruiters and hiring managers, and it'll need to use strong keywords if you're applying for jobs through the platform. One thing you need to do is make sure you are getting across your passion for the types of jobs you are excited about. If you are a branded content producer trying to stay in branded content, this should be pretty easy – tell the story of what you do, list your accomplishments, and state your passion for the job.
But if you’re looking for a switch, you may be trying to cater to multiple sets of eyeballs. In some cases, you can simply write in your headline or summary that you are looking for a transition and eager to meet people in that line of work. But sometimes it gets trickier. For example, we work with many clients who are trying to transition into a new side of the industry, or into a new industry altogether, but don’t want their current employers or clients to find out. This is completely understandable, but it means you'll have to be a bit more strategic about how you'll catch the attention of hiring managers and contacts in the new field. If possible, try to include some interests that cross reference the new type of role in your summary. You can also make sure you are highlighting the most transferable skills in your current job.
If you’re afraid that your experience will be too confusing to the hiring manager, you could also take a more bare-bones approach with your profile and not give too many details in each section. You can also try to highlight things that make you unique – volunteer work or major accomplishments that may or may not have to do as much with your work history. Make sure to include relevant skills in the skills section, so you'll be considered a "match" for open roles. Your current employer isn't going to balk (or likely notice) if you list skills that aren't important to your current role, but a potential future employer will take these skills into account when reviewing your profile.
Scenario 2: You are trying to grow in your current job/career path.
If this is the case for you, your goal for your LinkedIn profile should be to try to build your network and make a name for yourself in your field. As far as the sections of your profile go, think about who you work with and what they’d probably want to know about you (often things that you talk about in general meetings or over networking drinks). You probably have a pretty good sense of the skills that are most relevant to your job, and you should highlight projects that you’re proud of or are notable, including links to your work, if applicable. In addition, you can spend time establishing yourself as more of a thought leader in the field by sharing relevant articles or headlines, or even blogging through the platform. You should also highlight speaking engagements or exciting opportunities you’ve been able to take part in. Lean into your voice and POV, and follow and actively engage with peers and companies you care about. The more visibility you get, the more connections you’ll make, and as we all know, success in Hollywood is all about your network.
Scenario 3: You work in two different sides of the industry (or two industries) and are seeking jobs in both areas.
This is a common scenario we see among our clients. The best advice we have here is that you need to be honest about your career trajectory! There's nothing wrong with having strong skillsets in multiple areas -- in fact, it can make you a huge asset to a company. Instead of worrying, think about what your unique perspective and expertise can offer a potential employer. LinkedIn is a great place for you to expound on your capabilities beyond your resume, so you can use your profile to showcase all the ways your dual paths inform your expertise.
That said, if you’re leaning more toward one side of your expertise than the other for your next role (think: one is more of a backup plan), try to place more emphasis on it in your summary and showcase the skills you use for that role the most. Secondarily, you would highlight how your other work supports your primary goal. Be honest with yourself about how open you are to the backup path, and make sure your profile serves your real goals.
Scenario 4: You own a business and are trying to sell your services OR you are a freelancer looking for new clients.
Many people use their LinkedIn profiles to generate new business – at Hollywood Resumes, we sure do (feel free to follow us there)! But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Your personal profile -- as opposed to your business page -- is about you and why you do the work you do. Explain what you do, why you’re passionate about your work, how you got your expertise, and what informs your approach to customers or clients. Keep a conversational tone, and encourage others to connect. You can share samples of your work through the platform as well, but save the more sales-y copy for your website. Just remember your audience; LinkedIn is about people trying to connect with people, and you want to make yourself seems like an approachable human that people will want to partner with.
Scenario 5: You are an artist/creator open to creative opportunities.
Similar to those who are trying to grow in their current career paths, artists will want to tell the story of what they do and why they are passionate about it on their LinkedIn profiles. It’s a great idea to showcase your most recent projects (or all your projects), and if you work in a visual medium, feel free to link to clips of your work. But one other thing to keep in mind is that those hiring artists (especially writers and directors) are looking for someone who has a unique POV and creative vision. Authenticity is also a big consideration when looking for creatives. So make sure you get across who you are as a person outside of work – what’s your personal backstory; what experiences have shaped the way you think and feel; what are your greatest passions; who has inspired you? The list goes on.
Scenario 6: You are a student or very recent grad entering the workforce.
For students, LinkedIn often isn’t a priority, as you’ve probably been a lot more focused on your coursework and activities rather than thinking about the job search. You don’t need to include tons of information on your LinkedIn profile if you are a student, but it is a good idea to add internships in the experience section and express any personal or professional interests in your summary. We’d recommend using LinkedIn as a way to build your network and start generating connections early on, so when you’re ready to look for a job, you’ll have a nice roster of people that can help you with referrals as you find opportunities that interest you. And you can also use LinkedIn as a research tool to identify career paths or companies of interest. As you grow in your professional career, you may want to lose some of your student work, so be sure to revisit your profile after you've held a few roles post-graduation.
Scenario 7: You have a limited work history and are trying to re-enter the workforce.
We frequently work with clients who have significant gaps on their resume and want to go back to work – often these are moms whose kids are finally old enough for them to go back to work, or people who have other life circumstances that prevented them from working full-time. That's okay! You're allowed to be human. Once again, the best rule of thumb here is to be honest! LinkedIn is the perfect place to explain your personal situation in your own words; in fact, it’s much easier to get this information across here than it is on your resume. This is also your chance to explain why you want to get back into the workforce and what experiences you’ve had in your life that will bring a unique perspective to your work. We find that nontraditional candidates are often the most hireable because of how much passion, grit, and drive they bring to the workforce. If this sounds like you, own your story!
No matter what your unique situation is, the most important thing to remember is that LinkedIn is a social networking tool, and you can use it to get new clients, build your reputation, find work, or anything else you can think of. Craft your sections in a way that encourages people to want to connect with you or follow you, and if you have time, curate content on your feed that will keep these people engaged with you!
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan
The holiday season is upon us (Happy Chanukah!), which means that between all the celebrations, gift giving, and good cheer, you have the perfect opportunity to check back in with your contacts. But how exactly should you go about doing that?
First, make a list. Check it twice. It should include all your contacts, from the external contacts you interact with regularly through work to the person you met for an informational interview months ago to the person you chatted with at a virtual mixer. Include notes about each person, like how you know them or how they might be connected to your dream company. It's best if you create this list over time and continually update it, but if you haven't started one, now is a good time!
Next, figure out how to reach out. If you have the bandwidth, you can email everyone on your list, but it's also totally okay if you triage it -- and when you do, you may decide that different people get a different form of outreach, or you may remove people from your list altogether. Some people opt to send a newsletter recapping their year, but we don't recommend this as a way to build strong connections. A mass email is a more effective strategy if you're sending out a note on behalf of your whole team, if you already regularly send out newsletters, or if you have a major project or life announcement. If you go this route, make sure you have permission to email your contacts in that manner, expect a decent number of "unsubscribes," and don't anticipate many notes back. Think of this more as a targeted social media post, and consider sharing your update on LinkedIn instead.
Another option is to send handwritten cards. Most people opt to do this for personal contacts but there may be some people on your list who fall in between personal and professional. This method is more about well-wishes than establishing a rapport, so don't expect this to spark a conversation with a contact you haven't chatted with in a while. But it is a nice gesture.
If you're looking for a more in-depth exchange, or even just open up communication channels, a personalized email is best. You want to keep this short and sweet. After the season's greetings, you can let them know what you're up to in 1-2 sentences, as candidly as your relationship allows (e.g. "I'm still looking to transition to a full-time role in development" or "I plan to start looking for a new role in 2022 and am hoping to land at a streaming service in the production department" or "Since we last spoke pre-pandemic, I wrapped production on the latest season of X and am gearing up for my next show in late January!"), and ask how things are going for them. You can also ask if they'd like to catch up in the new year, as long as you make sure not to overcommit yourself. Draft a new message for each contact and note the outreach on your handy-dandy list so that you're set up to track your network in 2022.
You don't have to email everyone all at once, either. Make a schedule for yourself (again, based on how you prioritize your list!) and start sending notes as early as the week leading up to Christmas break and as late as the first week back at work (that said, if you are hoping for a response, avoid sending your note the Friday before Christmas break). You may not get a response from every contact, but if you're genuine, polite, and professional, you'll get back on the radar and keep your network up to date.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan