For many job applicants, there's nothing scarier than a resume gap, especially if it's right at the top of your resume, showing the world of hiring managers that you've been unemployed for a long time. The fears run deep: Why should a hiring manager take a chance on you when no one else has? How will you convince a hiring manager you haven't just been lazing about for the last year watching Netflix? How will you hold back tears in a job interview when describing the often very emotional reason for a long gap (everything from the the depression of getting let go to having to take extended time off for a family emergency or needing a travel break for your own mental healing)?
Typically, we recommend that clients get crafty with the way they are presenting dates on their timeline (like using years instead of months) or use other activities to help fill the gaps (coursework, side jobs). But for gaps in 2020, all the rules are out the window, and you have nothing to be afraid of!
So many people were unemployed this year that no hiring manager is going to question a resume gap in 2020 (and yes, this is true even if you weren’t working for the first two months of the year). That said, if you were doing things to further your professional development, like taking online classes, creating your own content, volunteering, or doing freelance gigs, there’s nothing wrong with including that info on your resume, as long as it’s easy to explain. Those things can also make a good conversation starter in an interview.
But what about small side gigs like shopping for Instacart or delivering for DoorDash that you may have taken to help pay the bills? Do those belong on your resume? There's certainly no shame in finding ways to pay the bills, but unless you're applying for a job where that experience is relevant (for example, an Instacart job would be very applicable for a role as a personal assistant or one where you would be shopping and driving, but it won’t help you much otherwise), you should leave it off your resume. It’s better to have 2020 unaccounted for in order to keep your most recent entertainment experience at the top of your resume. The gap will barely be noticeable.
It’s likely that for many job seekers, the resume gap will continue well into 2021. But don’t stress, as this gap is not going to prevent you from getting interviews. Just remember that you are still the same talented person that you were in 2019, and on top of that, 2020 has made you even more resilient!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
To help meet our clients' needs, Hollywood Resumes is now offering career coaching services! We offer three types of coaching services:
1. Career Coaching Sessions -- These hour-long sessions are personalized toward your career goals. During our free 30 minute consultation, we'll come up with a coaching plan for you and recommend the number of sessions we think you'll need to help you achieve your career goals.
2. Interview Coaching Sessions -- In these hour-long sessions, we'll conduct a virtual mock interview. Beforehand, we'll send you a packet of instructions to help you prepare, and then we'll conduct a 30- minute interview as if we were the employer, followed by 30 minutes of feedback and practice.
3. Assistant Coaching Program -- This four-session program is designed for entry-level employees and applicants seeking to build their assistant skills, including phones, scheduling, tracking projects, story evaluation, and navigating the Hollywood hierarchy. We'll customize this program depending on your career goals and background.
So, why have we started this service?
As much as we enjoy helping our clients craft their resumes and cover letters, we know that strong application materials aren't always enough to get you hired. You also need a clear vision of the type of role you're looking for, an understanding of how your skills make you qualified for those roles, and a job search strategy that will get your resume into the right hands. Looking for a job can be scary and lonely in the best of times, and with the new anxieties brought on by COVID and the 2021 economy, those feelings are compounded. But a career coach can help you get out of your own way, give you tools to create an effective job search, and help hold you accountable. A career coach is someone who can listen to your frustrations with the job search and design a program based on proven exercises and strategies to help you unlock your own potential.
Not every job seeker needs to work with a career coach, but there are many reasons why it might be right for you. We've rounded up a few of the most popular:
1. You're not happy with your current job/career path, but you aren't sure what other fields might make sense given your background.
2. You love working in entertainment, but for personal reasons are considering moving to an area that doesn't have a large industry presence, and you aren't sure what types of jobs will interest you or what roles you're qualified for.
3. You're unemployed and want to take this opportunity to discover if the career path you're on is the one you want to stay on, or if there are other jobs that might have more hiring/growth potential.
4. You know what job you want, but you're not sure how to conduct your job search or haven't had luck in your current job search.
5. You know what job you want, but you aren't sure you're qualified for it, and you don't know what steps to take to build your qualifications.
6. You like your job but have stopped growing in it, and you aren't sure how to take the next step toward growth, either internally or externally.
If any of these sound like you, you may want to consider our personalized coaching service, which includes a free 30-minute consultation call. Most importantly, know that you are not alone in your job search, and you won't be stuck in career limbo forever. You got this. And we're excited to help!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
This week is the five year anniversary of Hollywood Resumes! We’re so grateful for all the loyal readers talented clients who have supported us over the years. As we enter our sixth year in business, we’ve taken some time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the past five years. Here are a few trends we’ve noticed.
1. Many job seekers aren’t aware of their value. We’re often told that our consultation calls feel like therapy sessions, because we spend so much time digging into achievements and asking what our clients are most proud of, allowing them the opportunity to articulate their value and describe what they're really looking for in their next jobs. We've been surprised by how many clients don't see how much they bring to the table until we call out a particular achievement as worthwhile. "It's no big deal," or "Do people really care? I was just doing my job!" are common refrains. But it's this information that allows us to highlight the unique skills and biggest strengths of each client -- and back it up with hard evidence in their resume bullet points. These conversations also give our clients a confidence boost -- for many, it's a rare chance to be seen and heard. It’s shocking how many people are applying for jobs below their skill levels, and it’s because they’ve stopped fully believing in themselves. If this is you, consider making a list of accomplishments and use that as the basis for your job search.
2. Most job applicants either oversell or undersell themselves on their resumes. When we get incoming client resumes, we usually either see pages of dense text that no one will ever read, or sparse bullet points that don’t give readers much context about previous positions or highlight relevant achievements. It's our job to find a balance. We talk to our clients to figure out what their unique skills are and understand the full picture of their career trajectories, and then whittle that down based on what’s relevant for the specific roles they’re applying for. You can do this, too -- going back to the point above, you need to fully recognize your accomplishments and realize your value. Then, you have to take the extra step of sharing only the information that the hiring manager needs to see. The result is a clear, concise resume that may not include every little thing you’ve ever done, but it will prove that you’ve got what it takes to do the job you want.
3. Challenging career transitions are extremely common. A significant number of our clientele are people who are transitioning into entertainment from another industry, trying to move into an unfamiliar role across the industry, or trying to leave entertainment for a different sector. And on top of that, they’re trying to do that without having to take a significant pay cut. Many of our clients feel alone in these pursuits, but trust us -- five years of clients has proven otherwise! Here’s more good news: Hiring managers also recognize that not every person has had the perfect career trajectory. Yes, you’ve got to convince someone to take a chance on you. But remember, you have the advantage of a unique career path and a fresh perspective. Highlight it!
4. Non-traditional candidates have some of the most interesting job applications. Many people come to us because their experience doesn’t align perfectly with the jobs they want. They're often nervous that hiring managers won't take them seriously, but we see it differently -- these candidates know what they want and are willing to make risky career moves to pursue their passions. Beyond that, the experiences they may view as a drawback are often what will make them stand out from the crowd. Imagine what a Home Depot worker might know that they could bring to a personal assistant position supporting someone with a big estate. Or what a mom of five could bring to a job as a talent wrangler dealing with difficult celebrities. Or what a branded content producer could bring to a lifestyle network trying to reach a new target audience. It's all about finding the way to spin your story to make the connections for the hiring manager. When you do, you’ll have a much stronger application.
5. The job search takes effort. Our clients are pretty awesome -- we’ve gotten to know some incredible people over the years and heard some fascinating stories. Everyone has something special they bring to the table, and that’s what makes this job so exciting for us. However, there’s one thing our clients share: a commitment to bettering themselves and advancing their careers. Hiring a resume writer is one piece of that -- it’s evidence that our clients are investing in themselves. But passion for the work is really what predicates success -- those clients who have a clear vision for their careers are able to target their job searches and focus their energy on the jobs they really want. And on top of that, their enthusiasm sets them apart during interviews. If you want to succeed in this industry, you’ll have to take an active role in your job search.
But the biggest thing we’ve learned over the past five years? We love helping our clients! We’ve worked with so many talented people who we know will make a difference through their work and contribute great art to the world. So we thank you for that, and we look forward to serving you through 2021 and beyond
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
It's 2021...finally! But let's be real. You might be dating important documents differently, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, but the stresses of working in 2020 are still here. We're so used to planning fresh starts at the new year, but that's a lot harder to do when you're not sure what day of the week it is anymore. Should you even bother making resolutions this year?
Yes, but they might look a little different. Here are five career-related resolutions for your job in an uncertain year.
1. I resolve to...know what I can and cannot control.
If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we can't take anything for granted. But that doesn't mean we have no agency -- it simply means we have to know what our limitations are. You can't control the job market -- whether you've been actively looking for work since last March, graduated jobless into a pandemic, or are gritting your teeth working from your kitchen table at a job you can't afford to leave, know it's not your fault that there's very little hiring going on. But that doesn't mean you should kick up your feet and wait until the economy ticks back up. Instead, think about what you can do. If money is tight, is there a part-time or freelance gig you can take on? If you can hang on a little longer, is there professional development you can do, like taking a course or filming a short? Now's the time to get your resume and LinkedIn profile into tip-top shape, to set some professional and lifestyle goals, and to reach out to your network to let folks know you're looking.
2. I resolve to...figure out what work/life balance means to me.
We're not going to be working remotely forever, but for the next few months, it's likely to be the norm. Now's a good time to think about the overall vision you have for your life, at least in the near future. Do you miss the office? Do you love working in your PJs all day? Have you been going to set, terrified of catching COVID but equally terrified of losing your income, or loving that your job gets you out of the house and working with a team? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but life usually gets in the way of us really reflecting on them. Work culture and work/life balance are huge factors in overall job satisfaction, but we usually focus our career trajectories on other things, like whether the company is prestigious, or the salary is competitive, or the title is sexy. But right now, we have a rare opportunity to consider the way our jobs impact the rest of our lives -- think about all that has happened over the past few months and use that information to make a plan for your future.
3. I resolve to...keep my hobbies.
Did you bake sourdough bread in 2020? Take up knitting? Read every Shakespeare play? Do yoga every morning? We invented new ways to entertain ourselves when the world shut down, and some of those things should stick around, even when everything's back open. We always encourage clients to include an "interests" section on their resumes, as it shows hiring managers that they're more than just a robot who can do a job, but rather an interesting human with unique qualities. We've learned about some pretty extraordinary hobbies over the years, like urban dog sledding, airline mileage collecting, and gemology. But most people get deflated when we ask this question during our consult. "What do I do besides watch TV and work?" is a common refrain, uttered by people we know wish they gave themselves permission to explore other interests. Keep giving yourself permission to do the things that you discovered in 2020. Not only because it'll make your resume stand out, but because you'll be happier.
4. I resolve to...stay engaged in civic action.
If a global pandemic wasn't enough for a year, the civic unrest and political engagement in 2020 was historic. So many of us found ways to get involved in our communities in myriad ways, whether through volunteer work, protesting, phone banking, reading/learning, or even raising awareness on social media. It may be difficult to keep that momentum going when you're back to regular life, but it's not impossible. There are so many reasons it's important to stay engaged in the causes that are near and dear to your heart, whatever they may be. But one you may not have considered is how volunteer work or civic engagement can help your career. Your network grows when your community grows, employers like interviewing well-rounded candidates, and you may be able to get involved in corporate charitable giving or other work-based initiatives that help your cause. Don't think about civic engagement as something you can do when you "have time," because work priorities get in the way. There's always time -- and even a career benefit, if you need an additional reason -- for the things that matter in the world.
5. I resolve to...remember that I'm human, and so are my colleagues and boss.
Hollywood can be a toxic industry, and it's likely that you've worked with or someday will work with people who forget that we're making movies, not curing cancer (or COVID). When this happens, it's okay, vital even, to prioritize your mental health and humanity. You don't have to stay in an abusive environment because "someday the boss will be a strong reference." Similarly, practice outward sensitivity. Many of us have learned to be a little less strict with deadlines this last year after learning that a colleague's relative passed away from COVID, or to be more open-minded about employees who need to take a mental health day here or there. We've seen inside one another's homes on Zoom calls, we've learned about our coworkers' toddlers' potty training schedules, and we've seen our boss accidentally turn his camera on when he's wearing loungewear. This vulnerability is going to change the workplace in ways we don't fully understand yet. One potential upside is that we'll remember that the people we work with are people. Sure, some of them might be toxic or irresponsible. But most of our colleagues are just people who are doing the best they can to manage their work and home lives. Let's have 2021 be the year we embrace workplace empathy.
Whatever your resolution, we wish you health, happiness, and success in 2021!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan