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 It’s not old school or outdated to create a simple document that’s easy to read; rather, it’s helpful to the hiring manager, who would prefer to scan a familiar document where she can find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