The bulk of your resume is the chronology of your work history, which makes it seem like the document is about where you’ve been and what you’ve done. A document about the past. But that’s actually not the case at all!
A great resume tells the story of your future -- the story of why you’re well-suited for the role you’re applying for. Too many candidates make the mistake of simply recapping the responsibilities of their most recent jobs instead of identifying the skills that will actually be most useful in their next job.
This is especially important to keep in mind when you’re making a career transition, be it from one industry to another, from one side of the industry to another, or up a rung on the corporate ladder. You’ll need to make it clear to recruiters that you can handle the job they’re hiring for. If you’ve been an assistant for two years and are now looking to be a coordinator, your bullets should focus more on higher-level tasks, like tracking projects and giving script notes, and less on things like phones and calendars -- even though the majority of your current job is administrative.
Sometimes, there’s no easy way to position your specific bullet points in a clear way that showcases how ready and capable you are for the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re moving from a job as a lawyer to a job as a Hollywood assistant, you’ll have to highlight that you’re open to lower-level tasks. You don’t want an agent to worry that you’ll be bored going from arguing a case in court to answering a less educated person’s phones all day! But no one is going to take you seriously if you remove the basic aspects of your job in favor of the clerical work that you probably passed off to a paralegal. In that scenario -- and there are many similar situations -- you’ll benefit greatly from a professional summary. Before diving into your work history, write a short blurb summarizing your key strengths and capabilities (tangible skills only!). This will help frame your candidacy and add needed context to your resume.
Just remember that the primary purpose of a resume is to prove you can do the job listed in the job description. The more you can focus on reflecting the job posting in your resume and showcasing that you have the qualifications to succeed in the role, the better.
We’re often asked how to list part-time jobs on a resume. Job seekers express fear that by not acknowledging the part-time nature of their job, they’ll be lying on their resume, but that if they do acknowledge it, they’ll undermine their experience. So what’s the best solution?
It actually depends on the specifics of the job. If you work full-time but have a part-time side hustle, you may not need to list it at all. Assess whether the side hustle is relevant to your overall story and if it adds needed skills that will make you a better candidate for the job. If not, no need to list it. Your resume isn’t a biography, it’s more of a highlight reel. If the side hustle is relevant, you definitely should list it. If it’s clear from the nature of the job that it’s part-time -- like freelancing or script reading -- then you don’t need to qualify it. A hiring manager will see your primary job during the same period and make the assumption that the other position is part-time.
If you work two or more part-time jobs at the same time and plan to list both, it may be beneficial for you to include "(part-time)" next to your title. We see this a lot with personal assistants who manage two different clients, and it’s certainly worth clarifying to a future employer that you aren’t spreading yourself thin, but rather have been hired in a part-time capacity. However, just as is the case with a side hustle, if it's obvious that both of your jobs are part time -- like simultaneous internships -- a hiring manager will safely assume that each is part-time without you calling it out.
Lastly, if you are currently working only one part-time job, there’s no reason to draw attention to it on your resume. You may choose to acknowledge it in your cover letter as you explain why you’re looking to transition to full-time, add a second part-time position, or find a new part-time job, but there’s no rule that says you need to list part-time on yourresume. If you have the skills and are capable of doing the job you’re applying for, that’s all that matters.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
It's time for another "Industry Spotlight," our monthly series where we interview professionals from across the entertainment industry about their current jobs and career trajectories. Our hope is that you will learn more about the positions you're already interested in, discover new roles you may not have considered, and utilize the wisdom of those who've paved the way before you to forge your own path for success.
This month, we sat down with Greg Morrison, Supervising Producer of Content and Development at Nitro Circus.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: In one sentence, how would you define your job?
GREG: Part creative, part problem solver, part firefighter, part babysitter.
HR: What is your day-to-day like?
GREG: My day consists of many different things that keep it moving at a breakneck speed. Throughout any given day, I’ll have in-person meetings to discuss ongoing productions. This will consist of gathering and dispensing updates from our production, post production, and legal teams and deciding upon next steps. There are also meetings to discuss ongoing and future development projects/ideas with our team in the office and pitches for these development ideas with network executives at their offices. When I finally have a moment to sit down in front of my laptop, it’s time to write. Before anything gets pitched to a network or gets produced by one of our teams, I write it and re-write it. That includes writing and producing the sizzle reels that we use to pitch our shows. I work closely with our post production team to make sure that these sizzle reels are sales-ready. Also, I eat lunch. I never skip lunch. No one likes me when I’m hangry.
HR: What do you like most about your job?
GREG: What I like most about my job is finding creative and fun ways to tell stories. At the end of the day, all good content comes down to telling a good story.
HR: How did you get your current job?
GREG: I spent eight years freelancing as a producer all over Los Angeles, and through a former boss, I was recommended to Nitro Circus to be the Supervising Producer of their first History Channel special. It was a match made in heaven, and we all loved working together. We loved it so much that they offered me full-time employment heading up their development department and overseeing current productions.
HR: What was your first job in Hollywood?
GREG: My first entertainment industry job was a 4-week gig as a research assistant at LMNO Productions. I spent my days creating binders full of research for their development and production executives.
HR: What are the skills someone would need to succeed in your position?
GREG: Quick thinking, a lot of energy, a positive attitude, patience (of which I don’t have enough), and confidence.
HR: If you don't like _____________, you won't like my job.
GREG: Problem solving.
HR: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
GREG: Rushing. I was rushing to bring a hard drive to my boss, but in trying to move too fast, I unplugged the wrong drive and corrupted the entire project. It took 48 hours to get everything back up and running and put us two days behind schedule. No matter how quickly something needs to be done, there’s always an extra few seconds to stop, breathe, and make sure you don’t unplug the wrong thing, press the wrong button, send the wrong email, or say the wrong thing to the wrong person.
HR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break in/move up in the industry, what would it be?
GREG: Make friends everywhere you work. It will be your connections with the people you work with that ensure you always find your next job and that you get that promotion over someone else with the same qualifications.
HR: Thanks, Greg!
Think hiring managers are just looking at the materials you submit in your job applications? Think again. Once a hiring manager decides your resume and cover letter are up to snuff, they’ll continue to check you out to make sure you’re a good fit for the role. Whether this happens before they set the interview or after they’ve narrowed their choices down to a handful of candidates, they are going to Google you. Same goes for writers/producers/directors taking general meetings for potential employment down the line. It should go without saying that you should be mindful of your social media presence. We’ve talked about the role of social media in the job search, but you should also check to see what else the search engines have on you on a regular basis.
Ideally, information that shows up online won't contradict anything you've sent to the employer. Does your current or previous employer’s website still list you as an employee? If so, make sure the job title online matches the one you use on your resume. Do any YouTube videos you uploaded in college come up? You may not want employers looking at your student films and judging your taste level and skill from your early work. It may not be possible to alter your digital footprint too much, but if you know what potential employers see, you can think about ways to get ahead of it. And, if some really good things come up -- like the charity event you organized or your festival-worthy Vimeo short -- you can find ways to amplify those successes as well.
The key is not to overthink anything you might find online, but to be aware of what’s there. Look at yourself through the eyes of the hiring manager and understand that your online presence is a part of the fuller picture of your candidacy.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan