Using adjectives on a resume can be tricky. It might sound nice to describe yourself or your skills as "outstanding," but in reality, vague terms like this are unhelpful to hiring managers because they fail to demonstrate any kind of actual achievement. On the other hand, certain descriptors can be very useful when used appropriately. But how do you know whether an adjective is advantageous or overkill? Let's break it down.
The biggest thing to remember when including descriptors in your resume is that they must be relevant and concrete. If you write something like "read scripts and provided excellent notes," your resume will be met with an eye roll. Who decided that these notes were excellent? It's a totally generic statement that you have no way of proving to be true. There's nothing wrong with simply writing "provided notes." By losing the word "excellent," your bullet point becomes shorter and easier to read. You can always elaborate further during an interview or show how excellent your skills really are by sending sample coverage when it's requested.
However, leaving out meaningless adjectives doesn’t mean your resume should be bland and generic. So how do you achieve that balance between underselling your achievements and peppering your resume with unprovable and subjective statements?
Identify what was unique or interesting about how you've applied the skills required by the job posting in your previous roles, and spice up your bullet points with adjectives that describe those responsibilities in a distinctive way. In keeping with our script notes example, maybe you gave feedback on a variety of types of material -- you can adapt the bullet to say "read TV and feature scripts and provided detailed notes to executives." Now the hiring manager knows what formats you have experience in and a clearer idea of what these notes looked like and were used for.
This strategy applies across the board. Maybe you've been an assistant that "supported three executives" -- you'd definitely want to specify this number in your bullet point, since it shows you have more experience with multi-tasking and time management than an assistant who only supported one executive. If you're a field producer, maybe you produced a show that was shot in "multiple remote locations" -- a step up from someone who's only worked locally. The common thread with these examples is that the descriptors actually mean something. They follow the age-old adage of "show, don't tell," and in just a word or two, they give the hiring manager useful information that could set your application apart from the others.
As is the case with intangible skills, generic adjectives aren't going to help your resume stand out. But targeted adjectives that explain the scope of your work can give your resume the boost it needs to get you an interview. Just remember to keep those bullet points short, simple, and readable.
If you’ve recently moved to LA and are starting to look for a job, you may be feeling a bit lost. Although there are tons and tons of companies and open positions in the entertainment industry, you probably aren’t seeing too many good job postings if you don’t know where to look. Especially when searching for assistant positions, sites like Indeed.com or even LinkedIn aren’t always the most helpful. Here are six resources that might lead you to something great:
You'll notice that each of these suggestions has something in common: networking. If you want to maximize the number of interviews you’re getting, you’ll need a few allies. The good news is, many people are willing to help! Don’t be shy about reaching out -- it will pay off in the long run, and then you’ll have the opportunity to pay it forward to others trying to break into the industry.
Hooray! You just got a job offer! Your potential employer has decided that you’re the best fit for the role, and now you get to flip the tables on them and decide if they’re right for you. As we’ve said before, you shouldn’t always take the first offer you’re given -- put some careful thought into your decision. Accepting a new job is a big deal and will define your life for the next few years, so you should choose wisely. Here are three things to consider when evaluating whether an opportunity is a good fit:
When you go to a job interview, informational interview, or even a general meeting, you want to make the best impression possible on the person you are meeting. Obviously. But there are two other people that could make or break your chances of ever getting a job at the company -- the receptionist and the assistant. Even though they may not make the ultimate hiring decision, receptionists and assistants wield a lot of power when it comes to evaluating potential new employees. If you are rude or dismissive of the lower level people at the company when going in for a meeting, you can be sure that this information is going to get back to the key decision-makers.
Your relationship with a receptionist or assistant begins at the email phase. They’ll often be the ones working with you to schedule the interview, so make sure to use a friendly-but-professional tone in your emails, say thank you, and proofread, proofread, proofread. An email that's too formal (like greeting the assistant as "Ms. Doe" once she's already signed a note as Jane) or too friendly (opening with "Hey girl!!") is going to produce an eye roll or two, and you can bet that if you're email is riddled with typos, your potential employer will find out that you're not as detail-oriented as you claim to be. You should also try to be flexible when scheduling a meeting -- let the person you are meeting with dictate the time and place. Don’t make it difficult for the person scheduling on the other end. If you do, you’ll have made a bad first impression even before you’ve met.
When you arrive at an office for a meeting, greet the receptionist and assistant with a smiling face. Don't distract them with chit-chat while you're waiting unless they engage you first. However, if they end up walking you to a conference room, it's a good idea to make small talk on the way -- if they don't initiate, you can ask a few innocent questions about their day to ease the awkwardness. And if you see them again after a meeting, be sure to let them know that it was nice to meet them and thank them for setting up the meeting.
When you get home, in addition to the thank you note you send to the person you’ve just met with, send a separate email to the assistant or receptionist to thank them for setting up the meeting. Here’s your chance to lock in that good first impression. Even better, you may have an opportunity to create a new relationship if you’re at the same stage in your career as the assistant. If you felt that you had a good rapport with the person who helped schedule a meeting for her boss, you could ask her if she wants to get drinks one evening and continue to build up your network at that company (NOTE: You should only do this after an informational interview, not after a job interview.).
In Hollywood, every interaction counts. Assistants and receptionists are not likely to forget someone who was disrespectful, and they have the power to stop you from working at or with a company. On the other hand, they are likely to remember the person who was exceptionally friendly and kind to them and might even go out of their way to help when the time is right. So be that person. Very little effort and can yield extremely positive results. And besides, it’s the right thing to do.