We’re often asked about resume formats -- if there’s a cool, fancy one that everyone’s using these days, if graphics are necessary, and if there’s a standard format we use across all our clients. The short answer is: No. The longer answer is that while a good resume format is essential, it's only the first step in creating a resume that will get you the job.
Just like people, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Are you articulating the proper skills? Calling attention to the biggest highlights in your career? Telling your story as clearly as possible? You should pick a resume format that will convey your skills the right way for the job you want and the story you’re trying to tell. That might mean putting education first, or using a sidebar to include extracurricular achievements -- or it might mean skewing more traditionally so you can fit more on the page. But no matter what, you should let the content guide the format -- not the other way around.
Anyone can pull a cool format off the internet and fit their work history into it. Word even comes preloaded with a few formats that you can plug your info into. As long as your format meets the following criteria -- easy-to-read, fits on one page (unless you're an executive who needs a CV), doesn't include excess colors/graphics, highlights your contact information, past companies, positions, and dates -- it'll be pretty and function just fine. But if you want it to be great, think about the story you're trying to tell, and choose a format that will help you get there.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
"Industry Spotlight" is 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 Hannah Bergstrom, an Associate Producer on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: What is your job and how would describe it one sentence?
HANNAH: As Associate Producer on Fresh Off the Boat, I am responsible for leading our Post Production department through episode prep, shoot, editing, finishing, and delivery.
HR: What is your day-to-day like?
HANNAH: Every day is a little different but I could be prepping episodes with our showrunners and production team, overseeing VFX on set, cutting with the editors in post, giving notes to our colorist, working on the sound design at a mix, or watching episodes that are ready to be delivered for air. We work on multiple episodes at a time, so each day has a few episodes that need something.
HR: What do you like most about your job?
HANNAH: I love that I get to lead a team of artists and create a show that uses comedy to talk about topics like race, immigration, coming out, or simply just being that awkward kid.
HR: How did you get your current job?
HANNAH: I met my boss through a friend I made at a Women in Post brunch group. I’m so grateful that I said yes to that brunch!
HR: What was your first job in Hollywood?
HANNAH: I was a runner for Tony and Ridley Scott’s company Scott Free. I was so lucky to be around Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, and their team. I got to know LA very well by doing runs all over the city, and my connections at Scott Free helped me land my first post production job as a Post PA on Community.
HR: Describe the kind of person who would do well in your position -- what skills would they need?
HANNAH: Someone who is able to juggle being pulled in multiple directions and who has a strong creative and technical background to support their work will do well. A sense of humor also helps make the busy days fly by.
HR: If you don't like ____________, you won't like my job.
HANNAH: Watching an episode over and over again.
HR: What’s something you do in your job that an outsider wouldn’t expect (and maybe you didn’t expect before you took the job!)?
HANNAH: I didn’t expect that Fresh Off the Boat would have as many visual effects shots as it does. In our fantasy sequences, we get to have a lot of fun with VFX. Last year I got to produce a whole video game world based off the Sims video game, and the year before that we got to produce an entirely animated comic book style scene. We’re working on prepping for Season 6 now, and I can’t wait to start working on VFX shots for it.
HR: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
HANNAH: I made the mistake of parking in Tony Scott’s parking spot on one of my first days!
HR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break in/move up in the industry, what would it be?
HANNAH: I always tell people who are trying to break in or move up in the industry to use their position to their advantage. You are new to the job, so you should be curious about the job and curious about everyone around you. Ask good questions at the right time and people will remember you. Make yourself known as being a person that’s helpful, curious, and kind. That will take you very far. Make sure that you are delivering value on a daily basis, and that will make you invaluable.
HR: Thanks, Hannah!
You finally get an interview at your dream company, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- a way out of a job that’s run its course. And then the interviewer asks you the one question you’ve been dreading: “What do you love most about your current job?”
How can you answer this? If you loved your job, you probably wouldn’t want to leave, right? Even in the best case scenario, where you like your job and are just ready for your next step, it’s hard to explain why you love your current job while communicating that you’re even more excited about the potential opportunity.
The trick is to pick an aspect of your current job that will serve you well in the new role. Think about what drew you to apply for the job at hand and which of your skills will make you an asset to the team. For example, if you’re an assistant at an agency applying for a coordinator job at a production company, instead of thinking about how much you hate your type A boss and the bro culture of the agency, describe how much you love reading clients’ materials, writing coverage, and tracking the industry. That will demonstrate you’re able to do the job and will enjoy coming to work every day.
Remember that the purpose of the interviewer asking this question is to see whether you’d be happy on the team -- and it’s an opportunity for you to suss out the same thing. In the above example, let’s say the interviewer responds by saying that the coordinator role is less about development and more about supporting current shows and securing resources for physical production. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can express that you’re excited about the opportunity to learn more about that part of the process and see if you can thread in an additional related skill you acquired at the agency that will help you succeed.
But if you learn that a role isn't want you'd hoped for during an interview, it’s okay to express how you feel about it. Continue making a good impression during the rest of the interview. You may decide that the position isn't for you (and the hiring manager might agree), but when the right position pops up at the company, the interviewer might give you a recommendation. After all, you should be looking for a job that you love, one you can easily talk passionately about once you’re in the role.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
You’re settling into your summer internship...ah! The glorious life of working for free or minimum wage so you can learn the ropes of the industry, build your resume, and eventually land a full-time job. Whether you’re currently in school and want to line something up for when you graduate or you’ve just graduated and are seeking more experience while you look for your big break, the not-so-hidden goal for your internship should be to secure a full-time, paid opportunity when you’re ready. The thing is, it’s not a guarantee. No one’s going to hand you an employment contract on your last day just for being you!
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to up your chances. First and foremost, you have to excel at your job. Most internships are kind of boring, and you might think it’s not actually a big deal if you’re slow getting coffee, if you staple papers a little off-kilter, or if the expense reports you file are a little bit out of order. But it is a big deal -- not because the company will go under if the boss gets pricked by a rogue staple prong, but because your internship is all about proving yourself and your ability to take direction. If you can handle the little tasks, maybe your supervisor will trust you with a bigger task -- but if you drop the ball on something simple, no one will trust you with higher level responsibilities.
The other key is to make it clear you’re excited to be at your internship. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the company, its culture, and the different roles you might grow into either there or somewhere similar. Offer to help out on extra projects when you have some down time to showcase your investment in the company's success. The more you’re proactive about engaging with your team, the more credibility you’ll gain as someone they want to work with or help. Just keep in mind that there’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and being a pest -- don’t bother your supervisor with non-task related questions when she’s hunkered down trying to meet a deadline.
Toward the end of your internship, make your goals clear to your supervisors. If you’re really passionate about the company and you’ve developed a good relationship with your supervisor, it’s okay to ask if there’s an entry-level position opening up any time soon -- and they might even bring the opportunity up! If you don’t necessarily see yourself at that specific company (or in the industry at all), communicate your ultimate career goals to your supervisor and see if she can introduce you to contacts at other companies for an informational interview.
You probably won’t get a job offer on the last day -- and you may not even get one at the same company you interned for. But there's still hope for a full-time job! If you've put in your time wisely and built relationships with the people around you, all you need to do is stay in touch. Reach out every so often to touch base, whether or not you need anything specific. If you start getting lukewarm responses, you can ease up, but usually, if you developed a good relationship, your supervisors will be happy to hear from you. When you see a job posting you’re interested in, let your contacts know you’re applying -- they might be able to put in a good word, and at the very least, they’ll be grateful for the heads up about a reference check.
The biggest thing to remember is that you’re not entitled to anything at your internship except an opportunity. It’s up to you to make the most of that opportunity, and if you do, you’ll be set up for something bigger, no matter what it turns out to be.