"ASK HR" is our monthly advice column where we answer readers' questions about pressing work dilemmas, job search queries, resumes, and navigating Hollywood. If you have a career-related question, email us, and the answer could appear in a future newsletter! All submissions will remain anonymous.
Dear Hollywood Resumes,
I've spent most of my career in representation. However, I recently transitioned to a non-scripted TV show in the story department and am loving it. But as a freelancer, I'm already feeling anxious about landing my next gig, because my resume is loaded with experience that doesn't apply to reality TV. What should I do?
-- What's My Story
Dear What's My Story,
First of all, congratulations on finding a job you love! That's no small feat, and it's exciting to know that you can transition to a new side of the industry and find happiness in it. More good news? That you already made the hardest transition. It's the initial jump from representation to production that's most scary, because you'll have to convince hiring managers that you're capable of doing a totally different job. You did that already! Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.
It sounds like there's a voice in your head buzzing, "What if this is a fluke? What if people see my resume and think I have no direction? How can my short roster of credits compare to other people in my position who've been at it for years?" Let's separate the truth in those questions from the fear and anxiety. Remember: You're already doing the job you want to do, and if you haven't been fired, you're probably doing a good enough job! So no, this is not a fluke. At least it doesn't have to be.
There are a few different options for your resume. First, you can include REALITY PRODUCER or STORY PRODUCER in your headline to convey your direction to employers right off the bat. You may also consider a professional summary -- something along the lines of "Story producer with background in representation. Experience producing non-scripted series for major networks and collaborating with writers to develop feature scripts." Your summary is a great place to make key connections between the transferable skills from your past jobs and your current trajectory. Plus, it's an opportunity to show what sets you apart. You never know when the hiring manager will want the expertise you acquired from working in representation.
Then, lead the experience section with your work at your current show. Hit all the major buzz words from the job posting, or, if you're applying through a vague posting or contact, what you know to be the most important elements of the job. List any significant achievements -- did the season perform particularly well in the ratings? Did you get any additional responsibilities beyond the original scope of your work? How many episodes are you working on, and how many editors are you collaborating with? Are you able to write or pitch any creative? Show the breadth of your current experience while keeping the section to 3-4 bullet points.
When it comes to the rest of your work chronology, give context for your jobs, since people in your current field may be less familiar with representation. Include as many transferable skills you can think of -- collaborating, negotiating, and pitching come to mind. Even though you may have done other things in those roles, keep your bullets short and to the point. Then, think about any other experiences that may be relevant to your current story -- did you ever intern for a reality production company? PA on set? Produce any short films? If those experiences still fit on your resume and weren't ridiculously long ago, they may be worth including.
You'll also want to make sure your skills section lists any technical skills you've picked up in your new job. Are you more comfortable with Avid now that you're creating string-outs? Put it on there!
And lastly, keep in mind that your resume is one tiny piece of your overall job search. Make a good impression on your colleagues now so that you can come recommended for the next show they go to and/or solidify your return for the next season of your current show. It's pretty common for story producers to get hired through prior contacts. And once you have a few credits under your belt, change your resume entirely to a credits list and leave your previous career in representation behind!
-- Angela & Cindy