One of our big beliefs at Hollywood Resumes is that people are people first and workers second; your job is important, but most of us want to achieve some level of work/life balance. And that means having interests outside of the office!
Participating in community organizations or volunteering for local non-profits is a popular outside-of-work hobby. Especially now, so many people are coming together to advocate for racial justice or give back to people suffering from COVID. But is it a good idea to include volunteer work on your resume? If so, how should you do it? The answer depends on the nature of the volunteer work.
If you're a leader in a community organization -- say you run a committee or chaired a fundraising event -- you might consider including your volunteer experience alongside your other professional experience. This is especially true for people who volunteered during a professional gap, as it shows how you spent that time. Treat your volunteer experience like any other job in your chronology, with your title, dates, and bullets indicating your skills and achievements. Think about what skills you utilize in your volunteer roles that transfer to the job you're applying for, in the same way you'd evaluate past professional experience.
However, if your leadership experience doesn't translate to the role you're applying for, would push relevant experience down in the chronology, or is more participatory than leadership-driven (i.e. you serve food at a local shelter every weekend), you can simply list the organization in a profile or skills and interests section at the bottom of the page, or, if it's somewhat relevant to the job posting, you can include it at the tail end of your professional summary. On LinkedIn, you can elaborate more about your role or provide some background on the organization and why it's important to you.
Things get a little tricky if the organization you volunteer with could come across as controversial or lead people to make snap judgements about you. This happens primarily with religious or political organizations, as some people may presume that you are so passionate about your faith or political ideology that you'll bring it up daily in the office and create an uncomfortable HR situation. The good news is that more companies are embracing religious and cultural diversity and leaning into political and social advocacy, so in some cases, it might be a bonus -- it really depends on the company culture. You'll have to evaluate this on a case-by-case basis by considering what you know about the company and the team, how relevant the skills you derived from your volunteer experience are, and how important it is that your employers embrace your extracurricular activities. There's no hard and fast rule, so you may find yourself adding the information or removing it depending on the job you're applying for.
As with everything that goes in your application materials, evaluate how volunteer work contributes to the story you're trying to tell a future employer. If you always go back to your story, you'll know what's relevant to include and what can be left off.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
As you may know, layoffs happen all the time in entertainment. Even before this Coronavirus mess, Hollywood has been going through a transitional period as companies try to accommodate shifting viewership patterns. But getting laid off is a weird feeling – even if your position was eliminated because of a re-org or something else completely outside of your control (who could have ever predicted one of those things would be a global pandemic?), you still might start to question yourself and whether you were the problem. Why did you get laid off over someone else? But don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s normal for those thoughts to creep into your mind, but they aren’t going to help you get to the next phase of your career. Instead, you’ve got to stay positive and view this layoff event as an opportunity.
Your immediate reaction to a layoff might be extreme anger and sadness, or it may be joy and relief, depending on how you were feeling about your job and your personal financial situation. But even if you are on the anger end of the spectrum, there is always a bright side to a layoff.
Layoffs often happen because the company isn’t doing well. Do you want to be part of a company that’s failing? Of course not! Look at this as an opportunity to find something better, at a company with a more secure future. If the layoffs were the result of a merger, the people who were left behind are about to face a really tough transitional period, usually where they have to take on extra work, reorganize their teams and work cohorts, and adjust to new bosses and protocols. When you get laid off, you avoid all that stress. If you’re lucky enough to get severance, you may even be able to spend time taking care of your own personal needs – do more yoga, hang out with your kids, get a dog, whatever makes you happy. Think of it as an extended vacation! And if you don’t get severance, that’s okay – you can put all your focus into finding a job that makes you happy at a company you are excited to work for.
A layoff gives you an opportunity to reassess your career goals and make changes that you may not have otherwise considered. Maybe you were miserable at your job but couldn’t quit for financial reasons. And while it might suck to go on unemployment for a couple of months, you now have no choice but to find something better. You can put those 40+ hours a week you spent working toward finding something new. Think about what you liked about your previous job and what you’d never want to deal with again, and let that dictate your job search. Research various positions and think carefully about whether you want to continue on the same track you were on. It’s okay to change your mind – if you want to switch roles or even industries, now’s the time!
Another interesting thing that happens after a layoff is that people come out of the woodwork to help you. Let people know about your situation, and you’ll be amazed at all the kind words that come your way. Embrace the fact that people want to help you. Let everyone know what you’re looking for next, and rekindle relationships with contacts that you haven’t caught up with in a while. The outpouring of love and support you’ll feel will inevitably make you feel good about yourself and your work, but it also may lead to new opportunities.
That's not to say you can't, won't, or shouldn't feel any bitterness at all -- even if you're happy about your new trajectory, there's still a sting that comes with the change. You are 100% entitled to have whatever feeling that comes to you about your old company. But you must be careful how you address it in an interview. You don’t need to lie and say that everything was wonderful, but try to keep the conversation positive and focused on the future as much as possible instead of giving into the temptation to gossip. It’s an easy trap to fall into, so you have to be extra mindful about how you’re speaking about your former employer.
Ultimately, what happens after your layoff depends on how you handle yourself, and it all comes down to how you frame the situation mentally. If a layoff is something that you’ve gone through recently, we say CONGRATULATIONS! Look at this as an opportunity, not a setback. You’re in control of what’s next, and we’re sure whatever that is going to be great!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Adulting means you need a job! We were thrilled to offer advice to emerging professionals -- check out the guest blog we wrote for Adulting with Jane for 5 tips for writing a great resume and hear us recount some resume dos and don'ts on the How Did I Get This Far? poducast
Congratulations, 2020 graduates! Though your ceremonies may not be traditional, and the future feels uncertain, you deserve to relish in the fact that you completed a major milestone in your education. But we know that beneath the pride, there's anxiety about what's next. You're entering the job market in an unprecedented global pandemic, there's an economic downturn, and the media is forecasting only very bleak news. What's there to celebrate? What should you do? How do you navigate a world in which the rules you prepared for have suddenly changed?
Our advice this week will be more personal than usual, because we can relate. We both graduated from college into The Great Recession -- Cindy in 2008 and Angela in 2009. We'd entered college with one expectation for how to find a job after graduation and were faced with an entirely different reality when we were ready to enter the workforce. Neither of us had connections in the entertainment industry, and the competition was more fierce than usual. We each took a different approach; Cindy spent a year interning while living at home in New York and interned/PA'ed again after moving to LA, while Angela enrolled in grad school at USC and completed internships as part of her degree. Meanwhile, our peers took a multitude of different paths, depending on their connections, financial resources, and previous work experience. We all had to navigate a new economic landscape. But over a decade later, we've learned the most crucial lesson: No matter what path you need to take now, you will be okay.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to figuring out what to do next. You might have the economic freedom to hold out for the perfect first job, or you might have to take the first job you can get. You may not be able to move to LA immediately like you'd planned. That's okay. Don't compare yourself to other people who may have what looks like an easier time than you do. Don't worry that you'll never catch up. You can't control those external factors, so your time will be better spent focusing on the things you can control, like honing your skills, assessing what your true goals are, and building a job search strategy that meets your specific needs.
Trust that everything will work out in the end, as long as you continue to self-assess and consider what you truly want for yourself. Keep in mind that while transitioning into an unfamiliar role can be hard, it's completely doable! And remember that you'll always have a shorthand to explain to future employers why the beginning of your career may not be standard. In fact, your resilience as a 2020 graduate will make you an asset -- you're currently learning critical life and job skills, like creative problem-solving, adapting to new technological realities, and pivoting to find new solutions.
It can be hard to swallow optimism in the face of trying times, but trust us: You will find success on the other side of this. That's not a platitude; it's our truth.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan