Most of the time, college career counselors and other resume writers don’t specialize in entertainment and/or haven’t worked in the industry. While they might have a useful resume format for you to work off and some tips for creating strong bullet points, there are a few things they might not know to tell you. Three examples you should be aware of as you create your resume:
1. Only include relevant information.
When crafting your resume, your goal should be to minimize the number of words on the page. Think carefully about what hiring managers actually want and need to see. First of all, no one cares about your GPA, and you should only include scholarships and awards that are widely known as prestigious or are specifically related to the industry. Remember that priorities within academia -- meaning the things that have been your top priorities for most of your life -- are not the same as those in the working world. Instead, experience is what counts; if you have industry internships, these should be the central focus of your resume because the skills you learned there will be the most relevant information for a hiring manager. If you have enough internship experience to fill up the page, leave all the other stuff off. Otherwise, include any non-industry professional experiences (internships and otherwise) or campus leadership experiences that have transferable skills, and list them in chronological order. You might even include some of your coursework in the education section to show additional knowledge of the industry. Bottom line, remember to be selective as you decide what experience and information to include on your resume. No one expects you to have a robust resume when you're first starting out, so less is more: Relevant = important, unrelated = unnecessary.
2. Don’t overdo it.
When applying for entry-level jobs, you want to demonstrate that you know your place and aren’t expecting to run the company. No one wants to hire people who are too big for their britches, so you have to find a way to show off your most impressive skills and experiences without sounding presumptuous. Listing student film projects on your resume can lead to this trap if you're not careful. If the entire experience section of your resume is organized by film titles and roles like executive producer, director, and writer without context, it will look like you’ve produced a bunch of content no one has ever heard of, and you’re going to sound like a quack. Instead, make it clear that these were all student films. Student film projects provide valuable experience but aren’t necessarily representative of working in the industry, so if you call attention to the fact that you worked on these films within the school setting (you may even want to list them in the education section if you have enough internships in the experience section), you’ll come across as a candidate with reasonable expectations for your first job. Which leads us to our next point . . .
3. Administrative skills matter.
Your first job in the entertainment industry will likely be some sort of assistant position -- executive assistant, writers’ assistant, production assistant, etc. And all of these roles require administrative skills that are far below what you’re capable of. Yes, it’s weird that you have to start your career off as a glorified secretary, but that’s just the way it is. And because of this, you need to remember to include administrative skills on your resume -- rolling calls, managing schedules, booking travel, reconciling expenses, maintaining office organization -- the job posting will list specifically what’s needed, so use it as a guide for what keywords to include on your resume. It can be tempting to brag about how you were the chairperson of your campus's business association, leading meetings, drafting proposals, and managing club members, but it's actually more important to list the administrative and organizational skills you gleaned from that experience. It's counterintuitive, but your resume is about proving you can do the job at hand, not about listing every achievement in your life.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again -- the key to writing a good resume is to describe your skills in the same way the job posting describes the necessary qualifications for the role. But sometimes, it’s important to go above and beyond mere skill-matching and provide tangible results in your resume that show you really are the best at what you do. Especially as you grow in your career, or if you’re applying for jobs that are a little more tech, sales, and/or strategy-based, you'll probably need to show definitive results.
The best approach is to integrate results into your bullet points in a way that contributes to the flow of your resume story. We often see resumes that outline a candidate’s skills and then follow up with a few "results" bullets. To us, this is messy and hard to follow. Take a little bit of time to think about how you can describe what you do and how well you do it in one brief sentence. For example, "managed a development and production pipeline of 50+ projects and delivered six pilots per year" has a nice flow to it and allows you to get the point across in the fewest number of bullets possible.
The other trick with a results-oriented resume is not to overdo it. Not every bullet point needs a number. In fact, the more numbers you throw out, the more a hiring manager’s BS radar will go off -- plus it’ll make your resume more difficult to read. Pick your most impressive numbers and stick with those. If you raised a ton of money or saved a ton of money for the company, you'd definitely want to share those numbers. Think about what quantifiable information will be most meaningful to hiring managers, and be sure that they will have enough frame of reference to understand it. It's especially easy to overdo it in entry-level Hollywood resumes. “Answered calls and scheduled meetings that saved executives 5+ hours a day” sounds a little ridiculous. “Rolled calls and scheduled meetings” is a more reasonable way to outline your experience -- if you feel you need to quantify to show volume, that's okay in moderation, but you'll want to be careful about how you present results in more task-oriented jobs like these.
Numbers can be helpful when they sound impressive, but there are also ways to show results without spitting out numbers every time. For instance, “Negotiated with vendors to procure production equipment and established track record of coming in under budget” is a great result without a number that also demonstrates your skills. “Managed development slate; greenlit highest-rated new series in network history” is another result that's more effective without a number and showcases what you spent your time doing.
Most importantly, make sure you’re able to speak intelligently about any result you mention. If you say “doubled the company’s social media following,” but the hiring manager learns during the interview that it only went from 10 followers to 20, that’s not really an impressive result, and it makes you sound a little fishy, like you padded your experience. And regardless of how truthfully you presented numbers in your resume, numbers often change, and they're tough to remember precisely -- don't let this trip you up in an interview.
When you sit down to write a results-oriented resume, think about the biggest highlights you’d share if you were describing your experience in an interview or asking for a promotion. Do your best to keep some of the same action verbs from the posting and add your own results spin on them. Expect that it will take you longer to craft a new resume for each job, but that’s okay -- in the end, it will be worth it.
Freelance jobs are common in Hollywood, and the question of how to list them on a resume is one we get a lot. The answer depends on what kinds of jobs you’re looking for.Your resume is supposed to tell the story of why you’d be right for the job, so there’s no one-size-fits-all freelancer resume.
If you’re looking for your next freelance production or writing gig (and have more than just a couple of credits -- more on this below), you should usually submit a credits list. The person in charge of crewing up is probably just looking to see if you’ve worked on anything reputable or similar to the new project and at what level. It's pretty simple -- pick a clear format with rows that include the project title, format, production company or network, your role, and the year. Something that can be viewed at a glance.
If you’re looking to transition to something full time, you’ll need to get a little more creative. When you've held a lot of similar positions or short term gigs but need a more traditional resume that includes some bullet points describing your responsibilities, we suggest grouping certain jobs together along thematic lines or by role. You could say something like "Freelance Production" or make it more specific. You may need a few separate headings for different types of roles -- your Production Assistant gigs shouldn’t be in the same section as your Associate Producer gigs. As you summarize your accomplishments in your bullets, you should name the most significant show or film titles in bold and caps, with the network or distributor in parentheses. Remember to match your bullets as closely as you can to the language in the job posting. You might not have the exact skills the job calls for, especially if you’re looking to go from working on set to working in an office, but you should think about transferable skills.
Things get a little trickier when you have some freelance jobs and some full time positions, and the key here is to keep your formatting consistent and clear. If you’re applying for a production job but don’t have enough credits for a full credits list, you can send a more traditional resume with a mixture of company names and show/movie titles in the company name field. You may also consider a resume that includes two sections, EXPERIENCE and CREDITS, but if you’re looking for something full time, err on the side of a traditional resume and highlight your full time experience as best you can.
Every situation is different, and it may take some tinkering before you find a format you’re fully comfortable with (of course, we’re happy to help!). But as long as you remember thebasic principles of resume writing, crafting one that reflects your freelance background is totally doable and shouldn’t be too scary!