There’s a lot of debate around whether or not you should include your graduation year on your resume. Everyone’s story is unique, so this decision must be made on an individual basis -- whether you include the year or not depends on the story you're trying to tell with your resume. Here’s how we see it:
When you’re a few years into your career, your graduation year isn’t particularly relevant – it matters more that you have a degree than when you got that degree. Once you’ve made it past being an assistant, you should most likely leave off your graduation year and let your experience speak for itself. This will be especially helpful for older candidates (45+) who don’t want to date themselves – ageism in Hollywood is very real. On the flip side, there can also be some bias against younger job applicants going for more experienced roles. If you’re in your mid 30s and look a lot younger than your age, you may want to include your graduation year. This will help set the hiring manager’s expectations, and he won’t immediately write you off as a 25-year-old when you walk in the door.
If you are a recent grad, you should list education at the top of your resume and include your graduation year. Why? It helps communicate your resume story instantly, that you’ve finished school and are now looking for an entry-level position. All the work history that comes below education is contextualized by the fact that you were a student at the same time -- including your graduation year is a great way to showcase your ability to manage multiple projects at once! Plus, executives love to hire recent grads as their assistants – they’re seen as hungry and ready to take on the world.
It boils down to this: Is your graduation year relevant to your story? Or will it lead hiring managers to judge you negatively based on your age? Like any element of your resume, consider what you're communicating both explicitly and implicitly, and remember the only rule is to stay true to your own story.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
People like to ask us if it’s cheating to have a professional resume writer write their resumes. Obviously, we don’t think so. Unless you’re applying for a job where you’d need to write or evaluate resumes (like a college career center or HR), your potential employer isn’t hiring you because of how well you wrote your resume -- she’s hiring you because of the skills listed on your resume. And if someone else can help you package those skills in a way that will catch a recruiter’s eye, well, why wouldn't you go for it?
The truth is, someone else probably can help you present your skills better than if you were to write your resume yourself. It’s really hard to accurately assess your own skills and talk about your achievements at work -- people tend to either undersell themselves because they’ve been trained to be humble, or oversell themselves out of a misguided notion that cockiness is everything. Plus, a lot of what you do all day at work is so obvious to you that you may forget to include it in your resume, even though a recruiter may need that context.
That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down with someone who isn’t familiar with your day-to-day to talk through your skills. An unbiased outsider can ask the right questions to get you thinking about your achievements -- how many clients did you sign? How well did the shows you developed perform in the ratings? Did you take on any higher level duties while you were an assistant? They can also clarify some of the murkier aspects of your resume -- what do you mean by “updated social media?” What kind of company is your start-up? Who did you liaise with internally and externally?
The other benefit to having help with your resume is that it can often be a confidence booster. When you’re bogged down by job applications and rejections, it’s easy to get depressed and think you simply don’t have what it takes. But by talking through your accomplishments with an outsider, you’ll be able to verbalize what you’ve done and take ownership of your performance -- and get a head start finding anecdotes or background for some of the popular questions about strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. Usually, our clients feel prouder of their work histories after they’ve had a chance to tell their stories. But even if you realize you’re answering more questions with “No, I never did that” or “No, I wouldn’t want to do that,” you’ll also be in a better position -- you’ll be able to reassess the kinds of roles you’re applying for and figure out the right next step, instead of wasting time applying for jobs that aren't a right fit.
There’s enough stress when it comes to the job search, and your time is better spent focusing on identifying your dream companies and networking your way into them than struggling through multiple drafts of your resume. Consider letting a professional resume writer prepare you for when you make those fruitful connections.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Let’s face it: Some days, even if you love your job, you want to do more. You want to live beyond your desk, your inbox, your projects, and your coworkers. This is especially true when you don’t love your job. It can be hard waking up every morning, shuffling to the office, and focusing on a goal you’re just not feeling any more. So what can you do about it? Glad you asked! We’ve found that having an extracurricular activity outside of work not only boosts your mental health, but can help make you more productive at work, yield connections you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and yes, even enhance your resume.
First off, volunteer work or a side hustle can help you develop some great leadership skills that might otherwise be reserved for your superiors at your current job. For example, if you were to join the planning committee for a nonprofit’s annual gala, it would teach you fundraising skills, how to negotiate with vendors, and digital marketing strategies. You never know when those types of skills might come in handy at work, but more importantly, they'll likely expand the types of opportunities you're qualified for when you start exploring other jobs.
Okay, sure, but isn't that also work? What about an extracurricular that's just totally fun, without the stress of volunteering, endless committee meetings, and time commitments? Yup, that's great too -- it’s actually still beneficial for your career if you pursue a hobby. Let's say you enroll in a dance class. In addition to burning off calories and steam, you’ll likely make friends. And maybe your new dance BFF’s roommate works at your dream company and can refer you when there’s an opening! The more you expand your social circle, the more you expand your professional network -- and the best way to get your resume into the right hands is through a contact who really knows you ... AKA a friend.
I get it, but how is this stuff going to boost my actual resume? Well, your extracurriculars are fair game for the experience section of your resume if you're learning transferrable skills, but even those purely fun activities can be useful. We’re big fans of including an interest section on your resume to help prospective employers see you as a person, not just a list of skills. This way, a hiring manager can potentially relate to you -- maybe they dance too, or they volunteer with a similar charitable organization. Or, maybe your hobby is so interesting that they’ll want to bring you in to learn more about it -- like you play Quidditch, collect airline miles, or have run marathons in 12 cities.
Expanding your life beyond your desk is better for you as a person -- which makes it better for your career. The workforce hasn’t been taken over by robots (yet), and hiring managers are looking for happy, well-rounded people. So be happy, and take advantage of the added value your hobbies will contribute to your career!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Hollywood Resumes' Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan were interviewed by Hollywood Hustle podcast about breaking into the entertainment industry -- we shared our own career stories along with tips for how to search for jobs, build a network, and craft a strong resume and cover letter.
Listen to the full episode here, or on your favorite podcasting platform! We also helped cohost Daniel Tuttel revise his resume on the spot in a fun bonus preview episode!