We're obviously huge supporters of people pursuing their Hollywood dreams -- that's why we launched our business, to help people break into and move up in a notoriously tough industry. But dreams can change, and there's no shame in deciding that the entertainment industry isn't right for you. Whether you're leaving the industry after only a couple of years or after a decade, you’re probably a little freaked out about making a career transition – entertainment is so specific, how are you going to appeal to employers in other industries on paper? Here are four tips for crafting a resume to get out of entertainment:
1. Use the job posting as your guide. If you’ve decided to move out of entertainment, hopefully you have an idea of what you want to do next (if you don’t, you’ll need to spend some time researching new industries and conducting informational interviews). Once you’ve found a few postings of jobs you reasonably think you can do and that interest you, use those postings to guide your process. You can even use the same verbiage from the posting, as long as it's true! Most action verbs can apply to any industry, so just choose bullet points that can incorporate the action verbs listed in the posting. The job posting is going to tell you exactly what you need to highlight in your resume and what skills are most valued by the potential employer.
2. Look for relevant transferrable skills. Once you know what the employer is looking for, analyze your experience and figure out what skills you have that could translate. You may not have done the exact task, but if you’ve done something similar, you should showcase how. For example, perhaps you’ll need to negotiate deals in the new role. If you’ve negotiated crew rates or vendor contracts as a producer, you can illustrate your negotiation prowess on your resume. Consider what makes you think you're capable of doing the job and be sure those skills -- and only those skills -- are what you highlight on your resume. For example, even if you do a lot of casting in your current role, you probably won't be casting in another industry, so your future employer won't find your casting experience that compelling on your resume. Remember that your resume is about the skills you bring to the table for the future, not a biography documenting your past.
3. Position yourself in a versatile way. If you're creating a professional summary, you can call yourself a media and communications professional instead of an entertainment industry professional. In doing so, you’re creating a broader profile for yourself that allows you to fit into more boxes. You could also consider an areas of expertise section where you can highlight certain skills that may not stand out in a bullet point – if you were a producer, you can list "project management" as an area of expertise, since that’s essentially what you were doing. Look for things that are standardized across industries and lock onto those.
4. Be careful about jargon. People outside the industry aren’t going to know what you’re talking about if you use too much industry terminology, and often entertainment terms mean something else entirely in a different field (consider that a director of development in entertainment develops film and TV projects, and a director of development in the nonprofit world is a fundraiser!). If your title isn’t going to make sense to an outsider, make sure you’re explaining what your role entailed in easy-to-understand terms. Assistants in particular fall into this trap -- "covering a desk" isn't really something people in other industries say, and neither is "rolling calls." You'll likely need to paint a more vivid picture of your work as an assistant to make the volume of your work clear to someone outside the industry.
Most importantly, a great resume alone is not going to get you the job. You'll need to supplement your new resume with a cover letter that explains your decision to pursue an alternate career path and a strong LinkedIn profile that can help you catch the eye of a recruiter. You’ll also need to do some networking and show in an interview that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about this new direction. Make sure you do your research and are ready to commit to something new – you’ve got a bit of convincing to do, but if you’re fully on board with this switch, you’ll be able to make a much stronger case for yourself and your abilities!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan