We get lots of clients who have parallel career trajectories – they’ve been a producer for years but have also worked in events, or they’ve worked equally in TV and branded content, or they write while holding down a steady day job, or any number of other dualities (as resume writers and entertainment professionals ourselves, we fall into the same category)! But what does this mean for your resume and LinkedIn profile? How can you prove to a hiring manager that you’re interested in a specific job, when half of your experience is in a different part of the industry (or a different industry entirely)?
First of all, you will almost certainly need at least two different resumes, one focused on each trajectory. The particulars depend on the specifics of your situation -- that's why we advocate for letting your story guide your resume format, not the other way around. Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about this: 1. If you can leave one path out without creating gaps, only include related jobs in your timeline and allude to your unique perspective in another way, like a call-out in your professional summary or skills & interests section; 2. Include both sets of jobs in your timeline, and for the divergent career path, only include transferable, relevant skills. If your timeline overlaps, put the more relevant jobs first. If you're looking to combine your two skillsets for an entirely new role, you'll need a strong professional summary or even a functional resume that allows you to organize your work by core skills -- these being, of course, the skills you'll bring to the new role.
But what about LinkedIn? You can’t have two LinkedIn profiles.
Before you write off LinkedIn as a tool for your career, consider that it offers a huge upside compared to your resume. LinkedIn lets you write in first person and tell your story in a truthful way -- it's an opportunity to add context to the simple chronology and explain what your unique perspective is. And with two backgrounds, you certainly have a lot to say!
If there’s one side of your two career paths that you’re leaning toward more heavily, focus more on those skills on LinkedIn as well and express the other work as a side interest, highlighting what you've learned from those experiences that enhances your work in your primary path. But even if you’re looking for jobs in two fields equally, you can use your professional summary section to outline your unusual career trajectory and explain that you have two different passions, each one informing the other in its own way. Explain that you're open to roles on either side, and frame it as a value-add. Take the opportunity to give reasoning behind your career choices and explain how the things you have learned through each enhance your business approach.
However, there are some times when you may want to be a little more vague with your LinkedIn profile -- if your boss doesn't know you're looking for jobs and expects your profile to reflect your full-time position, if you use LinkedIn as a sales prospecting tool in your current role and need to show focus to potential clients, or if there are other political reasons you need to maintain a level of privacy, that's fine. We still recommend you have a profile so that you can connect with people, but you may prefer to keep your profile sections short and sweet. When you've moved on to your next role, you can build your profile out more.
One key thing to remember – no two people have the same career trajectory. In fact, the things that make you an unconventional candidate might be the same things that make you stand out from the pack! Take pride in your ability to excel in more than one area and come up with a few different frameworks to express your skills and background, so hiring managers get the information they need to see. It may take a bit more work to craft your story for your audience, but with two careers, we know you're no stranger to hard work, and in this industry, no stranger to storytelling!
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Cindy & Angela
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If you work in entertainment, you’re a storyteller, in one way or another. And when you’re looking for jobs, those storytelling skills should be put to use when you write your resume. Every good resume tells a story – the story of your work history and why it makes sense for a specific employer to hire you. And every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Keep this in mind as you start to craft your resume – it will help dictate the structure, format, and verbiage you use.
The beginning of your resume is where you introduce yourself. When you meet someone new, you typically shake hands and tell the person your name. You can’t shake hands on paper, but you can put your name across the top in big, bold letters. Announce yourself proudly – you’ve got a lot of great stuff to share! Additionally, an introductory conversation often begins with where you’re from – in a resume, that takes the form of contact info. This should all be in the resume header.
Whatever goes next on your resume is going to be the information that gives the hiring manager context for all the other stuff they’re about to read. The first section after the header varies from person to person, depending on what’s most important to get across. For recent grads, it should be education, and your story will read as “Hi, I’m a recent grad looking for an entry-level position. Look at all the impressive stuff I did while I was in college!” For many people, experience will lead the resume – “Hi, I’ve spent the past 5 years as a development executive at Comedy Central.” Hopefully that first thing has a natural lead-in to whatever job you’re applying for. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider a professional summary that calls attention to your areas of expertise and specializations. A professional summary or list of core skills is also helpful for executives with a dense work history – if the hiring manager only read the professional summary or saw a few words called out in bold, they’d be able to get a sense of what the person brings to the table and can choose to read further if that person sounds like a fit. Think about how you want to frame yourself, and let that dictate however you start your story.
The rest of your resume should unfold naturally based on whatever information you’ve set up at the top. Typically, this takes the form of a timeline that shows your trajectory in reverse chronological order. A hiring manager should be able to see career progression and any key achievements that happened along the way. Within your resume bullet points, you will provide supporting information to back up the argument that you’re right for the job, including the relevant skills you’ve acquired in each role.
And the end of your resume should be the “extras,” stuff that doesn’t need a whole lot of space, like computer skills, languages, and interests. Sometimes this is a spot to get in keywords for applicant tracking systems. But it’s also a place to share information that’s going to round you out as a person and make it seem like there’s more to you than the stuff you’ve done at work – like volunteer work, hobbies, and various achievements. Again, this stuff all depends on the specific person, but it’s a nice way to tag your story.
Keep in mind that your story may need to change slightly depending on the job you apply for. It all goes back to tailoring your resume to the job posting. There’s no way you can fit your entire work history into one or two pages, but by choosing the most relevant information selectively, you can build a profile that positions you for the role you’re interested in. Just remember that the story you need to tell is the one the hiring manager is looking for (in the same way that you’d pitch the type of project you think a development executive is looking for). Be authentic, but present information in the way they’ll be able to understand it.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan