We get a LOT of questions about how to format a resume, and for good reason! Resumes are really tricky documents with very high stakes. Job candidates don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity they’re qualified for because they happened not to know the latest resume trends. Here are our answers to three of the most common questions we’re asked about resume formats:
What’s better: A beautiful, graphically designed resume or a traditional format?
If you’re going for a design job, leaning into your design skills on your resume is a definite plus, since it proves your skill set more than well-written bullets ever could. But the majority of roles in entertainment aren’t in graphic design, even though they’re creative, so nine times out of ten, you’ll want a traditional format. It’s not old school or outdated to create a simple document that’s easy to read; rather, it’s helpful to the hiring manager, who would prefer to scan a familiar document where she can find information easily. It’s also easier for applicant tracking systems, which aren’t capable of reading complicated documents. Channel the time and energy you’d spend perfecting your Canva template on writing strong bullet points and tapping into your network instead. And don’t worry too much about color – whether or not you put your name in blue isn’t going to increase or decrease your chances at getting an interview. We prefer black and white, but if you want a pop of color, just pick a color that isn’t too bright or pastel.
Should my resume be one page or longer?
For most jobs, a one-page resume is best. Hiring managers are busy, and the less they have to read to get a sense of your qualifications, the better. Think about it like reading scripts – you’ll always go with the shorter page count first! That said, there are some circumstances where two-pages make sense. First, if you’re going for high-level executive roles (VP and above), you may want to craft a CV that highlights your core skills, career highlights, awards, and/or speaking engagements in addition to your long work history, and one page simply won’t be enough. There are fewer applicants for these higher-level jobs, and hiring teams will take more time evaluating candidates, so it’s okay to have two pages. If you can stick to one, you should, so as not to waste time and space. And you should avoid bleeding onto a third page. Some other times you might want a two-pager is if you’re asked for a full credits list or if you need to combine a credits list with a breakdown of other work chronology and skills.
How should I organize my resume?
Your resume tells the story of how your career thus far has qualified you for the open role. Like with any story, there’s a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is always going to be your header, followed by the most critical piece of information the hiring manager needs to know for context to your resume. This could be a professional summary that explains how your work history aligns with your present goals, or your most recent experience, or the core skills you have that qualify you for the role, or your education, if it’s recent. There’s no hard and fast rule here as to which of these is most important to lead with – it all comes down to your unique story. The bulk of your resume should list your experience, most likely in reverse chronological order (there are rare situations where you might opt for a functional resume, which would group experiences together by skills or highlights, but this is not recommended for most candidates). If you have key skills and achievements from volunteer work or extracurricular activities, include those experiences in the same section as your professional experience. If you didn’t lead with education and you have a degree or relevant coursework, you’ll want to list that after experience, followed by technical and language skills, awards, professional affiliations, volunteer activities, and interests.
The main thing to keep in mind with formats is that you want to choose a format that works for you, instead of trying to mold your experience to fit a template. Your unique career story should be the focus of your resume, not your format.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan