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.
"Industry Spotlight" is our monthly series where we interview professionals from across the entertainment industry about their current jobs and career trajectories. Our hope is that you will learn more about the positions you're already interested in, discover new roles you may not have considered, and utilize the wisdom of those who've paved the way before you to forge your own path for success.
This month, we sat down with Jenny Paul, creator and star of the upcoming web series Adulting With Jane, premiering October 22.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: In one sentence, how would you describe what you do?
JENNY: I am an actor/producer/content creator working mostly in the indie film and TV space in NYC.
HR: What was your first TV or film role and how did you book it?
JENNY: I’ve had dozens at this point, indie and mainstream, but I’ll call JESSICA JONES my first biggie. I auditioned. Went in, dressed the part, went balls to the wall (the audition was for a fan girl), and booked it the next day.
HR: Describe your process of auditioning and booking roles.
JENNY: These days, most of my jobs, especially on a smaller scale, come from referrals or direct offers, but I’m still in auditioning rooms and putting myself on tape frequently for bigger roles in bigger network and OTT productions. My last big role was a recurring role on THE LOOMING TOWER with Jeff Daniels and Peter Sarsgaard. I was seen by the casting office for a different/smaller role, and then they called me back again to read for the one I ended up booking: ‘Maureen’ in the CIA office.
HR: How/why did you start your own production company?
JENNY: Intent Entertaiment is actually my third! Each LLC was opened specifically for a different project or set of projects that I either produced or was involved in producing. The first two were with partners, and this one is just me. For now.
HR: What do you like most about your day-to-day?
JENNY: The flexibility is nice. I can take acting jobs and work my producing around it for the most part. I also like using my left brain as much as I use my right brain. The acting/producing combo keeps me interested. And busy!
HR: What are the skills someone would need to succeed in your position?
JENNY: Flexibility. Resilience. Resourcefulness. Optimism. Empathy.
HR: If you don't like ____________, you won't like my job.
JENNY: An ever-changing schedule.
HR: What’s an element of your career that an outsider wouldn’t expect (and maybe you didn’t expect before you got started?
JENNY: All the networking. Knowing people. Knowing people that know people. Knowing people that know people that know people. It takes a village to raise an indie baby.
HR: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
JENNY: Letting my fear of not succeeding get the better of me and giving my power away (metaphorically and sometimes literally).
HR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break in, what would it be?
JENNY: Do whatever you can to discover and love your unique voice and viewpoint. There’s only one you, and I (and the business) are interested in being inspired by that person and that person’s contributions.
HR: Do you have any advice for how to keep up with bills/rent when you're between projects?
JENNY: I tutor SATs and ACTs-- and have for years. I don’t "need" to anymore for the most part, but it keeps me sane, helps bridge the gaps when money is tight, and makes a good year a really good year!
HR: Thanks, Jenny!
It’s already October?! The year is flying by! If you’re thinking about finding a new job for the new year, you should probably begin getting your application materials ready and doing some research. It may seem premature, but you'll get the best results if you start now. Here's why:
1. You still have time to build some key relationships. It’s not ideal to ask someone you’ve just met for a job. But if you can set up some informational meetings in October and November before everyone starts to check out for the holidays, you’ll be able to establish a rapport without begging for a job in your first meeting. Plus, you can count this as recon – you may get some insight about what roles might be opening up in January. So build your list of dream companies and start reaching out ASAP!
2. The holidays are a great time to reconnect. Make a list of all the people you want to get back in touch with in the new year. You’ll want to send them some sort of holiday greeting before or after the Christmas break. When doing this, you’ll often hear about new job openings, so you’ll want your application materials to be ready to go whenever they’re asked for. Plus, don’t you want to relax over the holidays instead of stressing about who you forgot to email?
3. You’ll be ahead of the curve when January rolls around. We always get a flurry ofresume orders during the first couple of weeks of January. Everyone is looking for a job in the new year, and this is often when lots of great roles open up. Imagine if instead of rushing to get your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date, you could spend your time researching job openings and being one of the first to submit your resume. Your January will be far less stressful than others’, and you’ll have more time to spend on getting yourresume into the right hands.
Three months might seem like a long time, but in reality, you only have a few usable weeks left in the year to get prepared for your 2020 job hunt. Remember, it takes time to put all the puzzle pieces in place to successfully land a new job. Get started now – you won’t regret it!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan