Most of the time, college career counselors and other resume writers don’t specialize in entertainment and/or haven’t worked in the industry. While they might have a useful resume format for you to work off and some tips for creating strong bullet points, there are a few things they might not know to tell you. Three examples you should be aware of as you create your resume:
1. Only include relevant information.
When crafting your resume, your goal should be to minimize the number of words on the page. Think carefully about what hiring managers actually want and need to see. First of all, no one cares about your GPA, and you should only include scholarships and awards that are widely known as prestigious or are specifically related to the industry. Remember that priorities within academia -- meaning the things that have been your top priorities for most of your life -- are not the same as those in the working world. Instead, experience is what counts; if you have industry internships, these should be the central focus of your resume because the skills you learned there will be the most relevant information for a hiring manager. If you have enough internship experience to fill up the page, leave all the other stuff off. Otherwise, include any non-industry professional experiences (internships and otherwise) or campus leadership experiences that have transferable skills, and list them in chronological order. You might even include some of your coursework in the education section to show additional knowledge of the industry. Bottom line, remember to be selective as you decide what experience and information to include on your resume. No one expects you to have a robust resume when you're first starting out, so less is more: Relevant = important, unrelated = unnecessary.
2. Don’t overdo it.
When applying for entry-level jobs, you want to demonstrate that you know your place and aren’t expecting to run the company. No one wants to hire people who are too big for their britches, so you have to find a way to show off your most impressive skills and experiences without sounding presumptuous. Listing student film projects on your resume can lead to this trap if you're not careful. If the entire experience section of your resume is organized by film titles and roles like executive producer, director, and writer without context, it will look like you’ve produced a bunch of content no one has ever heard of, and you’re going to sound like a quack. Instead, make it clear that these were all student films. Student film projects provide valuable experience but aren’t necessarily representative of working in the industry, so if you call attention to the fact that you worked on these films within the school setting (you may even want to list them in the education section if you have enough internships in the experience section), you’ll come across as a candidate with reasonable expectations for your first job. Which leads us to our next point . . .
3. Administrative skills matter.
Your first job in the entertainment industry will likely be some sort of assistant position -- executive assistant, writers’ assistant, production assistant, etc. And all of these roles require administrative skills that are far below what you’re capable of. Yes, it’s weird that you have to start your career off as a glorified secretary, but that’s just the way it is. And because of this, you need to remember to include administrative skills on your resume -- rolling calls, managing schedules, booking travel, reconciling expenses, maintaining office organization -- the job posting will list specifically what’s needed, so use it as a guide for what keywords to include on your resume. It can be tempting to brag about how you were the chairperson of your campus's business association, leading meetings, drafting proposals, and managing club members, but it's actually more important to list the administrative and organizational skills you gleaned from that experience. It's counterintuitive, but your resume is about proving you can do the job at hand, not about listing every achievement in your life.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan