The best way to get your resume from the bottom of the stack into the "must interview" pile is to highlight the right skills the hiring manager is looking for. While there's no one-size-fits-all resume that will work for all roles within the entertainment industry, there are some skills that many Hollywood jobs require, regardless of the position. You should always match your resume to the job posting to make sure you're reflecting the appropriate skills and verbiage, but there are a few basic elements you'll likely want to include on your resume in some form or another, and these differ based on your experience level. Here's a breakdown of what you should highlight at various stages of your Hollywood career:
For an intern, most hiring managers want someone who is smart, reliable, and eager to learn, and this can be conveyed in many different ways on a resume. But once you’re ready for an assistant position, your resume needs to change -- there are some very specific skills that should be on your resume if you want to get an interview. In particular, administrative duties like answering phones and scheduling must be included. Although they seem like menial and easy tasks, they will be the core of your job as an assistant, and your potential boss will want to know he's going to be covered if he hires you. It’s all about proving that you know how to manage a desk. If you’re going for PA roles, phones won’t matter as much, but ordering lunches, going on runs, and setting up equipment are going to be important. There’s a good chance you’ve acquired those skills during college or an internship – don’t leave them off. Even if you've developed more advanced skills through campus leadership, other work experience, or student film productions, make sure the primary focus is on your ability to handle administrative duties and organizational tasks, so your boss knows you'll be committed to the job at hand and not immediately looking to jump into a higher-level role.
Obviously, mid-level roles are a lot more varied and specific than entry-level roles, but there are a few things to pinpoint that pretty much all hiring managers will want to see. The main ones fall under the category of communication skills – showing your ability to cultivate relationships and manage projects by interfacing with a wide range of stakeholders is key. You'll also want to highlight the moments when you took initiative and your achievements. Make sure you call out the big projects you've worked on (or better, led), clients you've brought on, shows you've sold, or workflows you've implemented to provide evidence of your successes. To land those mid-level jobs, show that you will be able to keep projects running smoothly but will also bring added value to the company.
If you’re looking for VP and department head positions, our advice for mid-level jobs still applies, but on top of that, you’ve got to prove your management and leadership skills. Part of that is supervising teams – often, you’ll develop those skills in mid-level roles, but now is the time to show that you have mastered it. But beyond people management, you have to think about cultivating and implementing the overall vision for the department, project, or company. What projects in your past have forced you to think strategically and from a big-picture POV? You’ll also need to note if you’ve managed budgets, since most senior-level roles involve managing project budgets, salaries, and vendor contracts. As long as you aren’t breaking confidentiality agreements, it can be good to reference budget ranges on your resume when they are relevant to the job you are applying for. Additionally, senior leaders are often the face of the company during both internal meetings and externally. If you have a way to showcase public speaking skills or that you’ve represented your company at pitch meetings with high level buyers, these are good things to include on your resume.
Please note that this is simply a general guide to get you thinking about what types of things might go on your resume -- it's up to you to get specific and tailor the resume to the posting at hand. And remember, it's impossible to encapsulate the entirety of your career on a one or two page resume, so it's best to highlight the skills that are going to be valued most. Then, when you’re ready to level up, you’ll need to overhaul your resume again – for instance, you'll want to lose the assistant skills on your mid-level resume and likely remove those work experiences altogether for your senior-level resume. Think of your resume as a working document that will change frequently to help you get the specific job you’re applying for, and you'll get hired soon enough!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan