I’ve worked with college students for many years from various universities around the world, all trying to get their foot in the door in Hollywood. The priority is to get their resumes up to speed so they stand out and don’t waste an executive’s time. We have a saying in Hollywood “You can make more money but you can’t make more time so don’t waste mine.”
Here’s 5 key areas to consider for making an high impact resume:
First, know the difference between an acting resume and a production resume, and for actors – an East coast acting resume has a different order than a West coast acting resume. Film is the key player in LA and should be at the top of the list while theater is top dog on the East coast. There are key formats to follow so go online and do your research. And please… keep the credits accurate and don’t lie. Remember that Google is not just about “search” it’s about “reputation management.” If you lie, you will be found out – just ask NBC anchor Brian Williams of late.
For a production resume, you want to list your paid work at the top, followed by unpaid work which includes your college student projects and other productions you have worked on for free. The next section is your education (no high school please), followed by the last section – your skills. Keep the information in neat columns and don’t over explain. I know what a Starbuck’s Barista does. The columns should be divided into place, person or production title, then the place you did the project, followed by the date of the project. Entries should be listed with your present or most recent project or position at the top. List the ones you are most proud of or want an interviewer to know and talk to you about. If your list is massive decide what you need to keep or toss and don’t try and cram it all in. Keep in mind your resume has to fit on one page using an easy to read font and a letter size no smaller than 12. No floral watermarks or flourishes please and keep it on nice white heavy paper.
Second, list one thing in the skill area that makes you unique, interesting, or that an employer who is on a set with you for 12 hours or in an editing room with you for 15 hours a day would find fun and interesting to chat with you about. Employers want to be around creative interesting people so be one. List old time banjo player, skydiver, or cross trainer junkie. This gives you a chance to be memorable. It’s an entertainment resume so entertain them. If you are a writer it’s a great place to show off your writing skills.
Third, list this statement at the bottom of your resume…. References available on request. Don’t list your references but be ready and have a copy with you should they ask for it. One other hint… don’t volunteer for a job, intern, or work for free without walking away with a letter of reference. This is your payment and you never know when it will come in handy. Get it before you leave the job. You will never shine brighter than when you are there working and they may not be available a month or year later when you need that recommendation.
Fourthly, take a look at the Header (the information at the top of the page.) I like it centered at the top. It’s a subconscious thing. You should be the center of attention on your resume. Then add the information neatly on either side or underneath your name so an employer doesn’t have to go searching for it. List your complete address, phone, email, Skype name, and if you have a website (which you should) list it so that they can go there and grab your demo tape (which you should have).
Finally, clean up your pics on Facebook, and Instagram and your comments on Twitter. Know that as soon as you walk out the door employers who are interested will Google your name. What do you want them to see or not see? How hard will they have to look to find your name and info? Are you at the top of the Google search because you have regularly posted work and projects you have done or are you there because of your party pics?
Coming and competing in Hollywood for the top jobs and positions is challenging but you can at least be armed with the right weapon – a great resume.