Make Your Entertainment Industry Resume Stand Out
The entertainment industry functions by its own set of rules, and for intern and entry-level candidates looking for a job in Hollywood, the standard college career center resume isn’t going to cut it.
Most industries want to see demonstrable outputs and fancy leadership experience, but in entertainment, where your first few years are going to be spent as a glorified secretary, highlighting your ability and willingness to do administrative grunt work is key.
Plus, since jobs and internships typically get hundreds of applications within hours of posting, it’s critical that your resume stands out and doesn’t feature any egregious mistakes that will make it easier for the hiring manager to toss it into the trash. So, how do you write an excellent resume to break into Hollywood? Here are some key tips for making your resume stand out (in a good way).
Keep the formatting clean and the content concise. Avoid lengthy paragraphs and opt for short bullet points instead. And keep it to one page! Don't use fancy formatting and pops of color. You’ll see beautiful resume formats available for download all over the internet, but they’re not fit for Hollywood. Why? Employers keep stacks of resumes for interns, PAs, and other candidates.
Printed. In a folder. If they can avoid wasting ink on your fancy, colorful resume before they’ve even had the chance to verify your eligibility, they will.
Another reason? Too many colors, graphics, or worse, a photo, looks unprofessional. It’s a resume, not a scrapbook.
Experience and Skills
Match your skills to the job posting. When writing your bullet points, pick verbs that mimic the ones used in the posting. Look at what skills the company is asking for, and make sure you convince the hiring manager that you’ve got them.
Don't list everything you’ve done on your resume. If your last job or internship had 16 tasks, but only three of them are relevant to the job you’re currently applying for, leave the remainder off your resume. Some of the things you did at your last job may have been incredibly cool, but if they’re non-transferable, they don’t matter.
Put your education at the top of your resume when applying for internships and jobs during college/grad school and for the first two years following college. It tells your story better – “I held down three jobs/internships or was the club leader of three organizations while also juggling coursework.” When education comes first, it sets the hiring manager’s expectations.
Don't include your GPA. While your grades may be important in some industries, no one in Hollywood cares what school you went to unless it’s their alma mater. Shoving your 4.0 GPA at Yale in the face of your boss who held down a 3.2 at CSUN isn’t going to endear you to them. Your success in this industry has very little to do with how book smart you are.
Include interests in your profile. Most people can handle the responsibilities of an intern or entry-level Hollywood employee.
But it’s harder to find a person who meshes with the office culture and really understands his or her boss. Listing your interests can establish commonalities or talking points that will set you apart from the pack. Just make sure they’re real and interesting – if you list “watching movies” as one of your interests, that’s a dud since you clearly enjoy films or you wouldn’t want to make them.
Don't include an objective. Your objective is obvious: Break into Hollywood however you can. That’s clear because you applied for the job. Your ultimate career objectives can be briefly stated in a cover letter and further outlined in an interview. Also, if you’re applying for a job at a TV network and write that your objective is to be a film director, you’ve shot yourself in the foot instead of getting a foot in the door.
Include past job and extracurricular experience. If you can spin your internship at a publishing house correctly – talking about how you answered phones, covered the slush pile, and tracked incoming and outgoing sales data – that’ll be meaningful to your employer. Same goes for leadership experience in a club since it shows dedication and hard work.
Don't list every short film you worked on in college. One or two is fine to showcase your on-set experience, and if they’ve placed in festivals or won Student Academy Awards, that’s great. But if your resume is just a list of projects you’ve directed, you come off as too cocky for the job at hand. You’re being hired to read coverage and answer phones, not to direct the next “Citizen Kane.”