Follow My Resume Ten Commandments to Avoid Having Your Job Hopes Dashed
1. Thou Shalt Not Go Over One Page
Anything over one page will almost always be deleted. Sure, a few people slip through the cracks and get interviews with a two-pager, but the gold standard is one page. Violations of this rule happen all the time; I’ve seen resumes that have two lines on the second page (which demonstrates that you can’t properly edit), or the second page is completely blank (demonstrating you are not detail-oriented). I’ve even seen a resume for an assistant position that was eight pages long. No surprise that the candidate was never called in.
2. Thou Shalt Include Standard Information
You can find a variety of great resume templates online. Different professions have different requirements, but the essential information for all resumes in entertainment boils down to: Contact info, Education, Work Experience, and Skills/Interests.
3. Thou Shalt Submit a Resume in PDF Format
You must send your resume in a format that can’t be changed. So, no word, pages, google doc, or any other type of format.
4. Thou Shalt Not Use Colored Text or Colored Paper
Reese Witherspoon as ”Elle Woods” in Legally Blonde may have gotten into Harvard by putting her resume on pink paper (and submitting a video in a bikini), but most employers truly don’t want that. Have copies of your resume printed out on professional paper, in white or ivory only.
Always put your text in black. Avoid colors like orange, pink, and yellow, as they don’t print well, nor do they make you look serious. Remember, it’s a resume, not an art project.
Speaking of color, let’s talk about the color white. You want to have plenty of white space in your document, so please use 11 or 12 pt font, and don’t go crazy with the bolding, underlining, and italicizing. Keep it balanced and uniform.
5. Thou Shalt Not Lie
Seems obvious, but if you don’t know a particular program, don’t list it on your skills. You’ll be found out very quickly, and word spreads very fast in this town.
6. Thou Shalt Use Dates
If you don’t have dates of when you worked at various jobs or when you graduated, it looks dubious. For internships, it’s completely acceptable to say “Summer 2017” or “Fall 2016” when describing your semester abroad. Speaking of dates, just put down your graduation or expected graduation date. Nobody needs to know how long it took you to get your diploma.
7. Thou Shalt Not Include Your GPA
Unless you have a 3.9 or a 4.0, you really don’t need to include your GPA. Just knowing that you graduated is sufficient. Other fields like accounting, the law, and medicine require minimum GPA, but in entertainment, your hustle will matter more than your grades.
8. Thou Shalt Use a “Feather”
What do I mean by a “feather”? Imagine a scale. Now imagine a resume with a qualified candidate on each side. Both went to good schools, have similar work experience, and the necessary skills for the position. What will tip the balance in favor of one of these candidates? A feather! A feather is something that makes you interesting or unique. It allows people to see something in your resume that will get you called in for a meeting. Because we want to work in entertainment, having a personality is key. People who are looking for someone like you will recognize it and call you in. I’ve seen feathers like:
“Language: Bilingual. Fluent in English and Sarcasm.” This person had work experience at The Ellen Show, Late Night with James Corden, Funny or Die, and Broadway Video. Clearly he works in comedy, so something like this would stand out in the right way, but would be terrible on a resume applying to work for the FBI.
“Skills: Knows the words to every Nicki Minaj song ever written.” This person was applying to work at TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, E! News, etc. Having a pop culture reference like that would absolutely get the attention of the hiring manager at any of those places.
“Travel: Visited 22 countries including: Singapore, Malta, Colombia, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong.” This is particularly important if you want to work in production on a show like “Survivor” or any show that requires travel. It assumes you have a current passport and can be ready to leave at a moments notice.
9. Thou Shalt Not Submit Outside of Business Hours
Seems like a no-brainer, but just this weekend I was copied on a job posting that went out last week. Six applications were put in over the weekend, and one was sent at 10:57pm on Sunday. Really? I’ve yet to meet a qualified candidate who didn’t naturally follow this rule. Remember, you aren’t in college any more, where you can just text, email, or call people at any hour; this is the adult world, and it’s time to adapt to the rule of the employed jungle.
10. Thou Shalt Not Include a Photograph
No need to show people who you are on a resume. If you are ambitious, however, you’ll create a 1-minute video introducing yourself and telling your unique story.