Ah, the infamous resume. The PDF that is supposed to perfectly encapsulate your work ethic, knowledge, talent, and everything you are as a person on a single page (Did we mention PDF? And single page? Unless you have a PhD, worked at NASA, or developed a cure for cancer, your resume should only be one page). While this seems near impossible, I have some advice on how to turn your blinking cursor into the Hollywood resume that leaps out from the large pile your potential future employer is sloughing through. This could be the job that’s your big break, so let’s up your chances and sharpen your resume with these insider tips:
1. Answer the Only Question that Matters
More times than not, someone looking at your resume has never even met you, so this single page PDF (okay, I’ll stop) is the only piece of information they have to get an impression of you. If you’ve never met this person, how are you supposed to know what they’re looking for? Easy. Because everyone is looking for the same thing: “Will this person make my life easier?” Focus less on your career aspirations and more on what you can offer them now. They want to know you can do a job even if it’s simple, unchallenging, or a menial task no one else wants to do.
2. Make Yourself Look Successful and Desirable
A great way to show you can get a job done (and well) is through an “Awards and Achievements” section. If someone else has given you previous recognition on a task you accomplished, now you have multiple voices convincing the employer that you’d be a great fit. Now isn’t the time to be humble, it’s the time to shine. Don’t be a jerk about it, but make sure you include the things you’ve done extremely well. Quantify them if possible. If you’ve succeeded before, employers will be more likely to trust that you’ll succeed in the job they want to hire you for.
3. Forge a Personal Connection
Your resume is still in the game, and the pile is getting shorter and shorter. What’s going to keep your hat in the ring? Your “Interests” and/or “Organizations” section. You have an immediate advantage over other applicants if the decision maker personally relates to something on your resume. Maybe you studied abroad in Beijing, or you volunteer at an organization, or have a following on a podcast reviewing the best pies on the West Coast. Whatever it is, the more diverse things you include, the better your chances of making a personal connection.
4. Make It Quick and Easy to Read
Even though you want to jam pack as much information as you can, it’s important to remember you only have about 5 seconds to get the reader’s attention. That’s the average time someone looks at a resume, so you need to make an impression ASAP. Make sure your bullet points are brief and to the point. Use a simple, professional-looking font (Times, Tahoma, Verdana, and Arial are always winners) in a readable size (nothing smaller than 11 point). Oh, and don’t forget: LOTS of white space. Don’t crowd the page with text, let the white space draw the reader’s eye to the good stuff. Your experience and personal additions in your Hollywood resume will get you over the finish line.
Want to read more on how to create a Hollywood resume that stands out? Pick up my book Hollywood Game Plan on Amazon or at Michael Wiese Productions (MWP) and check out my Hollywood Bootcamp for more insider tips.
Did you like How to Create a Hollywood Resume That Gets You to the Top of the Pile? Great! Please share it via your social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) by using the share button at the bottom of this article. Thanks!
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.