In many ways, writing a resume for the entertainment industry is just like writing for any other industry, so be sure to check out 7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them and also Don’t Write a Resume, Tell a Story.
But there are some special points I wanted to make in relation to the entertainment industry (and by that I mean everything from music to films and TV to video games).
Please note: These resume tips do not apply to entertainment talent. Your resumes have very specific requirements and we don’t specialize in that area. But if you develop video games, work in television, design sound for movies, write scripts, market music or work in any other entertainment industry profession, these tips will help you hone your resume.
1. It’s Still Business
Your job is to entertain people, but it’s still in a business. Whether you’re just starting out, or at the most senior levels of your industry, your resume needs to show how your creativity and hard work drove ratings, sales, brand awareness, or some other business metric.
If you’re a video game designer, how did the changes you made to a game impact the final outcome? Was the game faster? Did it get better reviews? Did it sell more copies?
A TV programming executive will need to show how his decisions impacted ratings and advertising revenue.
A director of animated movies must be creative – but her creativity is in service of the goal of making money.
Bottom line: Entertainment is a business like any other and your resume should show that you understand that.
2. Third-party Validation is Very Powerful.
Third-party validation simply means the stuff other people say about you.
As an entertainment professional, you have a great advantage here. Accountants don’t work on things that get talked about publicly (at least, not unless the company gets into some very high-profile trouble!) But you work on products that people review and discuss.
Use this to your advantage. If you worked on a TV show or movie or video game that got exceptional reviews, scatter a few of them through your resume. They don’t even have to be newspaper reviews. Perhaps your game or TV show was discussed on Internet forums, or maybe the book you edited was sold on Amazon and reviewed by readers. If so, choose the best quotes and use them in your resume.
And of course, awards are excellent third-party validation too because they prove that others valued your work. If you have lots of them, highlight them prominently on the first page of your resume.
3. You can be a little creative
You don’t have to be stuffy or traditional with your resume design and layout. Being in a creative industry gives you a little more freedom than someone who works as an engineer.
Use colors. Add a personal logo if you have one. Look for ways to set yourself apart at first glance.
4. But Not Too Creative!
You must strike a balance with your resume. A little creativity is good but too much can obscure your message.
When thinking about how you can spice up your resume, keep your value proposition and strategy top of mind. (Not sure how to develop a value proposition? Take our free email course and learn how). The key is to use creativity to enhance your message not obscure it.
Also, be aware of constraints if you will be emailing your resume. You must send an MS Word version because PDFs can’t be read by applicant tracking systems (meaning your resume won’t be found months from now when the company scans its resume database looking for a designer). And when you email Word documents, they can lose their formatting if you don’t use common fonts.
I work on a Mac but many of my clients are on a PC. Fonts I have found to travel well include Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Tahoma and Trebuchet.
5. Name drop!
If you have worked with famous people, drop names! Everyone is impressed by famous names whether or not they admit it. But it’s more than that – having worked with people who are at the top of their game sends a clear signal that you are also at the top of yours.
You can also drop the names of big-name companies for the exact same reason. By doing so, you attach some of their prestige to yourself.