Me, I have four. Really I do! I have the one you can see here on the blog. I have a full one that has every bit of info listed for all the shows I have ever done, and my full education and skills history. (This one is for sending in with work permit or work visa requests for international shows that may require government cooperation.) I also have a one pager; it is like a calling card or a large business card with show names and a photo layout. And lastly, I have the good old standard two-pager. It gives a quick overview of what I have been working on lately and some key education and skill elements.
And yes, I do change them up regularly…
Let me be clear; by change up, I do not mean embellish, make up, mislead or otherwise lie. It pains me to have to talk about this, but some folks feel they need to lie on their rèsumès to get a job. Firstly, that’s just not true: there is a place for you if you are a passionate and hard worker regardless of your experience, and secondly, in this day and age, everything you write down can be verified… so why would you bother?
By changing my rèsumè up, what I am trying to do is see if I can find a more interesting layout or something that is creative and eye catching, and most importantly, keep it current… I always make sure my rèsumè is up to date! After all, our rèsumès are the first view into who we are and what we have done.
The other day I was going through a large pile of application forms with rèsumès attached. I was surprised how many rèsumès did not have the applicant’s name front and centre. I had to search entire rèsumès to figure out which person they belonged to. Honestly, if this had been a basic job application, I would have been tempted to just put those rèsumès aside and move on. Way too much work!
I was also surprised by the amount of people that had put all their previous costume work history on their application, but none of this information on their rèsumè. I wonder why any one would not include the work experience on their rèsumè that was vital to the job they were trying to get?
Although, looking back at my first rèsumè attempts, a couple of those might have been a little wonky too!
When you are starting out, it is a difficult to put a rèsumè together and get it out there. What do you write down if you have just a few shows to go on? The temptation to fill a rèsumè with information, regardless of relevance to the job applied for, is sometimes overwhelming.
So how do you start?
I often get asked about rèsumès, and how to build them. And this is not just by new costumers but everybody. We are all looking to see what others have done before us so we can see what works and what maybe we could do differently.
So, I thought I would talk to some of the people in our department who constantly receive rèsumès and ask about what they look for. Hopefully this will shed some light.
Here are a few things they shared with me:
– Write your name and contact information clearly at the top of the page so it is quick and easy to find.
– Keep it neat and easy to read, don’t a use a complicated font.
– Don’t make it so busy that people have to search for the information they need.
– Add information that is relevant for the position you are applying for.
– you are applying for a job in the costume department… try adding the names of the Costumers you’ve worked with before adding the names of the directors and cast members.
– Include what position you held on each show, who you have worked under and for how long for each show.
When you are starting to build your film rèsumè, make sure to include all your related experience… paid and volunteer… all experience counts.
When you have finished working on a project, even if only for a few days, ask the costumer you were working under if they mind you adding their name to your rèsumè as a reference. You do not have to use them as a referral, but if the next costumer who receives your rèsumè knows them, it can be a great way to make a contact. Remember, most film communities are very close-knit… people talk!
Add all your related skills; computer programs, airbrush for breakdown, kimono tying, languages spoken. (Note: Using a washing machine and dryer is not classified as a skill, nor is climbing boxes, or driving a car… and yes, I do see these often added in the skills area!)
Add your education elements if they are related to the job you are applying for. You may be applying for a job as a prep costumer in the office; accounting and computer skills can be an asset there, so use your skills to your advantage!
Keep your rèsumè fluid. It should change up depending on the job you are going after. Don’t worry that it is not the same a last time. Tweak your rèsumè to showcase the specific experience and skills for each job you apply for.
Using your skills to go for different jobs is what is key to building a great rèsumè. So take advantage of what you know and use your time between shows to learn extra skills that will take you farther.
Double check that all the spelling (especially the designers’ names) and grammar is correct… don’t you love spell check! There are some very funny websites on the mistakes in rèsumès!
One last very important piece! Remember to save your rèsumè in PDF format before emailing it off to a show. If you leave your rèsumè in an unlocked word processing file, when it arrives at a different computer, your formatting can change, move all over the page and look messy and hard to read. This could mean the difference between getting a job or not.
Once you have your résumé in hand and a little experience under your belt, there is no way to go but up. Everybody needs a strong rèsumè… but it is who you are, how you work and what you share that will make you are great costumer on paper and off!
I read a great article by Karry Hannon in Forbes, “Want An Unbeatable Resume?” , It gives a fabulous run down on the basics of building a rèsumè and the job search. This information is great for any career, not just the costume department.