25 FEBRUARY 2017
written by Mike
TIPS FOR A GREAT RESUME
Having a good resume is important. You read that statement everywhere, you hear it from your career advisor, it seems like a no-brainer.
But what does CV stand for today?
And is it still that important?
I would argue that yes. Yes, it is. Why? Well, I understand that the world is changing, social media is everywhere, portals like LinkedIn are creating new ways for job hunters like you. And a classic style resume may not be as valid in the future. But today most employers are still a bit old fashioned. They like a good CV. One they can hold in their hands. And even if they don’t care, I can guarantee that HR will appreciate it.
I always say it is better to meet the people you want to work for in person first. You could attend an event, conference or even some kind of a technology expo. I remember attending Gamescom with my younger brothers couple of years ago.
Besides the newest games, there was a corner with education and career advisors. It’s an easy way to make some contacts face to face. I think most of the exhibits like that have some “career corner.” But I know that it is not always an option to go to this kind of events. In that case, your CV will be your brand seller. Your face.
What does it mean?
It means that based on your resume you will end up in either YES or NO folder. I remember, once I saw my manager working through tens of CVs. There were two folders, green YES, and red NO on his desktop. “Hey, where is a ‘maybe’ folder?” I asked him. “I haven’t got time for a maybe.”
How you build your CV is important. It takes about 10 seconds to scan it with managerial eyes and if you don’t have anything that will stop them. Well, welcome to the NO folder. I’ve seen a lot of CVs; I have designed a lot of CVs for other people too. And I know one thing for sure. People don’t know how to write their resumes! I mean, one time someone sent me a CV written by hand. It looked like a child wrote it.
It is that bad.
But have no fear! I want to share with you few insights and few tips on how to tailor your bio. All these tips are universal and don’t apply just to music or sound industry.
Know the position
Read the job description. You want to know what you are applying for, but also if it’s a good fit for you too.
What are the requirements?
Are there any specifics?
If yes, then make sure you mention all them on your CV. My girlfriend’s boss said they first thing they look at is if CV says all the things they ask in the job advert. It is a requirement. I know that some of these things can seem like common sense to you. “I don’t need to put that on my CV. It is evident that I know this, and it will just take up space.” It can land you in the NO folder before anyone has a chance to read the rest of the stuff from your resume.
Adjust your skills
It is an important point. If a job offer says “sound designer” and the studio asks about your sound design skills, mention them. Don’t write that you have live sound mixing experience. At least not as your selling point. Yes, it is a nice touch, but the company is looking for a sound designer and not for a live sound mixer. People always say “I sent out hundreds of CVs and so far, no reply!”
Yes, hundreds of the same, generic ones. Don’t be that person. I know it requires some work up front to do these changes, but it will pay off later. So instead of sending 10 CVs a day, send two. Tailored and adjusted for the jobs you want.
For me, templates are the answer. I would have three main templates that I’d adjust every time I want to send an application out.
The three resume templates are:
Skill based CV will focus on your skill set. Write down what are you good at and why you are good at it. Remember that first you want to answer all the job requirements. Next are other relevant skills. A great portfolio is a must. Especially in sound industry. Have the portfolio ready online and include the link in your emails.
A work-based resume is a standard one. And usually the best choice. List your projects; you can do it by date or relevance. Project list should include where did you work and what did you work on. Include your responsibilities and skills you used for the job. And not just technical know-how. People skills are essential too. Communication, teamwork and good project management. These are the words all employers like to hear.
Education based can be the weakest one. Especially when you want to get into sound engineering world. Why? I don’t know if any of the people I worked with in post production had degrees in sound. But with twenty years of experience behind their belt, a piece of paper will not impress. If it’s your only option, make the best out of it. List your education but make sure to include what did you worked on. And why is it relevant to the job description. It would be good to mention all the extra projects that you did your free time.
And a strong portfolio will be helpful too.
Don’t write long lines.
Something that will catch the eye.
And will make it stop.
For a second.
Some people argue that paragraphs can work well too. But I say you should save them for the covering letter. When managers have a hundred resumes to go through, and it is almost lunch time, attention span is short. You have around 10 seconds before they move onto the next one. Don’t write long sentences and get to the point. Make it clear, easy to read and simple. Sometimes one word can be worth more than a hundred.
Covering letter, yes or no?
It is a tricky one, and it depends on the job offer. Did they request one? Then write a short, concise and personalised paragraph on why you are the best candidate. I’m not the biggest fan of covering letters as most of them sound the same. I asked my office manager what did she think about them.
“Keep it simple, keep it short. I don’t want to know your life story.”
So there you go. If you need one, write it for the particular job. Don’t use a template. Read it out loud a few times, make sure it flows. Again, someone will spend around ten to fifteen seconds on reading it. Make sure it is the most exciting ten seconds of their day.
Layout and graphic design
I’m big on design. My girlfriend is an excellent graphic designer, so I get a lot of good info from her. But let me tell you one thing. Most of CV designs that people sent to the studio where I worked were so bad that we usually run a contest for the worst one. We either got a Word document with bad formatting. Or something with too many graphics and colours. Do not complicate this one. Use one, maximum two colors. Have a beautiful header or a sidebar. Make it easy to look at and easy to read.
Don’t be a liar
It is that simple. Don’t lie on your resume. The truth will come out eventually. Today it is easy to check your background (thanks, the internet!). So be careful if you want to make up some education or past work experience. And when it comes to your skills, lying may get you the job but after one week everyone will see the truth. You can say you are still learning, or you are keen on extra free training or something. But don’t lie.
Email + attachments
The last point is more of a reminder for you. Make sure your email contains all your documents, CV and covering letter. Make sure you label everything in a transparent manner. Easy and straightforward to read. I don’t want to say a number, but one in ten job application emails is empty. And I don’t mean the text. People still write “Please find my CV attached.” and nothing.
I mean, come on. Check it twice, three times even. Just make sure that everything you want to send is there. Remember, there is no MAYBE folder. Only YES and NO. Work on you CV, make sure it’s perfect. And don’t skip the tip about reading the job description.
My girlfriend told me that once a girl had an interview at their workplace. She seemed nice; the interview went well too. But at the end when the boss asked her “So, do you have any questions?” she had one
“Uhm..I sent out a lot of job applications lately. Can you remind me what position we are talking about?”
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