"As technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse." So says Creative COW leader and Contributing Editor Walter Biscardi, one of the industry's most respected business owners. "The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't."
You definitely don't want to miss this potentially career-changing advice from an industry luminary!
A pile of resumes at my company showed me that as technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse. The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo. This is the world of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc..... where everything is said in 140 characters or less, with a heavily treated photo and no attenshun givun 2 correct grammar yo! Seems people have forgotten how to represent themselves professionally for that all important "first impression." Or maybe they were just never shown at all.
You never, ever get a second chance at a first impression. For most of you, an email with a resume attached is that first impression.
There are two VERY important things to remember in the creative field.
1: You have to be talented at what you do or show a very strong drive to better the talent you currently have. 2: You MUST fit in with the creative culture of the company you're joining. In my opinion, #2 is more important. We get a sense of how you're going to fit from that initial contact. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't.
Is your Email Address Professional?
Your email address makes a statement, believe it or not. When your contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com...... Well, you come across as arrogant, an escort, irresponsible and quite simply, a turnoff from the employer side.
Those email addresses that are so "fun" and "cool" with your friends can paint a completely different picture when you're in the professional workplace. The addresses can give the employer pause as to whether you can be professional in the workplace. This might seem unfair, but first impressions are everything, especially when you're being compared to dozens, 100, 1000 or more people applying for a single position.
I'm not saying ditch your personal email address for all your friends, but get a new one for your professional communications. Obviously, just keeping it as simple as your name is a great way to go but if your name isn't available, add a descriptive like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. This applies to freelancers as well.
Pay Attention to Detail
Generally, a job description tells you enough details to give you a sense of how to contact the business. Send your materials to the right person. Send materials to the wrong person and right off the bat, you failed Hiring Test #1. It's honestly that simple from the business standpoint. This is such a simple detail, if you can't follow this simple direction, you're at the bottom of the pile.
Show Me the Skills
Our recent job position was for a Video Editor. So knowing that, don't send a two page resume with video editor as the very last thing on page 2 or a resume that doesn't include video editor at all. What that tells me is you feel much more confident in the other abilities you're listing rather than your video editing ability. If you're applying for a specific skill, play up THAT skill in your resume / reel / materials.
And by the same token, don't let a lack of "professional experience" discourage you from applying for a position if you feel you have good basic skills and a passion for the job. I've hired several people for jobs with little "professional experience" but had really good storytelling skills on their reels.
A multi-page resume is not going to impress the employer any more than a well written, well organized single page resume. Just because you've worked on over 100 projects in the past two years doesn't mean you need to list every single one of them individually and every task you did on that job. Tell me the most important reasons why I should consider you in a single page, include a second page for specific awards / projects if necessary, but again, keep it concise.
Along the same lines, most people no longer include a cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to show your passion and your knowledge of the profession and job in general. A well written cover letter along with a concise one sheet resume really makes you stand out.
Keep It Clean
Create a clean layout for your resume and cover letter. Flourishes like colored fonts, "cool fonts", huge text headers, film reels in the letterhead and an overall sloppy appearance just doesn't help your cause. A clean, professional resume layout is not rocket science, there are examples just a simple Google search away. So forget making your resume "look creative." Make it look clean, sharp, easy to read and save your creative work for the text and your samples.
Everything I've touched on above gives me, as an employer, an initial impression on how you might fit in with my creative team. As most creative facilities are somewhat small, generally 30 people or less, it's generally more important how you mesh with the rest of the team vs. just having the best skill set. So how you represent yourself in your first contact with the company is a first example of how you might represent yourself with both the team and clients.
As I said at the top, this should be common sense, but our recent job posting seems to suggest otherwise. Best of luck to all of you on your future endeavors!
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Principal, Biscardi Creative Media
Executive Producer, MTWD Entertainment
Executive Producer, Our Story Media