Elements of Your Resume
The first thing your résumé must denote is who you are - literally. You have to clearly and boldly state your identity. Your name must be at the top. How big should you make it?
I recommend 14 to 18 point type if you’re using 10 to 12 point in the body of your résumé. Visualize twenty résumés on a table. If your identity is bigger than the rest, but not too big, you’ve got a little bit of an edge.
Should you use distinctive fonts? No. Often, when it comes to résumés, especially at larger companies like major record labels, your résumé will be scanned. And if you used a bizarre font called “Antediluvian,” your name may appear as a black splotch when scanned or faxed. So it’s good to rely on traditional fonts such as Times, Century, Courier, Helvetica, Arial, or Tahoma.
The job objective answers the question, what do you aspire to do? For instance, if an individual aspires to become an established songwriter, a good relevant job choice might be at a music publishing or performing rights organization in order to learn more about the business of songwriting. In this case, an effective job objective might be:
To obtain an entry-level position at a music publishing company to learn more about the publishing industry.
For someone looking to become an artist’s manager:
To secure an entry-level position at an artist management company.
And for someone wishing to be in the recording studio business:
To land an entry-level position in an established recording studio to expand my recording knowledge and skills.
Each example shows a solid job objective statement. Plus, you can adapt your objective from opportunity to opportunity. That’s the beauty of word processors. That’s why you have to keep your résumé ready to change or customize on a moment’s notice.
What if you don’t have a specific job objective yet? Then identify a segment of the industry that you have an interest in, such as A&R, sound reinforcement, or artist management, and start with that.
I believe it’s essential to list an objective on each résumé draft.
Doing so gives the résumé reader a sense that the candidate has a goal in mind. Submit a résumé without one and you will likely fail to get noticed, as your résumé doesn’t point out where you hope to head career-wise.
This part of your résumé gives you the opportunity to detail some of your accomplishments. Many people get intimidated when it comes to listing experience on their résumé. The simple rule of thumb on listing experience on your résumé is to emphasize your strongest accomplishments, no matter where you were employed. As your career evolves on the music industry path of your choice, your experience should reflect your career development in your chosen area.
How important is education in the music industry? Increasingly so. There are hundreds of schools and colleges that offer pre-professional training in the music and entertainment industry. Such training provides future employees with a basic understanding of the industry. Additionally, it explains how various market segments operate, such as the record industry, artist management, concert promotion, recording arts, not-for-profit arts administration, and the music products market segments. Studios, labels, management companies, record labels, and other firms that recruit entry-level employees rely on programs such as these to provide candidates with a rudimentary knowledge of the business. Completing a successful internship at a music or entertainment firm is another way to build your skills and knowledge and enhance one’s hireability.
When it comes time to start your job search, your educational background will definitely help you. What if you don’t have an education in the music or entertainment industry? It’s still important to list your educational qualifications. If you have a high school diploma, list it. If you took college courses but didn’t graduate, specify the general area of study and number of years or credits completed successfully.
Prospective employers want to know that you are literate. Remember that being able to read, write, and follow directions are important components of your marketable skill set. Documenting your education and background is important. Unfortunately, I’ve received far too many résumés that failed to list any educational accomplishments. That’s a mistake. Today, one must list some type of educational background to be considered seriously for almost any position.
Background and Interests
Why would you want to put these down on your résumé? Because more often than not, landing your dream job in the music business means building a rapport with the person who will hire or work with you. And if you have some common interests, be they antique cars, home-brewed beer, or cycling, it’s liable to not only go a long way by breaking the ice, but more importantly, separating you from your competition.
Background and interests provide an excellent means to differentiate you from the pack. Let’s say you have a huge album collection of a specific genre of music, and the label at which you’re applying is developing artists in that genre. You learned of the label through a few articles you discovered in Billboard or Spin magazine, so there appears to be a nice fit. Your interest in this genre of music may become a plus if you are applying for a position at that label.
Background and interests provide you with a chance to strike a chord with someone. Let’s say you’re into backpacking and the person who is interviewing you is also a backpacker. Backgrounds and interests allow you to differentiate yourself.
Personal interviews are often a bit like the start of a recording session with a new artist. You and your interviewer may be a bit nervous. Your interests may prove to be a good icebreaker. And the fact that you have some interests beyond your career goals is a healthy sign that you value a well-rounded life.
Avoid mentioning any interests that are highly charged, religious, or political in nature. Stick with pursuits and interests that do not offer any chance to upset a prospective employer. Be careful to never lie or invent any information on your résumé. Chances are it will come back to haunt you, and in some cases, may prove to be grounds for dismissal. Recent situations where CEOs of publicly traded companies have had to resign because they provided false information on their résumé point out how important it is to never lie or even ”stretch the truth” on your résumé.
Should you list character references on your résumé? The answer is no. You may, however, choose to add a line at the bottom: References available upon request. You must then remember to actually secure reliable references that will vouch for you, because they are likely to be called upon to do so. Who makes a good reference? Anyone with whom you have worked in a professional capacity. If your experience so far has been only as a student, use your instructors. If you’re really in a pinch, use anyone who knows you well, except for family. That’s the only taboo on references. Attorney, minister, former boss at the pizza parlor, those are acceptable, too. At some point, you’re going to need references, so start planning who will provide this important service for you and ask their permission to use them as a reference in your job search. Some interviewers don’t ask for references. Companies are starting to do so more and more often, especially for positions of responsibility. Another reason is that the cost of mis-hiring, that is, having to dismiss and then reopen the hiring pool, re-interview and re-hire another employee - has become substantial to all businesses.
Now you know the elements that make for a solid resume. Get started drafting your résumé now and be sure to share it with friends, family, and mentors - ideally with more experience than you so they can help you craft it into the absolute best document it can be to sell you to your future boss!
This article is excerpted with permission from “How To Get a Job in the Music Industry” by Keith Hatschek, © 2001, all rights reserved.