Author Topic: From the other side of the resume (low key rant - personal advice)  (Read 20718 times)

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MatthewShiner

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Just received about 40-50 responses for a series of job postings. 

Again, just giving my personal response from going through a lot of resumes.

1)   I know we have talked about this before, but be careful if you stray too far away from the industry standard resume.  It reads as inexperienced.

2)   If you cannot follow the instructions on how to apply (for example, how to submit the resume, who to send it to), it’s very hard to consider you for a position with in my team.

3)   Don’t just submit a letter of interest, send the resume.  It’s free.  If you just submit a letter of interest without the resume, you are adding a step for me – make it easier on the person doing the hiring.

4)   Include the cover letter in the e-mail, adding it as an attachment is just another step for me – make it easier on the person doing the hiring.

5)   Cover letters:  Short, sweet and to the point.  Don’t make apologies in your cover letter – if you can’t be confident enough to sell yourself on one page, don’t submit a resume.  Also, avoid getting cutesy with your cover letter. 

6)   If you are applying for an AEA Stage Management position, keep the cover letter streamlined and to the point; I don’t want to hear about 5 summers of scuba instruction.  (unless the show has scuba in it).

7)   Make sure you fit the basic requirements of the posting.  If I ask for dance experience, have dance experience.

8)   I am all for people trying to climb the career letter, but be careful about applying for a job that is way over you where you are in your career path.  I know people are looking for a break, but be careful about this backfiring on you.  For example, with three years community theatre experience, chances are you aren’t going to get that PSM gig on Broadway.  I never realized this before, because I have done this before (we all have done this before), but there is a certain air of nativity that comes off when you end up applying way over your experience. 

9)   I don’t mind if you have conflicts when you apply for a job – people have a life outside of work – but if the posting is for a limited time, please make a note of that in the cover letter, or at least in our first phone conversation – don’t wait until I get to the offer stage.  It will just make me upset.

10)   Although theatre is an artistic business, and I firmly believe that stage management is an art form, remember that you are applying for PROFESSIONAL position in MANAGEMENT.  :-) in cover letters is not acceptable.  Funny quotes may come off wrong.  I would much rather find a strong, professional candidate who wins me over with their personality in the interview, then see all fun and games on paper, and then have them try to win me over during the interview.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

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ScooterSM

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Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I might add a few additional:

1) If you are sending your resume as an attachment, please include your name (or part of it) in the file name.  If I have 15 Resume.doc files, I don't know which is yours.

2) Proof read, proof read, and proof read.  Then have someone else proof read...

3) Have an understandable, easy to identify email address.  Luv2StgMgr6987@email.com and prttyprncss69@email.com don't make you seem like the professional that I am sure you are.

 :) SSM
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

ReyYaySM

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What wonderful advice!  Thanks so much for this post. 

sievep

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This is a great thread, and Matthew, if you don't mind, I'd like to pick your brain on one or two things.. Of course anyone else who wants to throw in a comment is welcome to.

My question relates to section where you were talking about applying for jobs that are way over you in your career path.  Admittedly, we've all done this, and I guess I consider it to be taking a risk, and has on occasion worked out for me.   I suppose I worry about some of our novice stage managers becoming discouraged in their career paths (not by your post, but by questions and some degree of self doubt we all face at times in our career paths).  Do you think there's a good rule of thumb for what you should and shouldn't be applying for while trying to move up the ladder?  It also goes the other way . . .at what point should you stop applying for or accepting internships and decide to make a go of it?
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

Jessie_K

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On advancement.

Go ahead apply for jobs that are out of your league.  A take a risk, try to move up.  But be realistic.  Ask yourself if the tables were turned would you consider taking a risk on someone of your qualifications.

But if a job description states that you need a certain kind of experience (ex. dance) and you don't have any, you had better write a really good letter explaining what you HAVE done that can approximate or equal it.

Part of of being a good potential hire is good self-awareness.  It is not self aware to apply for a job if you are grossly under qualified.  It is subtle but important first step in me (as your potential boss) not trusting you.

Don't apply for a job that you won't do a good job at.

J

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What a great discussion. Thanks for starting this Matthew.

As I send out a lot of cover letters and resumes myself recently, I went into reading the post thinking, "Oh God, which one of these is me!" BUT---I found that the other great thing about the post is that, for some of us, we can read this and realize that we aren't necessarily doing things wrong!  It was reassuring to read it and be able to check the "NO" box for each of the resume/cover letter "concerns".

I was recently a PSM for a company and receiving cover letters quite often. I would stress again the following points and add a few new ones:

1) YES! PROOFREAD! My goodness, it's the first thing that turned me off to a cover letter, and I never gave them a second glance.

2) Don't include acting credits on the resume.  If you have experience as an actor, list it in special skills if you must, but including it on the resume makes you seem unfocused.

3) Do not include a headshot. There's no need. I don't think I know of any SMs who hire based on appearance!

4) The resume should be clear and easy to understand. There are plenty of examples on this website. It's another thing that immediately turned me off to applicants. I wanted to be able to look at the resume and immediately know what the person has done.  Don't mix in stagehand work, assistant directing work, etc.  If you feel you must include that, put it in a separate column. I would warn that undergrad professors may not always suggest the best format for a stage manager resume. Do your own research and find what seems best.  When I was in undergrad, my resume was very different, and when I entered the world, I found that it was actually very wrong!

5) And finally, cheers to having an email address that is professional and easy to type/remember!

megf

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Speaking as a person who sends way more resumes than she receives -

How do you feel about the references that come with the resume? This is a broad question - let me clarify where I'm coming from:

I'm in the process of making the switch into TV from live theater, and while there is a lot of common ground in my city as far as who works in what industry, the "ranking" SM types (or their names, in this case) in theater don't necessary register with HR/production staff in television, which means a lot more work for them in the early stages of the interview process. For those on the hiring side of this discussion, what approach on the part of the interviewee would make your work easiest in this kind of situation? I've tried to tailor cover letters to address this industry gap, but hate to presume too much about the person who sees my application. Pending current projects, I may be able to swap out some of my references for TV names, which would help ease the change, but at present there is still room for awkwardness when the names don't indicate anything to the interviewer.

So what I'm really asking is this: when reviewing resumes, if you come upon an application that is clearly from a parallel business outside the theater, do you expect the cover letter to deal with the obvious career change? To what extent to you expect the letter to clarify the applicant's disposition?

Thanks!

MatthewShiner

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Quote
Do you think there's a good rule of thumb for what you should and shouldn't be applying for while trying to move up the ladder?  It also goes the other way . . .at what point should you stop applying for or accepting internships and decide to make a go of it?

My thoughts are this,  you should always continue to apply up the ladder, but do some one or two rungs above where you are . . . interning now, go to being a PA,  then PA on a bigger theatre, then asm, then asm at a bigger theater, etc, etc.

I think you should do maybe one or two internships at most - this is a job, and you should be paid for it.  It's amazing, when you make this career your only income source, you will work very hard at finding a job that pays.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

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sievep

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Don't mix in stagehand work, assistant directing work, etc.  If you feel you must include that, put it in a separate column. I would warn that undergrad professors may not always suggest the best format for a stage manager resume. Do your own research and find what seems best.  When I was in undergrad, my resume was very different, and when I entered the world, I found that it was actually very wrong!

Justin, forgive me for quoting you on this, but I think this brings up a point that I've heard both sides of, and might be worth discussing a bit.  In undergrad one of my professors told me NEVER to put anything but SM experience on a resume . . .as I've gone on to become a professional I've found it actually neccessary to put certain other experiences on a resume.  If an employer asks for experience with human flying and automation, I put down (in a "Related Experience" category) the flying work I've done as an operator and my automation experience as an operator.  In opera, the Assistant Director is an extension of the Stage Management team, and I think is relevant experience in an opera Stage Management resume.

Again, not "Right" or "Wrong" but as Mac pointed out to me last week tailoring your resume to the task, and to the employer, may serve as better advice than absolutes.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

J

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I should have been more clear in my original posting. If it relates to SM work, by all means, it should be on the SM resume (I've Production Managed for a company, and that's on the resume). I think things like run crew, production management, and company management are fair game.  However- as a reader of resumes, it is much easier to read the resume if those "related" credits are under a separate catagory, as you suggested.  It's the actual mixing in of the credits that gets confusing to read. 

Example of the mixing in:

Jesus Christ Superstar .......  SM........ Theatre Playhouse
A Midsummer Night's Dream... Props Master.... The Theater Theater
Oedipus Rex....................... ASM ..............Classical theatre center
Christmas Carol...................SM ................Christmas Theater Co.
Aladdin..............................Run Crew.........Children's Play Co.

With this format, it's very confusing to read.  Where did they SM, where did they do run crew.  Your eye really has to study the resume...and if you want to know how many SM credits are actually on the resume, you have to count.

Example of how it's MUCH easier to understand:

STAGE MANAGEMENT
Jesus Christ Superstar .......  SM........ Theatre Playhouse
Oedipus Rex....................... ASM ..............Classical theatre center
Christmas Carol...................SM ................Christmas Theater Co.

RELATED EXPERIENCE
A Midsummer Night's Dream... Props Master.... The Theater Theater
Aladdin..............................Run Crew.........Children's Play Co.


I hope this is clear.  I just think that mixing it in causes the reader to have to search quite a bit for the SM credits, whereas separating them makes it clear that they have a lot of SM credits but also can do other things if necessary.  And the SM credits should definitely out-weigh the Related credits. It wouldn't be a very good sign if most of the credits weren't SM.

Also, I think that mixing also sometimes gives the signal that the SM doesn't have much experience, and has to add other things in as "filler" on the resume. Novice SM's will have the problem of not having enough credits, but that's a battle that we all go through and could be an entirely different Posting.

A final note on this is that it sometimes seems that credits on the resume other than stage management can make the applicant look undecided on a career path. (I even wonder about this with my Production Management credit from time to time!)  Especially acting credits and directing credits (not including AD credits in the opera world)--those can be scary, mostly because it gives the signal that the person wants to direct or act as well, and as a stage manager, those duties are not what we're supposed to be focused on.  I'm sure it's happened a million times out there, where a SM wants (in their heart) to act or direct, but stage manages instead, and somewhere in the process they get muddled and start having the urges to talk to actors about character or give suggestions for direction. This can lead to trouble.

Anyway, long post for a short clarification, but there you go!

DeeCap

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I can't say enough about proof reading before sending out.

Oh, and if you feel the need to name drop big celebrity names in your cover letter, please spell the name right. I had one cover letter that spelled Robert De Niro two different ways.

stagemonkey

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Justin,

My resume is very much broken down the way you suggest, I changed it that way a while back when I looked at it and was like "whoa where are my stage management stuff thats what they want to see."  But going off your last post I need to extend another question to you and others.

So My resume starts with a list of Stage Management credits then has another heading for Related Experiences (mostly various crew work).  My question I want to put out there is what kind of crew experiences do people see as worthy of mentioning?  Under stage management I list: PSM, SM, ASM, and SM intern, under related experience I have things like: electrician, carpenter, stagehand, rigger.  I know a Production Assistant (the job I have now) kinda ties more into stage management but at the same time seems more like a crew position where do others feel PA should be listed under.   

Also as those first 2 categories on my resume lists individual shows I also feel its worth noting my work in college as the Production Manager for a campus organization that brought in various concerts and theatrical events as I feel that kinda work reflects well on my skills.  Is this just something I should but after the list of shows just saying "Production Manager - College Organization - and dates." 

J

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Again, all of this is simply my opinion and preference.  Others may have different views, but here's mine. 

If it were me, I would list crew work that only relates to stage management on a Stage Management resume.  These could include PAing (as you mentioned), props crew, stage hand, etc.  I would not include rigger, electrician, carpenter as credits. I would, however, list them under a Special Skills section, where you could say "experience in lighting, rigging and carpentry" and then also list your other special skills as well.  It goes back to something I mentioned earlier.  When listing those as actual credits, it could make the applicant seem unfocused.  I received this advice from a friend whom I trust when I left school, and I still hold to what she said today. If you're applying for a job at a theatre as a stage manager, they need to know that you want to be a stage manager and not an electrician.

In regards to your second question--On my resume (and again, this is just my preference from messing with it for years) I list my SM credits (Show/Position/Director/Theatre, Location) under the section STAGE MANAGEMENT.  Then, under the section RELATED EXPERIENCE, I list my production management credit in the following way (Position/dates/Theatre, Location). Granted, it's not the same format as the SM credits, but it seems to work and the resume still looks clean and easy to read.

I hope that answers your questions. (at least, my opinion of the answer!)

stagemonkey

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I find the best way to tailor my resume into what I feel works well for me is to always keep hearing others opinions and take what I like, so thank you.  Which brings up another question.  In an effort to get more experience an up and coming stage manager will often apply for run crew positions.  When submitting a resume for say a stagehand position obviously you want to list all previous stagehand jobs, but the question is what other types of credits do you feel look good on that resume.  I'd ask the same for  PA position. 

J

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I think on especially run crew work, listing any and all technical theatre work would be a benefit. On PA work, I think the same as SM resumes.  But I don't have experience in either so I'm speaking from instinct only.

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