Resumes and Curriculum Vitae (For the PA)

Bad-Resume

This article is going to focus on how to tailor your resume for a PRODUCTION ASSISTANT JOB in film or TV only.

What everyone says about this industry is correct — it really is  “who you know” — most of the time your resume is not going to factor into you getting a job. It is more of a formality, as the interview is what will land you the job… but sometimes the resume will land you the interview. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s start!

I was recently hiring PAs for a production office —  I would say about 2 out of 10 production assistant resumes didn’t immediately go into the trash pile. When hiring a PA, I only care about two things:

#1: Can you do your job.

#2: Can I stand to be around you for the length of this show.

People don’t give a shit about what your goals are. They don’t give a shit if you went to college. They don’t give a shit about your short film. All they want to know is — do you know how to be a PA?

Look at your resume. If any of this shit on there, take it off.

DON’T INCLUDE

  • Student Films
  • Unrelated Work Experience – No one cares if you worked at Starbucks — and don’t argue that it applies because you’re getting people coffee. If it’s not a job in the industry, take it off.)
  • Anything you Directed or DP’d or any High Level Sounding Job – Why the fuck are you applying for a PA position if you’re a director. No one cares.
  • Career Objective – No one cares.
  • Hobbies – Again, no one cares.
  • References – If they want a reference they’ll ask. 99% of the time they heard about you from someone else anyway.
  • Background – Don’t think the person hiring you, who has probably been working in a production office for longer than you’ve been alive, cares about your background. There is plenty of time for this type of conversation after you’re hired.
  • Interests – Definitely Not.
  • That you Wrote a Screenplay – Seriously, I’m looking at a resume right now where a PA lists a feature screenplay in his work experience. Dude, in what way do you think a Prod. Coord. hiring you to go pick up lunch gives a shit if you’ve written a screenplay?

Now, here is what your resume should include.

INCLUDE

  • Name and Contact Info – Email, phone number, home address.
  • Job History – Show Name, Position, Date of job (if you want), Production Company (this is where you can make it a little sexier by adding in WALT DISNEY STUDIOS or something).

That’s it. Anything else on your resume should go below those two things. Your resume should look like a list. Name and contact on top. Below just a list of all the jobs you’ve done.

Chances are you haven’t worked that much. If you need some padding see below:

PADDING

  • Schooling – No one really cares, but it doesn’t take up much room… and why else did you get a film degree if not to do SOMETHING with it… so put it on the resume. At the bottom.
  • Skills – A producer friend of mine says he likes it when skills are listed on a resume. It doesn’t take up much room. But it’s where you can list appropriate skills like Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite, Scenechronize, Final Draft, Final Cut, Avid… etc. This is more relevant for a non-set PA job. You can even put MAC and PC… If you know how to hook up network printers on Macs AND PCs you instantly become like a god-figure in the office. Same with knowing the ins and outs of how to use an iPhone ( a lot of technologically impaired people work in production).
  • Internships – Unlike student films and your own shorts, an internship can basically be a non-paid PA job.  Internship is an easily dismissible word, when the experience you gained shouldn’t be dismissed. I would just change the job title “internship” into whatever job you were doing  — Office PA, producer’s assistant, development assistant… Looks better and it’s basically the same exact job, you were just getting school credit instead of being paid.
  • Job Descriptions – You can add this stuff if you’re seriously lacking in things to put on your resume. Just a few bullet points under every job. Try to not be monotonous.

DESIGN

  • Make your resume clear and easy to read – You won’t believe how many people’s resumes look like a jumbled mess of text. Nobody wants to read — they want to SCAN! I should look at your resume and know in 1 second if I’m putting you in the consider pile or the trash. If I have to read too much… sorry buddy. You might now be thinking, “Why is this guy so lazy and disgruntled? He’s going to pass on a qualified applicant just because they have “too much text” on the page?” Dude … when you work in a production office hiring PAs, you literally have about 100 resumes to go through in an hour. I’m not reading your fucking wall of text. If it takes a wall of text for me to realize your talent, you’re doing it wrong. You get a quick glance.
  • Keep your resume ONE PAGE  – You’ve done 40 jobs? Pick the sexiest looking ones. I shouldn’t have to turn the page when looking through your resume. No seriously… keep it one page.
  • Portrait View – Seriously… a landscape resume? Don’t. Ever.
  • Make Font Bigger – A larger font is easier to read, and stands out more. Even just bumping the standard 12pt to 14pt is a nice touch.
  • A Little Color Never Hurt Anyone – Even using greys with black looks better than a simple black text resume, and it’s non-color printer safe.
  • Too Much Color Hurts Everyone – If it looks like a teletubby took a shit on your resume — I will burn it.

IN CLOSING

People in a hiring position only want to know that YOU know what you’re doing. And the best way to persuade them is by showing that you’ve done the job before. So if you’re looking for set PA work — stack your resume with Set PA jobs. They’ll take one look at it and see SET PA, SET PA, SET PA, SET PA. “Great! Bring ’em in for an interview.” If they have to navigate through your resume like pans fucking labyrinth — you’re on a fast track to the trash.

[UPDATE]

Download a simple PA resume template here!

12PTRESUMETEMPLATE082714-page-001Also check out:

16 thoughts on “Resumes and Curriculum Vitae (For the PA)”

  1. All great tips. When I was starting out, I found the “skills” portion particularly useful, because I acquired a lot of wacky skills that, every once in awhile, someone would contact me with, “we need someone who knows xyz to come in for a couple of days” and I’d come in, we’d get along, and I’d stay on past the time they thought they needed me.

    Being good to have around for long hours is vital. Once I started working exclusively in wardrobe departments, the PAs who were great to deal with getting the actors where they needed to be when, and the PAs who were great at wrangling the extras so I could actually get them in costume and onto set on time were invaluable.

    The ones with the ‘tude that they’re the next big director? Usually gone within a day.

    There’s always something to learn on any set, no matter how many other sets you’ve worked on.

  2. First of all, I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the stomach grabbing laughs I had. Also, for all the invaluable information you laid out; In which, you definitely put the P.A. resume formatting into perspective when creating it. This post was very much appreciated!

  3. Thanks for this template. Quick questions would you include dates for each job and would you list them chronologically or put more impressive jobs at the top?

  4. Hi,

    Great tips! I read this and thought my goodness and retyping my CV. Just following on your reply to Joe in regards to place impressive jobs on the top – I have had bosses going through my CV asking so what were you doing between this year and that year .. they seem to appreciate jobs in order by dates. Thoughts?

  5. @Gaby

    You definitely can order them by dates, but in my experience, anyone hiring a PA just wants to see that you’ve done the job before. If you don’t have any “sexy” job experience. Like working on a big feature or something, then ordering them by dates is totally fine. But if you’ve done something for ABC/DISNEY and any big name film or tv show, sometimes it’s more helpful to just put that shit at the top of your resume.

  6. I posted a comment on another page, and I just noticed these other comments…
    Coming from someone who have hired many PA’s and read about 100 resumes. Jobs should be put in date order. People want to know if you seem to be “progressing” in your career. Even if you did a huge 100 million dollar job in 2012, if you did low budget, short films since then, to me that would mean you are not very good. You could have been on that million dollar movie for a week and gained no experience.

  7. @Jennifer

    That is actually why I sometimes loathe the film industry. With having a viewpoint like that, you cannot assume that someone who worked on a huge feature and now does low budget films is bad. Maybe that is all the work they can actually find? Many times the economy could be bad and have them work such jobs. It tells absolutely nothing about their skills, unless there are some skills listed that the “hiring staff” may not think is good enough on their production. Simply, assuming is a horrible way to go. This is why most talented individuals are never seen.

  8. Hi . Thank you for making this website… Much appreciated. So quick question. I have experience being on set but as a talent. Have done music videos, commercials, TV shows and indie as well as studio films. I am in a small market so the TV & studio film credits have been under 10 lines. I want to get into the production end of the industry here in my market before heading to LA but have NO experience as a PA. Do you recommend I include the acting credits in my resume? just so they know I have been on a set before. I do have other work experience (mainly office) in other industries I can put in… Your expert advice would be greatly appreciated.

  9. @ Vivian — I don’t think putting acting on your resume would necessarily help you — but mentioning your on-set experience as an actor (observing the process) might help you in an interview for a Set PA job.

  10. Hi! I’m studying Law in Mexico, but I’ve always had an interest in the film industry.

    If i don’t have any experience where should I start? How can I get started?

    Thanks for the article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *