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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.