David Greenberg shares tips from his experience as Director of Marketing for Ted Kurland Associates, a boutique booking and management agency where Berklee interns gain insight into a successful career in music and business.
As you may have caught from last week’s bloggette, I’m not one for resumes. For myself, that is. Since I don’t do the hiring here at TKA, i’m not an aficionado of the form, which I find cold, uninspiring, and extremely hard to finagle a good portrait of anyone on that one page. Trying to do that kind of distillation really depresses me, but it does fill a need when trying to whittle down a stack of potentials into an afternoon’s worth of interviews—which is when I get a better feel for the student and their ability to learn, as well as their enthusiasm, attitude, intelligence, and effort. (You might remember those qualities from last weeks bloggette, as cribbed by me from Mitchell Corton, Director of Sales for Compuware/Gomez).
Whittle down is probably being a bit too coy. When I sent along my resume for a potential web job for the BSO, there were weeks of nothing and I was sending it through a close friend of the BSO’s Director of Marketing. A direct call was made even to back up the reccomendation. The reason for the lag? My resume was placed in the stack of over 1000 sent in through Monster.com. There is no way to whittle down that kind of stack and still do your day job. As the BSO didn’t have to hire anyone right away, they left the pile as it was. I had to call them to find my resume in order to have a one-on-one. All that competition out there is yet another reason to make damn sure your resume AND cover letter is all that it can be; and contains no extraneous info, glaring omissions, nor spelling mistakes.
Starting way back in my seemingly-long career, I inserted quippy little comments into the bulleted text. One, to see if anyone was paying attention, and two, because I was also trying to get copywriter/screenwriter work and thought that quips would get me in the door—I wrote with restrained glee. Don’t try this one at home kids. I don’t have the ROI data to back up that it worked for me. A teleplay rewrite job for 3-2-1 Contact may have been eased my way from the resume, though, undoubtedly my writing samples held more weight. My latest excursions in trying to plot my wayward career is chock-a-block full of what you should not do on paper. You can see them on my Facebook or LinkedIn pages. I’m not looking for work and I love to write. So there.
Though, for the first hike around Manhattan groveling to get gainful employment, I had to have your average looking resume. By the time I had graduated from Ithaca College (1978 BS Communications, Anthropology Minor, and, ahem, magna cum laude), there were a few professional credits under my belt, and on my resume. In case anyone was interested I carried a 16mm reel of my senior project, The Prune Commercials at the ready. I handed out 100 plus resumes to anyone remotely producing films or creating advertising before I landed my first job in the fall after a full summer of looking. Maybe two screenings of the flick. That’s the pre-internet slog of having to show up at an office, repeat your spiel to an uninterested receptionist, and move on.
Don’t try this alone and go about building your perfect resume in the proverbial dark. Get some help. For interns, we usually have a workshop here to review resumes and cover letters with Laurel Wicks, our VP of TKA’s Domestic Division. Laurel hires our entry-level positions (and before you zip me your material, yes, we have NO open positions!). Over the years she has seen more than her fair share of resumes, so she can cut to the quick on what is wrong with them.
Spelling counts, by the way. One intern misspelled Laurel’s name in a cover letter. We have a website, it’s perfect there. The receptionist can spell it as well. Research! While this was for a workshop, she does do the hiring and has hired from our past crews of interns, so misspelling her name isn’t a great first impression. Take a fine-tooth comb to your materials, have someone else go over them to check for misspellings; ESPECIALLY words that sound alike that go through spell check but are not interchangeable, like wear, ware, or (as someone wrote me) duel major instead of dual. That might have been a bit of a slip a la Freud as her majors were at either ends of the spectrum; Cello performance and Marketing/Communications, but poetry is not allowed in resumes, and neither are TYPOS. Either one and you’ll be relegated to the NOT! pile.
For her workshops, Laurel found two good handouts on resumes and interviews that we hand out before the workshop (both of which give some great pointers on spiffing up those pieces of paper), outlining what mistakes are often made by job seekers, and how to “ace” the interview. You can download a PDF of those items here. This once-over look-see of your resume and cover letter should not be a secret ingredient of our program here at TKA. You should be able to get a similar review from the hiring manager wherever and whenever you intern. By the way, right there on campus, The Berklee Career Development Center is available to help with resume reviews for you — get on down to the CDC on Tuesdays 10-11am and 2-3pm. The more input you can glean, from the professionals, with these important pieces of paper, the better.
A few good pointers from those who have been seeking work, or those employers who have sought the seekers.
If you have a wide range of experience and interests and really could do a few different jobs at a company, don’t tell them that. Slim it down. Most companies do not want a jack-of-all-trades. Have different resumes for different positions. I find larger organizations want a specific person with exact qualifications, while smaller organizations are usually short-staffed with many multi-taskers, which is why I didn’t get the BSO position; their web dude wanted someone who not only was a web guy, which I was coming out of the ill-fated iCAST.COM, but who also knew PHP scripting language, no ifs ands or buts, like mine; “but, I could learn it.”
Ex-TKA intern, Juliana French Arnold has suggested including specific qualifiers about your work. Juliana is a Public Relations Specialist with a large winery in Northern California. Which one? How large? Read on, as she told me; “Instead of just saying I work for Trinchero Family Estates, I should put in my resume ‘I work for Trinchero Family Estates, the fifth largest wine company in the U.S.’ Another example, is ‘I work on 25 wine brands” or ‘I manage of budget of $xx,xxx.’ This gives weight to your position and your place of work.”
Another former intern, Aaron Kaplan, a recent grad from BU and now applying to graduate schools in Musicology, thought applicants should try to trim down all those extraneous jobs they have had since high school; it’s not advantageous to list everything; “I think it is more important to list your most important jobs and describe them, even if you have to leave out other previous positions. Work hard on how you describe the job responsibilities to make them fit with the job you are applying to. It is also important to list any specific skills or computer programs you have worked with, for I think employers like to see this.”
He’s right, at least with those a few employers I asked for this bloggette. Deborah Klein, Artist Manager at Prospect Park Management out in Los Angeles, gave me a few tips. (Prospect Park also has NO openings at the moment. I checked. They do take interns though.) Here’s Deborah’s top three; “Technical skills and a list of the programs that they can use and not just some vague social networking skills. School and GPA: I want to know if the kids are smart and a high GPA also makes a difference to me. AND…only relevant work experience, if you worked at McDonalds, I don’t want to know about it.”
Justine Ferland, General Manager of Ralph Jaccodine Management handles all the hiring, interviewing and supervision of their interns. Some of what she’s looking for are specific to the needs of her office: like writing experience; previous office/administration jobs; and since she is looking for interns with writing abilities…Is that cover letter well written with some specific references as to why someone would want to work for RJM?
Most intriguing to me is Justine’s review of personal references. Most professionals in the resume business wave away adding your references there in print. Even the download you can nab from me, up above, highlights in yellow marker (so it must be important!) that you should not even have the “references available upon request” blurb on your resume as that is kind of a “doh!,” obviously you’ll provide them. But Justine takes a different tact, and in these days of many overly-qualified prospects, justifiably so: “I look to see if they have included references. I don’t contact references until after an interview, but if they’re included, that says to me that these individuals are seriously pursuing a position and doing everything they can do be prepared. They have taken the extra effort and asked people if they will provide a reference. If I have two resumes that are equal and one supplies references, I will go with that person every time!”
Which is a good thing to know, as you need all the special ammunition in order to move from the stack of NOT! to MAYBE?
After it’s all spiffed up, get that resume online at LinkedIn. Obviously, first you need to get LinkedIn. Throughout my career I have made more than a few acquaintances in various businesses and in a lot of different fields, or my friends from High School have landed in some pretty cool spots, not that you could have even been able to guess it about them when they had long hair and affected the cooler-than-thou-looks that are oh-so-preciously-outdated now. You don’t know who I know until you get LinkedIn to me. That goes for anyone else you can hook up with there; friends, family, bosses, work partners, your auto mechanic, who, by the way may work on the car of a guy or gal you may want to know in the Biz and said mechanic can help you get your foot in the door with that perfect resume you’re working on. You never know.
LinkedIn is also a good place to start looking for that special someone to have that informational interview with; the interview, as you read last week, you better be going on sooner than later.
Extreme thanks to two past interns from Berklee, Linus Wyrsch and Anna Pavlova who suggested TKA initiate the resume/cover letter workshop with our Agents, after going through something similar at Berklee. Deborah Klein is a graduate of Emerson and one of her first artists was the mighty and majestic, Morphine, who inhabited Boston in the 1990s, as did she. If you don’t know any music by Mark Sandman and freres, waste not one minute and check them out now!
For more in this series, see:
David Greenberg is Director of Marketing and runs the internship program for Ted Kurland Associates, a boutique booking and management agency located in the Allston environs of Boston, MA with the zip code of 0-2-1-3-4. (You could sing it if you ever saw the WGBH show (ital)Zoom.) His background in this industry of entertainment has been varied, (some say excessively variegated) best read on his Facebook or LinkedIn pages. A tidbit: starting out in the film business and getting a bit up past the bottom rungs, he was dismayed to see one of his high-school classmates appearing, with a toothsome smile, on the cover of People Magazine as a star of the, then, hit show Dynasty; said ex-classmate was obviously not living in a fifth-floor walkup and not cooking his dinner that night in a overly bright kitchen that held a cranky gas stove, an ancient slop sink and a bathtub, all within a few inches of each other.
Biz Links Website: tedkurland.com / Twitter: tedkurland / Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ted-Kurland-Associates/88827500905 / Personal Twitter: @tapedave
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