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How to Build your Resume for an Entertainment Career
Intro text for this blade (e.g., Looking to ascend the career ladder? Use our professional resume examples and tips for these common customer service career paths.):
Career Track: Cinematography
Cinematography requires strong technical knowledge about cameras, film and video production, exceptional communication skills, a thorough understanding of lighting techniques, and a flexible, creative approach.
Assistant Camera operator $54,570 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional
This job emphasizes skills over experience; a functional format allows you to list your skills out in separate categories such as practical skills (“ability to set up video and audio equipment” or “technical knowledge about camera operations”) and soft skills (“precise attention to detail” or “a creative eye for composition”).
Summary: Focus on mentioning your top intangible skills (e.g. “proactive” or “detail-oriented”) as well as your top work experiences so far. Consider mentioning key skills such as “skilled in studio and outdoor camerawork,” “knowledge of video editing software,” and understanding of digital cinematography.”
Skills to Feature: Mention your proficiency in technical areas of camera operations and film production such as “pulling focus,” “adjusting camera settings,” “knowledge of lenses” and “setting light and camera focus for various scenes.” Also include soft skills that underline you ability to collaborate with others, such as “detail-oriented,” “good-listener,” “flexible,” “patient,” and “keen learner.”
Go to the Next Level: The next step on the career ladder is usually becoming a camera operator. Work on these areas to get there:
- Bachelor’s degree with coursework in videography, television, or film
- Start building a portfolio of your work, especially projects that gain recognitions or awards.
- Gain more experience operating cameras in different settings such as studios and remote locations
Camera Operator $58,990 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
Use a combination format to highlight your technical skills as well as your relevant work experience. Focus on mentioning skills relevant to the job description such as “ability to frame camera shots for live studio or field productions,” “ability to multitask and work in a high pressure, fast-paced environment,” and “ability to carry up to 50 lb. cameras and tripods.”
Summary: Write two to three sentences that state your skills and work history. Mention the work accomplishments that make you stand out from the crowd, such as “worked successfully with several celebrities” or “commended by Head of Production for maintaining professionalism on the floor.” Highlight soft as well as technical skills that make you a suitable candidate for this position (e.g., “proactive approach,” “knowledge of traditional and digital film,” “lighting expert,” “footage archiving” and “strong on-set work ethic”).
Skills to Feature: Refer to the job description and look for words and phrases that align with your skills. For example: “ability to operate cameras for live and taped production,” “excellent technical problem-solving and troubleshooting skills,” “ability to shade/paint cameras and remote feeds,” or “creative visual skills, with an eye for composition, camera shading, and lighting.”
Go to the next level: With years of experience working behind the camera, you can become a full-fledged cinematographer. Gather these skills as you look to move up:
- Take on projects where you can showcase your ability to articulate a director’s vision
- Acquire further certifications or diplomas in film studies and production.
- Take on more responsibilities in managing other camera and crew members
Cinematographer $63,940 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
The chronological format highlights your work experiences and related recognitions (e.g. “Cinematographer of the Year award recipient”). Emphasize your accomplishments in previous projects, as well as specific duties that show off your range (e.g., filming in different formats or environments over different projects).
Summary: In a few sentences, present the abilities and specific experience that define you as a job candidate. For example: “Committed cinematographer who has worked with 7 different directors, displaying expertise over a wide range of genres”).
Skills to Feature: Enter only the most relevant skills in this section, featuring a combination of soft skills (e.g., ability to manage budgets and staff) and technical skills (e.g., “ability to utilize animation, live-action film and other media techniques,” or “in-depth knowledge of film-specific photography equipment”).
Go to the next level: With further experience in cinematography, you can become a director of photography or move up to a director position. Consider the following areas of development to reach these goals:
- Gaining more experiences working successfully in different genres
- Getting more involved with producers and directors in creative and production processes
- More experience running and guiding camera crews to excellent results
Career Track: Directing
Directing is one of the most crucial aspects of film making, and requires an understanding of every stage of the production process, including script development, working with actors, camera work, lighting, sound, design, and post-production. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job is expected to see 5% growth by 2028, which matches the average growth of other jobs.
Production Manager $45,292 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional
For this position, try the functional format, which emphasizes varied skill sets, grouped into technical skills (such as proficiency with budgeting and scheduling software) and soft skills (such as a strong work ethic, and effective communication skills).
Summary: To make your summary statement stand out, mention abilities you have that apply to what the job requires. For example, if the job calls for video production know-how, note this skill, e.g., “Seasoned Production Manager adept in all phases of video production.”
Skills to feature: Feature skills that show you’re proficient with technical matters but also have the personality to succeed such as “ability to multitask,” “excellent computer literacy,” “proficiency in Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro,” “knowledge about Studio Floor Camera,” and “excellent organizational and communication skills.”
Go to the next level: To advance your career, consider gain more expertise in the following areas:
- Getting a bachelor or advanced degree in filmmaking, Communications or Marketing
- Gain more opportunities to assist directors or producers on shoots that result in industry or public recognition
- Overseeing and managing interns and their daily activities
- Coordinating the schedules of crew members
Assistant Director $58,697 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
Use a combination format, which gives equal attention to your key skills and relevant industry experience. Provide a mix of practical and intangible skills such as “ability to work independently and as a part of a team,” “excellent project management skills,” and “proficiency in project management software.” In your work history section, show how you’ve met daily, weekly and monthly shooting targets in previous projects, or took charge of production and shooting guidelines.
Summary: Provide a concise overview of your work experience and accomplishments, as well as your defining characteristics as an assistant director. For example: “Hard-working assistant director with 5 years experience in meeting production budgets and successfully managing film crews of 50+ members.” You can also throw in some industry-relevant technical and soft skills such as “breaking scripts into story-boards,” “ability to multitask and delegate” and “excellent communication skills.”
Skills to feature: Review the job description for key phrases that align with your skills and mention them in the resume (e.g., “fully versed in media production,” “ability to work under pressure,” “in-depth knowledge about broadcasting and telecommunications” or “proficient with editing and post-production software”).
Go to the next level: With experience, you can progress towards a director, production manager or producer position. To get there, look to add the following achievements to your resume:
- Successfully supervise teams of second and third ADs and runners.
- Look for more opportunities to be fully involved in the full production process
- Coordinate with producers to consistently turn out quality work within budget constraints
- Look for opportunities to fully assist directors and exhibit exceptional behind-the-camera professionalism.
Director$104,600 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
Use a chronological format to elaborate on your work experience, placing particular emphasis on successful film projects that earned you critical kudos or audience recognition. Focus on experiences that show off your full range of skills, including collaboration with producers in selecting superior crew members and actors, providing guidance to the cast, and successfully collaborating with producers, talent agents and suppliers.
Summary: Make sure to present career highlights and specific skills that best align with what the production company is looking for. Highlight accomplishments such as “Best Director” awards, or short films that have been accepted to festivals. Quantify your work experience. For example: “Award-winning director with experience directing 12 commercials, 3 documentaries, and 5 motion pictures.”
Skills to feature: Browse through the job description, and take notes of key phrases that correspond with your skills such as “knowledge of filmmaking techniques,” “exceptional artistic vision and creative skills” and “ability to succeed under great pressure.”
Go to the next level: To advance in your directing career, look to add the following to your resume:
- More examples of films or shows you directed that have earned financial or critical success
- Highlighting your involvement in films, shows and videos that earn awards or recognition
- Taking more overall responsibility for projects, including collaborating closely with producers, or serving as your own producer
Recommended Entertainment Resume Templates
Recruiters spend less than a minute scanning resumes, so make sure your resume layout stands out, using some of these professionally designed templates:
This layout has an attention-catching design, “connecting the dots” of your career from your summary to section. Colored fonts for section headings draw recruiters’ attention to your important credentials.
As the name suggests, this layout creates an impact with its two-column design, while the colored headers make the document easy for recruiters to scan.
This template is divided into two columns that separate skills and the work history, with clean dividing lines ensuring good readability.
Entertainment Resume FAQs
1. How do you format your resume based on your career level?
Resume formatting largely depends on the work experience. Use the following rules of thumb:
Functional format: This resume format focuses on your skills rather than limited work history. It fits entry-level job positions, such as an assistant camera operator.
Combination format: This resume structure gives equal weight to your skills and relevant work experiences, and is a good match for those with a few years of industry experience, such as a camera operator or assistant director.
Chronological format: Arguably the most common resume format, the chronological resume places the most attention on your work history, and is best for those who can show years of steady career progress.
2. What are the qualities and traits employers are looking for in the entertainment industry?
Besides having a degree in a related subject such as Film or Mass Communication, employers prefer candidates who can work under pressure, multitask and manage long work shifts. They also look for people with great leadership and teamwork qualities, the ability to take initiative, and stick to production guidelines and budgets.
3. What skills should you include on your resume?
For this industry, consider using a combination of technical and soft skills like the following:
- Knowledge about different cameras
- Proficiency with editing software such as Final Cut Pro, Avid, or Adobe Creative Suite
- Strong work ethic
- Scripting and creating storyboards
- Communication skills
- Knowledge of lighting and set designing
- Organizational skills