Shelley's Guide to
Technical Theatre Résumés:
The first two installments of this essay examined rules and layout structures for résumés. This installment will analyze the presentation and delivery of a technical theatre résumé.
• Don't include your résumé in the body of an e-mail. All formatting is lost, and it looks amateurish.
• When attaching a résumé to an e-mail, convert it to a PDF file. That way it can't easily be changed. As important, the "look" of the special font, which may be unique to the candidate's hard drive, will be included.
• Title the document with your name, not just "resume. PDF." On the average, I receive five e-mailed résumés a week. When they are all titled "resume. PDF," I then have to open them, read each name, and re-title.
• Get an e-mail address that looks and sounds professional like your name, not something like FluffyBunny@cutsiepooh.org.
• Address the letter to the person who is doing the hiring. If the name is unknown, do the research. It is much better than "To Whom It May Concern." Check their title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) and the spelling of their name.
• Write in original words; don't copy and paste from a form. Potential employers are looking for knowledge, enthusiasm, focus, and commitment.
• Check the spelling for the hiring organization. Research the organization to make a statement that shows the letter is not just a response to an ad.
• The cover letter should be one page of three or four brief paragraphs:
• First Paragraph: Answer the reader's question, "Why am I reading this?" Note any connection such as, "Patrick suggested that I contact you regarding…" Note the job applied for.
• Second and Third Paragraphs: Describe strengths and skills and how they apply to the position sought. Highlight a relevant job or an experience that tested these abilities and describe how the challenge was met.
• Rather than "I will wait for your call," indicate that a call or e-mail will follow to check on the status of the application. Arrange a meeting if that's appropriate.
Sometimes it seems like résumé writing and updating never ends. Update one, create a new one, and so on. Résumé-writing in itself is a skill that is developed and refined over an entire career.
Remember, too, that the résumé is not only a representational tool; it can often be used as a conversation starter. When it's appropriate, talk to potential employers and ask them to critique the résumé. This tactic may reveal other methods and opinions about résumés that may be more suited to you. In addition, speaking to potential employers in this more relaxed atmosphere may be just as beneficial as a formal interview.
At the beginning of a career, there's never enough text to fill the page. There will always be the temptation to include everything possible in order to visually fill the space on the page. Don't give in to this inclination. Just present the information in a clear, concise layout. The fact that the résumé isn't filled with unnecessary bulk may help it stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Finally, though it's frustrating to constantly rewrite a résumé while looking for jobs, keep in mind that no one is irreplaceable. We all have to rewrite our résumés and keep them current because, eventually, we all need them again.
Steven L. Shelley has designed lights, managed productions, and toured for over 35 years. In the last year, he has worked for Patti LuPone, Paul Winter, and the Spoleto Festival USA. He is the designer of the plastic Field Templates and the VectorWorks toolkit SoftSymbols, available at www.fieldtemplate.com. He is author of A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting. He can be reached by e-mail at shelley @fieldtemplate.com.
Sample Cover Letter for an Arts Position
Are you applying for an arts-related position? A cover letter is an important piece of the on-paper first impression you'll give a potential employer. More importantly, it can provide a space to highlight details of your experience and special skills that might not be included in your resume.
What you include in your cover letter will be dependent on the open position and your unique background. If you're up for a position in the arts such as a studio assistant, your cover letter should include information relevant to the position.Take the time to personalize your letter so it shows the employer why you're a strong match for the job.
To get started, below is a sample cover letter for an arts position as well as a list of in-demand arts skills to include in your cover letter and resume.
Sample Cover Letter for an Arts Position
We now live in the digital age, so when emailing your cover letter and resume, list the position and your name in the subject line of the email (e.g., "Studio Assistant - Your Name"). You can use the body of the email to jump right into the salutation and letter.
If you have the opportunity to deliver a hard copy of your cover letter or have chosen to attach a PDF to your email, you should follow the more traditional format, which includes your contact information, the date, and the contact information for the hiring manager or person to whom you are writing at the top. Consider the sample arts position cover letter below:
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
The description you posted for a studio assistant parallels my interests and qualifications perfectly.
With my background in art and psychology, I am confident that I would make a very successful and creative studio assistant.
Having worked for the non-profit organization CountyArts, I have been exposed to a number of aspects of the art world. My experience as an artist assistant at the Museum of Art demonstrates my capability of working with others through the creative process of production while meeting the challenges presented to me.
Also, my education in psychology has allowed me to learn the nuances of people and has provided me with good investigative and analytical skills that will suit your needs for customer assistance.
I would appreciate the opportunity to make a substantial contribution by exploring the business of applied art through your design firm.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my candidacy and will call next week to see if we might arrange a time to speak. Thank you for your time and consideration.
In-Demand Skills for Arts Careers
When applying for a job, it's best to have a clear idea of the skills the employer is seeking in a candidate and highlight how you can meet and exceed those expectations. But when a job description is unclear, it can be helpful to have a list of in-demand skills to reference when writing your cover letter.
Here's a list of the skills that employers seek when hiring for jobs in the arts. While required skills vary by job, many positions in the arts require shared skill sets. Highlight the skills you acquired during your studies, internships, and jobs held in your cover letters, resume, and job applications.
- Advocating for the Arts and Artists
- Aesthetic Sensibility
- Analyzing Legal Issues Impacting the Arts
- Analyzing Management Problems within Arts Organizations
- Analyzing Public Policy Issues Related to the Arts
- Appraising Artwork
- Arranging Displays
- Artistic Judgment
- Attention to Detail
- Audience Development
- Building Relationships with Patrons of the Arts
- Composing Publicity Announcements and Press Releases
- Coordinating Tours
- Coordinating Volunteers
- Critical Thinking
- Critiquing Artistic Expressions
- Delivering Presentations
- Developing Budgets
- Employing Fundraising Strategies
- Evaluating the Financial Status of Arts Organizations
- Identifying the Preferences of Specific Constituents of the Arts
- Instilling an Appreciation for Art
- Microsoft Excel
- Outlining Strategies for Marketing Artistic Entities
- Planning Events to Advance the Agenda of Arts Organizations
- Preparing Presentations
- Producing Publications for Artistic Entities
- Promoting Artists and Entertainers
- Proposing Solutions for Organizational Problems at Arts Entities
- Providing Constructive Criticism
- Receiving Criticism
- Recruiting Volunteers
- Securing Corporate Sponsorships
- Social Media Marketing for the Arts
- Ticket Sales
- Time Management
- Training Docents
- Verbal Communication
- Working Independently
- Writing Essays
- Writing Funding Proposals
- Writing Research Papers
- Writing Reviews of Exhibits and Performances
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