Music Job Search Series: The All Important Resume

Creating a resume used to make me nervous.  I was always worried that I had left something out or had shared too much of the wrong thing.  I never felt like I had a happy medium until recently.  Now I am proud to share my resume and I wanted to help others feel that way, too.

First I started with a great template.  You can find them all over the internet these days.  I found mine in the templates section of Google Docs.  It gave me the fresh perspective that I needed to start plugging in my information.

A good template will have a prominent space to highlight your name and contact information.  Don’t forget to include your email address and your website or blog if you have one.  They are great places to highlight the details of projects you mention in your resume. 

After your contact information you want to collect all your resume information in one place to help make inputting a breeze.  Things to collect are information about your education, your previous employment, volunteer experience, and potential references with contact information.  You also want to be thinking about a profile or objective statement to summarize your employment interests.

Once all of your basic information has been gathered it’s time to plug it into your template.  The Circles Resume Template that I chose puts the headings in the following order:
Profile or Objective
Work Experience
Volunteer Activities

My suggestion to you is to fill in all the necessary information but leave the profile or objective last.  It helped me quite a bit to scan my information before I wrote that statement summarizing my qualifications and goals for employment. 

So let’s start with what you will list under the Education heading.  You want to list institutions attended and courses completed with the most recent first.  Make sure you include any specializations you gained from your studies.  For example, while in high school I completed an independent study in choral conducting.  These are the things that will make your education experience stand out.  This is also the place to list any independent music lessons and study you have completed.  You want to list the teacher, what instrument you studied and for how long, starting with the most recent.

Next you will need to list your Work Experience.  You want to start with the most recent position and work your way down including 10+ years of experience if possible.  List the company, your position title, dates worked, address and phone number of company, and details about the job you completed.  Be as specific as possible when you list the skills you attained from each position and completed tasks.  Use action words whenever possible like: created, performed, taught, researched, organized, planned, managed, implemented, coordinated, composed, lead, prepared, educated, assisted, etc.  And if you are currently in a position use the present tense to describe your work.   

Don’t forget to list your Volunteer Activities.  Quite a bit of experience and skills can be gleaned and highlighted from the volunteer work that you do.  I have been staying current in my field of church music ministry by volunteering at my local church while I do my job search.  You want to list these activities in the same way as your work experience.  Use action words here as well to describe your accomplishments and be specific. 

The next important section to work on is your References.  Most jobs ask for at least three references to be included with your resume but I have been asked for as many as five.  You need to have the name and title of the person that you have asked to be your reference as well as their most up-to-date contact information.  Include e-mails whenever possible, too.

Finally you want to tackle your Profile or Objective Statement.  This is the place where as succinctly as possible you want to list your goals for employment and highlight specific skills.  Tell your potential employer why you are passionate about your work and what you feel you are called to do.  As an example here is my profile statement:

I am passionate about sharing music with people of all ages. I am a professional musician, instructor, director and worship leader with 10 years experience equipping individuals, choirs and ensembles with the skills needed for music excellence. I am called to enrich people's lives with music and the arts while helping to foster and strengthen personal relationships with God through dynamic worship and fellowship.

Once you are happy with your resume and how it looks now it is time to proofread.  Ask a couple of your friends to read it over for you and give you feedback.  Check for spelling and grammatical errors and make sure it says everything you feel it should say in less than two pages, three pages when you count your references page.  When that final step is done consider posting your polished resume on any social networking sites you are a member of.  I chose to list mine on LinkedIn and Indeed.

Here are a few additional Resume Writing Resources that may give you inspiration.

Join me next week as we continue to explore my Music Job Search.  Throughout this series I will cover Job Searching, Resumes, Cover Letters, Additional Application Requests Specific to Musicians, Selling Yourself to Prospective Employers, and What to do While you Wait in the coming weeks.  See you next week for Cover Letters.


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