For my “day” job, I just spent three days working auditions for over 400 actors, who were seen by over 40 producing companies. While my job was more “meet and greet”, I had direct access to several headshots while I alphabetized them. In another part of my life, I had career services come in to talk to my students about resumes, cover letters, networking, and LinkedIn. And in a third part of my life (the writing part), I am working on websites, cards, social media profiles, and collateral materials, and carefully looking at how other writers handle their marketing persona.
Suffice it to say, I’ve seen quite a range of materials. I have run across, too frequently, materials that just miss the mark, which leads me to this post. Five steps for putting your best foot forward to people who don’t know you.
1. Details matter. If the standard size for a headshot is 8×10, it is 8×10. And your resume should fit on the back, and be trimmed. If you are asked to email a resume, save the PDF as YOURNAME.pdf. Sending resume.pdf isn’t helpful to someone downloading a dozen of them. Paying attention to these small but significant details do matter.
2. Neatness counts. In everything. If you are coming in for an audition, or an interview, dress for success. Even when the job is less formal (or perceived to be), first impressions matter.
And a coffee stain on your resume doesn’t bode well.
3. Even in a creative field, work within the norms. There are places for creativity, but your resume may not be one of them. Remember, your materials need to work for your audience. You may love your website, but if people have trouble accessing it, it doesn’t work. If your font is very small, and your audience is over 50, it doesn’t work. If someone is looking for “x”, don’t give them “y”.
4. Remember, it isn’t all about you, even when it is. Finding a job, networking, informational interviewing, auditioning, you are focused on you. But remember that you are speaking with a human being (in person or virtually), so ask how she is. Do some research for small talk. Remember that other people are a part of the conversation. And that being able to have a conversation is critical.
5. Follow through. Send a email thank you within 24 hours. Send a hand written note as well. Treat everyone you meet with the same level of politeness. And smile and say “thank you”. You would be surprised at how far these things take you.
What are some of your tips for success? How do you put your best foot forward?
J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes is a mystery writer.