In a previous post on our Kennedy Violins blog, “How to Find Gigs: Musical Networking,” I talked about ways to make connections within a music community when searching for performance opportunities. Diving further into the networking process, I want to zone in today on a specific and powerful networking tool: the musician’s résumé.
DO I NEED A RÉSUMÉ?
Anyone and everyone looking for work needs a résumé, including musicians and performers. When you’re a student, you rely heavily on your transcript as a reflection of your accomplishments, but once you’ve graduated from high school or college, your work experience becomes the substance of your marketability.
A SENSE OF DIRECTION
Where do you start when drafting your résumé? The first step is not to focus on where to begin, but where you want to end up. Think about your direction, motives, and professional goals. What kind of work are you looking for?
If you’re primarily a performer looking for gigs, your résumé will highlight your performing experience. Or perhaps you are primarily a music educator looking for private students or a position as a professor, conductor, or school orchestra teacher. You may be interested in an administrative position with a music-related organization. There are so many different opportunities, so your résumé will target the type of employment you’re looking for.
WHERE TO BEGIN
If you’ve come down with a case of writers block before you’ve even started, here are a few ideas:
- Make a list of your career goals and the types of jobs/gigs you’re looking for.
- Make a second list of specific employers or companies you’re targeting. For example, if you want to play in a professional symphony, look up open positions first so you know your options. The music union (the American Federation of Musicians) is also a helpful resource for finding work opportunities.
- Make a third list of major experiences and jobs you’ve had in one column and your skills in a second column. Don’t think too hard, just free flow stream-of-consciousness-style, jotting down anything and everything of import in your life.
- Weed out the unnecessary. Underline or highlight the most significant information to include in your résumé. Make decisions about what information is important to keep by asking yourself whether or not your future employer would find it relevant.
- Work on your layout first, then fill it in. Sometimes its easier to fill in the blanks (perhaps in a template) rather than stuff your content into a layout later.
- Look for examples. Ask to read résumés by people you know or Google résumé examples, templates, and tips online.
FIND EXTRA HELP
Gleaning knowledge from other people can be extremely helpful as they offer you some extra perspective.
- Sit down with someone who knows you well to evaluate and point out the marketable skills you have that are apparent to them but not always to yourself.
- Meet with a professional adviser who can help you put together your résumé, review your current résumé, and offer editing suggestions.
- Meet with a professional who does what you want to be doing. Discuss your goals with someone who has achieved them. Someone experienced in your field is sure to have advice and direction to share.
GET READY TO BRAG
Creating a résumé is a chance to highlight your best. This is the magical opportunity to put your best foot forward, make a memorable first impression (without even being present!), and highlight your greatest achievements. Don’t be humble! Any relevant experience counts–even that one time you subbed with a specific orchestra or played in that masterclass you completely forgot about. Adding up all these details–even one-time experiences–will create a full and impressive résumé.
For information about specific items to include in your musician’s résumé, stay tuned for “The Musician’s Résumé – Part 2: Writing & Distributing.”