By: Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato
We’ve been getting a lot of questions and requests for help with writing a resume. There are many resources out there from school and career counselors, to virtual guides online. A basic google search will give you a ton of information and guides: “How to write a resume.”
These are good starting points but many times you will find that the standard resume doesn’t always work so well in our business. We’ve talked to a few of our friends in various areas of the world of audio to see what they look for in a resume and potential employees. Much of this applies to live sound, but it should give you an idea of a basic outline.
Before you start writing the resume, you need to be clear on what your goal is. Know what type of position you are applying for and with whom you are applying.
Are you after an entry-level position at a sound company or recording studio? Are you looking for a mixing position with a touring band or at a venue? “If one is looking at an early career stage to mix asap, a sound company may not be the best choice, however, band managements, booking agents or just pursuing a local scene might get you there sooner. In most touring sound company’s, mixing opportunities can build over time. If working for a company is your goal then understand what the company is looking for and learn about that company prior to sending a resume.”
“I always tell candidates that if they desire to work for a Sound Company then do so for the opportunities you feel it offers your goal driven desires, look at growth opportunities. One should consider this, Sound Company’s that target touring work are going to have Touring Artist relationships. That part is a given, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the focus of one’s desire to work with a Sound Company. One must think of how the company path is either the best path forward or not. That decision separates those who stay independent or find full-time employment. If an entry-level position with a Sound Company is desired, be prepared to take on the tasks required to become acclimated to both the shop and road operational aspects of the company and be open to learning.”- Leon Hopkins, Clair Global.
You should start off with your name and contact info prominently at the top of the page.
You should try to keep your resume to one page plus a cover letter. Employers regularly get tons of resumes to sift through. If they can’t figure out who you are and what you know by the time they get to the bottom of that page, they’re not going to move on to the next page. As your work experience and list of credits grows you will find it difficult to keep things to one page but at that point it won’t be an issue.
Skip the “Objective”. Unless you are applying for an entry-level position at a record company and will take any job they are willing to give you, the “objective” is wasted space. Your cover letter or intro will clearly state what job you are applying for which takes us back to being clear on your goal.
What you want it to include is your work experience, a summary of your skills and qualifications, education, and anything else relevant to the position you are applying for.
* You should tailor your resume to the specific job you are seeking. If it is for a touring position, you want to focus on your touring experience. If applying for a studio job, you want to lean heavily on the skills and experience related to studio work.
For example: If you are applying for a job with a band as FOH or Monitor engineer, prioritize any live mixing experience you have. After that, list whatever other experience you have with Live Sound- any time spent working for a sound company, on the sound crew at a live venue, as a stage hand working with audio, etc… If you are applying at a studio, prioritize any other studio jobs and experience you’ve had. If you are proficient in Pro Tools, Digital Performer or any other digital audio platform include that. If you’ve got a knack for repairing vintage equipment -that would be an asset to a recording studio that specializes with vintage equipment.
Don’t omit experience because it wasn’t a paid position. If you volunteered to set up your church’s PA system or helped out at the local high school running sound for their musicals, or worked in audio in college, anything that you’ve done involving live sound can be pulled from if you are shy on work experience. If you recorded and mixed your friends band’s demo in your home studio, it’s experience.
Other Work Experience
When you are just starting out you may find that you don’t have a lot of experience for the specific job you are applying for. Consider what transferable skills you have from other work experience even if it’s not industry related. Leon Hopkins from Clair Global says, “Sometimes “out of industry” work experience shows that one is at least aggressive to find temporary work, or it could show they have experienced similar situations in nature but in a different industry. For example, waiting tables is learning how to apply customer service, working construction shows you have been in an environment that requires safety protocols. Of course showing any industry experience is good. For new younger hires, some formal audio education is a good thing, we tend to look at that very favorably. Any experiences that express you have been in a team environment is helpful, touring is a team sport for sure. Some folks still cut their chops in Night Clubs getting into whatever they can find. Ambition comes in different forms I have found. There are also many ways that folks can study the many audio related topics on their own with self-motivation even after formal education, it will pay off eventually.”
If you have not had a lot of work experience, you may want to prioritize your education. If you’ve attended college or a technical school for audio engineering highlight what your training included, did you receive a degree or diploma?
Skills and qualifications
- Have you taken any courses, seminars, or training on your own? Have you attained certification in Smaart, Avid or other products?
- Have you built and maintained your home studio from scratch?
- Have you spec’d and influenced purchasing decisions on the sound system at the club where you mix?
- Do you have a musical background?
- Do you know how to operate a fork lift?
- Do you speak any other languages?
- Do you have computer skills?
Professional Organizations and or affiliations
Do you belong to AES or other professional organizations? Have you attended any industry conventions?
- Do you have a valid passport and driver’s license? If the job involves touring a passport is a must.
- Do you have an A, B, or C class license that allows you to drive a truck?
- Are you a nonsmoker? Are you drug-free?
- If you have space available, you can list Other Interests
- Sailing, mountain biking, climbing, cooking, etc….
In the touring world, it’s all about contacts. It’s very rare that someone gets hired without a direct recommendation. Usually, the first thing a band or management does when looking for a sound engineer is contact the ones they have successfully used before. Tour Managers and Production Managers are generally the next go to for recommendations. When they have exhausted all of their usual suspects the next thing they do is ask for recommendations from people they trust. Jimmy Pettinato – Production Manager for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, says the one thing he looks for on a resume is “Someone I know. If I don’t know the person applying for the job, I want to see the name of someone I do know who has worked with them, who I can have a conversation with to find out if they are qualified for the gig.” This is where networking and making and keeping contacts comes in very handy. Almost all of our jobs come via word of mouth, from other bands and crew that we have worked with or contacts we have made. “The most important thing for me,” says Jimmy Pettinato, ” is contact information of people I can call to get references. If they have no work experience then someone I can call to get character references. I don’t care so much what they’ve done, I care about how they did it. You can have the most amazing resume with a long list of huge artists that you’ve worked for and big gigs but unless those clients are going to give you a high recommendation it’s no good.”
If you don’t have a lot of experience, it is a good idea to list a contact name with email and phone for each job that you have had. Also have a list of 3-4 other references available upon request. Good references include instructors from any related education or training you’ve had, industry contacts that can vouch for your work or related skills, co-workers and previous employers.
7/2014-12/2014 Big Audio Sound Company- Worked in the shop prepping gear and as A2 on local festivals. Contact John Smith- Director of Operations 555-777-6868, jsm@…com
8/2014-9/2014 FOH Engineer for Your Band, US club tour. Contact: Bob Smith – Tour Manager, 555-777-6868, bsm@….com
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do be specific about the job you are applying for.
- Do list your strongest elements first- Is it your Professional experience or your Educations?
- Do make sure your contact info is up to date and easy to find.
- Do proof read for spelling and punctuation errors. If you aren’t confident in your writing skills, ask someone who is to proof read for you.
- Be specific about your abilities and experience.
- Do have several good references you can rely on for glowing recommendations these should be people who know you professionally or personally and can give an honest appraisal of your skills and qualifications related to the job.
- Do keep it organized and easy to follow. Listing things chronologically helps.
- Do not list every single band whose show you’ve worked as “worked with”, if you were not directly employed by the band. Just because you worked the main stage at Coachella doesn’t mean you worked with Muse, Queen’s of the Stone Age, Foster the People, etc…. Unless you were actually employed by the band, do not list them on your resume.
- Do not include a head shot or glamour shot selfie
- Do not lie about your experience this business is very small and word travels fast, you will be found out.
Some other things to consider:
If you are looking for a job in live sound Are you willing to travel? If touring is not an option, you should make that clear. You could always find opportunities with companies that specialize in corporate or regional work. A house gig at a venue is also an option.
Social Media– Be aware that every potential employer may do a google search on you. Whatever is out there on the net and in social media is available to them so if you want to look professional, clean up your image so that you do.
If you are applying for a touring position and have ANY kind of criminal record or arrest that may cause problems for you at the border, make that known to your Tour Manager ASAP and before you actually get to the border.
Since most resumes are sent via email, the body of the email should contain a good cover letter or introduction, and the resume is best attached as a PDF file, so it is readable by any platform. In your cover letter you should state what position you are applying for. The cover letter, is also where you can get more personal about why you are the right person for the job. Are you eager and do you have a willingness to learn? Are you dependable and do you have good people skills? You’ll want to sell your strong points especially if you lack technical skills.
The following are examples of good resumes and bad resumes.
Note: These are completely fictitious, and any similarity or likeness to known persons is completely coincidental.
This is an example of what not to do. See notes in Red.
Bad Resume Example
Here is an example of how the above resume could be improved.
Here is an example of a good resume.