Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Creating a Musician's Resumé

Applying for positions at various institutions can be one of the most onerous tasks a musician faces. We spend all this time perfecting our craft and what a job application starts off with (before anyone will even want to listen to you) is how you look on paper. Many young classical musicians these days are quite mistaken in thinking that a good LinkedIn, MySpace, or Facebook profile will do the trick in presenting a professional look, forgetting that most administrators in positions of power still take stock in the time-honored vehicle of the resumé.

What makes the preparation process difficult as a classical musician is that resumé services and software haven't got the faintest clue as to how a college teaching, orchestral, or opera resumé differs from a standard one. Enter the 2005 edition of The Musician's Resume Handbook as compiled by Bob Borden and Kathy Ivy at the Eastman School of Music's Office of Careers and Professional Development, viewable via pdf file on the Eastman website. A properly prepared and appropriate resumé can:

...encourage potential employers to pay close attention to you when they do meet you or hear you perform. Remember, a résumé is your only representative when you are not present. Thus, it must be perfect – well-organized and highly polished. If the musical director and audition/selection committee of a symphony have to listen to many auditions in a brief period of time, you want your résumé to help make you stand out.

The MRH offers the definitive guide on how to create an industry standard classical music resumé, with chapters on getting started, brainstorming, formats, types, selling yourself, the finished product, and how to present it. There's even a chapter on action verbs, always a crucial vocabulary tool on how to effectively market what you've done developed. Especially useful at the end of the guide is the selection of real-life resumés of Eastman graduates.

What the guide doesn't tell you is that the process of preparing a resumé doesn't just take a couple of evenings, but a very long period of time to fine-tune everything you've compiled, and proofread it down to the last detail. I've probably spent at least 40 hours preparing mine to get it to an acceptable level (you can view a slightly out-of-date non-official version here).

My best advice? Create one as soon as possible during or after your terminal degree, save it as a Word document, and continue to add to it every time you do something in your field. That way, it will be ready to go at a moment's notice. Part of the reason I found employment teaching and performing so soon after I finished my DMA at Eastman back in 1994 was that I always had resumés ready to go on a moment's notice. In spite of all the advances in technology and the internet, very little has really changed--the resumé is still the way to go if you want to leverage your experience towards getting employment in the field.

1 comment:

  1. Could someone please give me some advice - format for a resume to apply to a collaborative piano graduate program. Should it include all my repertoire? (Soloist, collaborative and chamber music reperoire). This would be more than eight pages just for the repertoire section in my resume?