Perfecting your technical theatre resume

It’s job-hunting season in the technical theatre world, especially for those of you just graduating. SETC is only a day away, and USITT is right around the corner. If you are looking to get a gig at a summer theatre, now is the time to apply. Not next month. Now.

You need a résumé if you’re going to do this right. You can find lots of help with crafting a résumé in general, but not much on a technical theatre one specifically. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

List your objective.

Somewhere at the top near your name, you should list what you do: prop builder, props master, stage manager, etc. Some websites will tell you listing an objective is not necessary, but for a technical theatre person, it is. Particularly when you are going to a conference or a job fair, you will probably have one representative from a company collecting all the résumés from applicants, then dividing them up between the appropriate departments back at the office. It’s helpful for them to know at a glance whether a résumé should go to electrics, carpentry or costumes. Plus, it tells them which job you are interested in. You don’t want your résumé handed to the master electrician if you want the props master to look at it.

Drop names within reason.

It is helpful to list the names of directors and designers you work with since the technical theatre world is small. Chances are, your interviewer may recognize someone on your résumé, and it will give them an idea of what kind of environments you have worked in. However, when you are just starting out, you may have only college shows listed, or the shows from one small professional gig. I’ve seen résumés where the applicant has only worked with one designer, but they list them over and over again, so that an entire column is just one name repeated on down the line. If the majority of your work is done under one or two people, they should either be one of your references, or listed just once in your work experience.

Also, don’t make a mess with all the names you drop. Any name you put on your résumé can potentially be contacted by the company interviewing you. Don’t list someone because you were in the same room as them for ten minutes. The employer may call them and be like, “Hey, you ever work with Joey Bookcase?” And that person will be all like, “No, I ain’t never heard of no Joey Bookcase!” That’s how people in technical theatre talk to each other.

Check your speling.

This should go without saying, but with the résumés I see, it unfortunately needs to be said more. If you can’t take the time to read your résumé once for spelling errors, why should an employer take the time to read it? If you don’t notice a misspelled word on the most important representation of your work, I may assume you won’t notice your prop still has a bit of wet paint on it as you hand it to the actress in her hand-dyed silk dress.

Check the work of others.

If you have no idea how to start a résumé, start looking up people in your field, especially those with jobs you aspire to. Most professionals have their résumé online. You can see how they organize it, what kind of information they list, and how they design it. Here, you can start with mine.

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