Write Your Resume Like a Movie Trailer — 9 Steps

by Kate Williams

It’s time to down and write your resume, but chances are, you’d probably rather watch Netflix all day. Well, today is your lucky day. You can write a darn good synopsis of your career by using the same techniques found in movie trailers.

In this article, learn about what movie trailers and resumes have in common (a lot) and when to use (and not use) this boredom-busting strategy.

Movie Trailers vs Resumes

Disclaimer: our Soul-based Job Search should not be a drag. It should be a process where you are getting to know who you are and the work you love to do. So if you do not enjoy a creative approach to writing, check out this more traditional resume writing guide.

Now on with the show. I can definitely see what a movie trailer and a resume have in common. They can both be described as short, strategically edited introductions that are meant to leave the audience wanting more. Check out this official trailer for Top Gun: Maverick (Yes, I am a child of the 1980s.) The voiceover on the trailer even starts out resume- y. “30 years of service …” I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan, but this trailer piques my curiosity, hits the nostalgia button and I am a gonna go.

They Both Make a First Impression

When you’re job-hunting, changing jobs or starting your own business, making a positive first impression is crucial.

I cannot stress this statement enough. The first impression may be the only chance you have. You have to do the work to make a great first impression. Ask friends to rate three versions of the resume. Find out why they liked their favorite one and write your resume accordingly.

The movie studio has deep pockets to test different trailers with different audiences. This technique is market research and audience insights. The movie studio understands that they only get one shot to impress people and take their money. Your resume only has one chance to impress people so you can make money.

Two Pages or Two Minutes to Tell a Great Story

Now let’s put on our film editing hats and pretend that your resume is your movie trailer and your career is the blockbuster dramedy. We’re talking all-star cast, Oscar buzz, it’s a billion-dollar box office baby. A resume, however, is limited to two pages. Waahh wahhh.

The lesson here is that every word counts. The words you include on the document may not be the same ones you choose for another resume. To write your resume well, you have to have a minimalist mindset. It’s learning to go all Coco Chanel on the document and edit, edit, edit.

A resume has to show the highlights, plot twists ( career path) and compel the audience to see the full feature, i.e. bring your superstar self in for an interview. A movie trailer is about two minutes long. Months of shooting editing and post-production work go into a two-hour movie. That two-hour movie is boiled down to two minutes. If Hollywood can edit down this far, you can put your career on two pages.

How to Write Your Resume Like a Movie Trailer

Enough of the philosophizing, let’s get to the action. Here are several steps you can take to get the job search on the fast track and get the interview.

1. Start Fast

The average time a recruiter spends looking at a resume is only about 6 seconds. You have to capture their attention quickly. Ensure your resume and cover letter have a strong opening that addresses the employer’s needs and makes them want to keep reading.

This fast opening is achieved with a summary of qualifications statement. This is a powerful, concise statement that blends best skills with what you offer. It is the most difficult and the most important part of your resume.

2. Finish Big

You also need an effective closing because the beginning and end of any event is what we tend to remember most. Summarize the specific reasons why you think you’re a great candidate and demonstrate your enthusiasm.

3. Use Keywords

Movie trailers may not talk about keywords, but they’re sure to mention any Academy Awards, big stars, and other attractions. When you write your resume, include the words that automatic scanners and humans in your industry want to see.

Address weaknesses. Even if you had a stormy relationship with your last boss or you don’t know how to code, you can still create an impressive and honest resume by focusing on your strengths and putting a positive spin on the areas where you need to grow.

4. Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

Some major trailers cost more than a million dollars to produce, so studios gather a lot of input first. See what your friends, family, and coworkers think of your resume. They may suggest some helpful revisions.

5. Generate Buzz

Successful trailers create a mood and capture your interest. Remember that you’re using your resume to market yourself rather than just describing your work history.

Now we’re going to look at a few techniques that moviemakers avoid. They will work for your resume.

6. Spoilers Welcome

While a trailer usually tries to avoid giving away the whole plot, you want your resume to support a clear conclusion. Audiences may be willing to gamble on a movie where they don’t know what to expect, but it’s the rare hiring manager who will call you without knowing your qualifications.

Have fun with your resume. Write it like a movie trailer.

7. Stay Out of the Tabloids

Adult content and controversy can help promote a movie, but most employers are committed to protecting their brand. Avoid saying anything unnecessarily controversial that could remove you from consideration. While you’re at it, see if your social media accounts need any cleaning up too.

8. Captivate, Not Captive Audience

Do you enjoy sitting through 15 minutes of trailers before seeing the movie you paid for? While that strategy may make sense for the movie industry, you can find more productive and less annoying ways to share your resume. Target companies who match your priorities.

9. Think Long-term

While movie trailers aim to generate as much profit as possible in the critical first few opening days, you need to take a longer perspective. It’s natural to be happy about any job offer but evaluate how it will affect your future. Will you find the work fulfilling? Are there opportunities for advancement?

Pay attention to the trailers the next time you’re at the movies waiting for the main feature to start. You may find valuable ideas about how to write your resume that makes employers want to see more.

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