Okay, so you’ve got the header on your resume, describing your name, titles, and contact information. It looks great, and now there’s the small matter of filling up the empty space underneath.
For a general resume, just remember EEE — Education, Experience, and Extras, although you don’t necessarily head them this way, especially the last one. For a resume specific to an artist, you are putting in the same information, only you might divide it into headings such as Shows Entered, Representation/Galleries, Awards, Memberships/Affiliations, Collections, and so on.
If you are strong in a certain area, say Shows Entered, then showcase this; conversely, if you are not in a single Collection anywhere, then don’t worry about putting this in. Beneath the headings, arrange the information by highlighting what matters to you — if the shows are prestigious, such as International Salon of Contemporary Masterpieces, then put them in bold at the beginning of the phrase. If the venues are more impressive, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, put that first. I like to separate information by bullet points, so that an entry under the heading of Shows may look like the following:
International Salon of Contemporary Masterpieces • Dayton Museum of Art • Someplace, WY • 2010
My Thoughts (Solo Show) • Art of Excellence Gallery • Someplace, OR • 2010
Auction of the West’s Best (23rd Annual) • New and Old Gallery • Someplace, WA • 2009
In list form, whatever is first and highlighted will jump out to the person quickly skimming over the surface.
As a sidenote, maintain consistencey by formatting all of the lines within a heading the same way. If the first line in your Shows heading lists show first, then venue, city, and date, make sure that all of the lines in that heading are ordered the same. In the next, separate heading, say Awards, you may re-arrange the order, again, as long as all of the lines within that heading are consistent.
Also, regardless of what you were told in Mrs. McClintick’s business course, there is no set order in which to put your headings, and again, if something makes you look less than sterling, then there is no reason to put it in — for example, if you have no formal training, you may elect to leave out the Education heading altogether, or within the heading, describe yourself as self-taught, auto didactic, or something of a similar nature. Remember that seminars and classes qualify as education.
Whatever is your strong point, lead with this, following with headings of subsequent strength. Your goal is to present yourself as positively, accurately, and clearly as possible, so that a person wading through a pile of papers will stop and look at yours.
Here’s an example: let’s say that you have divided your resume into four headings: Select Shows, Awards, Representation, and Education. If your show schedule is anaemic but your education is shockingly impressive, then put Education at the top and Shows at the bottom.
Resumes, like life, are fluid things, and there is a reason why we print them on paper or send them digitally as opposed to carving them in granite: things change. Many of us, when we’re first starting out, find ourselves scrabbling to find something, anything, about us or our experience that an employer would be interested in. The 16-year-old first launching into the work world lists the 4-H Livestock Show, the babysitting, and the steady paper route. The 44-year-old recently let-go middle manager does not.
An important caveat about making yourself look good: make sure that everything you list about yourself is accurate. If you taught classes in oil painting to some friends and neighbors, then you can accurately list yourself as a Private Instructor, not, however, as a Professor of Art. If a potential employer asks about a detail in your resume and you cannot describe it without stuttering and stumbling from guilt, then leave it out or rephrase it so that you can acknowledge and justify it.
Finally, in your efforts to describe yourself, feel free to go beyond the ordinary. I had a client once applying for a management position who asked me, “Do you think that I should mention that I speak and write fluent Swedish?” While Swedish is not a language generally bandied about in small-town America, it is decidedly unusual enough to attract notice, and we set up an Additional Information heading at the bottom of the resume to list some of this person’s less conventional attributes and skills.
All of us have our quirks, and it is sometimes to our advantage to draw attention to them.
Next week: Odds and Ends.