+ Learn a new musical skill in 10 minutes. Explore Soundfly’s wide array of free online courses and gain a musical edge during your lunch break. Or sign up for the Soundfly Weekly newsletter, and learn something new every Tuesday!
By Grace Carter
Are you a talented musician but struggling to find your dream job — whether as a teacher/tutor, working in a recording studio, or at a sync music firm? There’s a very good chance that your résumé is the problem. Sometimes creative and talented people have difficulty presenting their skills in a marketable, professional way on their résumé.
Your music résumé must follow the right format, contain a professionally written bio, properly discuss your past experience and education, and make good use of any awards you’ve been given. If you’re a singing actor, writing and sending résumés to get auditions, you should check out this free article, or head over to our free online course, The Definitive Guide to Building Your Audition Book, for a more in-depth learning experience. Let’s get started.
Formatting is key.
When people write a résumé, they usually stick to either the reverse chronological format or the functional format. The reverse chronological format allows you to put your most recent experience first, so go with that if it is to your benefit — remember that, because it’s important. If your most recent musical gigs or employment positions aren’t the most prestigious things you’ve done, you might want to consider another format. And this applies this to education, publications, and other achievements, as well. If you have recently had professional training, this is probably the best format for you to use.
Your other option is the functionally formatted résumé, which is to your advantage if you are not professionally trained in music but have acquired skills and knowledge you think make you suitable for the job. In this format, you simply list your relevant skills and experience.
And speaking of form, here are a few tips relating to the various distinct sections typically found in a professional résumé for musicians.
“Writing your professional bio is one of the most important parts of your résumé. This is where you have an opportunity to introduce yourself, what you can do, and what you’re passionate about,” suggests Jeanette Torres, résumé proofreader at OXEssays.
Reading other artists’ bios can be a great source of inspiration if you’re struggling. Your first task is to get the reader’s attention with a few introductory sentences describing yourself and your musical mission. Try and inject a bit of your musical personality into the tone here to differentiate yourself from any other applicants — any time you can let your personality shine through in the résumé, you’re in great hands. We’ve compiled some really helpful tips specific to artist bio writing here, if you want to check that out in more depth.
Your Work and Performance Experience
List your previous experience in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Include the years you played, the organization you were a part of, your instrument of choice, the section and chair you played, any paid or unpaid recording sessions you’re proud of, meaningful tours and appearances, etc. Don’t forget to write if you were a substitute or a regular player.
For each position you list, include up to three bullet points describing your time there. You don’t need to fill up the page with every bit of your performance history. Select the ones you feel best showcase your experience, and that you think might carry over to helping you get the specific job for which you’re currently applying. If you were a high school music teacher, don’t just list this experience, describe a bit about your role and responsibilities. Did you implement a new program at that school that benefited the students? Talk about it.
A recruiter will be interested in what kind of education you have, as they would like to know if you’re professionally trained. You can include your post-secondary education, even if it is not related to music, but obviously a background in music and performance will go a long way. List the degree you earned, the institution that awarded it to you, and the years you attended. Only list your high school education details if that is the highest level you have completed. If you’ve completed any of Soundfly’s mentored courses, definitely mention that on your résumé, and mention what you accomplished in your course session!
Your Achievements and Awards Section
Speaking of accomplishments, this section can be a great way to stand out from the competition. Including awards and other achievements dramatically increases your chance of getting a call back, interview, or follow-up trial for the position. You can also include scholarships and fellowships you earned while studying music in school. Awards show that you are passionate about what you do and will invest the time necessary to excel in the position.
Improve your writing with some online resources.
Your résumé is a representation of yourself and the first impression you make on a potential employer. Don’t risk submitting a résumé fraught with errors and poor quality writing. I’m an Aussie, myself, so a lot of the following recommendations come from my home country, but that doesn’t mean a global audience can’t make use of them, or use these as a reference for researching programs closer to home.
Here are a few online tools to help with different aspects of your writing:
- Resumention — This is the place to go if you need to write a proper résumé. It’s a service that is specially geared towards creating perfect résumés for their clients.
- Via Writing and Writing Populist — Use these grammar resources to check over your writing for mistakes. Writing with poor grammar is an excellent way to have your résumé deleted immediately.
- Do My Assignment and Essay Roo — Check out these online proofreading tools, recommended by Australian Reviewer, and stop worrying about typos.
- Simple Grad and State of Writing — These are blogs with plenty of useful tips and suggestions on business writing. Improve your writing by learning from what other writers can teach you, and make sure you’re never denied a gig because of the quality of your communication skills.
- Boom Essays — Try this online editing tool out. Marketed primarily to students in the UK, it’s super reliable and recommended for creating flawless résumés, as well as prose-style writing.
- Lets Go and Learn — Use this blog-style career guide to improve your résumé writing and interviewing skills. Once again, this site is geared towards students soon leaving university and entering the job market, so pick and choose which pieces of advice are relevant to the music-related job for which you’re applying.
Just because you’re a talented and accomplished musician, that doesn’t mean you can just slap together a résumé and let your accomplishments speak for themselves. A high quality résumé shows you take pride in what you do, care about details and ease-of-communication, and that you’re a decent judge of excellence standards.
Take the next steps in advancing your music career with Soundfly’s curated Hustle series of articles and popular online course offerings on topics like how to book a tour on a shoestring, how to get all the royalties you never knew existed, and how to build a killer website for your musical project!
Grace Carter is an educator at Research Paper Writing and Academized. She writes on the current state of education as well as career related articles, reviews résumés and cover letters, and manages a course on business writing at Assignment Help Australia.