Make it in the music business (part 4): The resume

I had never put together a resume before. That is what we call it in the US, a resume, not a CV. I had been working since I was 11 years old, but it was always either babysitting, or being a life guard or teaching swimming lessons. The knowledge that I had to prove I had for those positions were simply my ability to not burn the house down with children while the parents were away, or to know the right person at the right pool and have the right certificates for first aide and teaching four-year olds how to float on their backs. The idea of actually putting these skills in one place was totally foreign to me. But the job description was asking for a resume, so I had to cough one up.

I again revisited the Career Centre at my University, this time with an actual position to apply for. I read the specifications of what the employer – Sony Music – were looking for. I literally had zero of the skills they asked for. My experience at this point outside of the aquatic arena were a couple of months spent filing records in the middle of the night at my college radio station, and a couple of reviews in my school paper of local bands. How could I sculpt my years of teaching kids how not to drown into something that would get me at least a second look?

This is a crucial thing that I learned, and a lot of people get wrong when applying for jobs. You are trying to solve a problem for the possible employer- the problem of having a gig to fill.  They want to know quickly and easily how you could fix this issue with the least amount of work for them. At the time, I was still totally enamoured with anyone who could play the kazoo in public, let alone be in a signed band. Now I realize that there is not that much difference between rounding up 10 eight-year olds and getting them to swim across a 25-yard pool without killing themselves or each other, all in some sort of order, with getting a 5 piece band of twenty-somethings from point A to point B. It’s all about people skills, organization, commanding respect. I took the things I had learned on the pool deck and applied them to working with world class bands, showing how planning a half hour lesson really calls on the same skill set as writing a marketing framework for a major city. Its all about identifying the arc of the campaign, who and what are the key items to include and hit, and how to follow up. Whether that be with a kick board, a phone call to a radio station or an appearance, they all draw on similar talents.

I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote again my resume and application. I went an extra step- one of the questions was what would be your 10 desert island albums? I literally made a scroll and used my calligraphy skills that I had learned in an elective during high school to carefully letter a ‘message in a bottle.’ I then burned the edges of the paper and shoved into a bottle filled with sand. It took all of the money that I had that week in my budget for food to Fed-Ex the bottle to the Sony Music College Marketing department in New York. But it did not matter; I could live for a couple more days on Super Noodle and coffee. I wanted to know that I had given it my total best shot, and unless I did something crazy and creative, I would not feel like I had given it my all. I am still like this – and I know it is one of the reasons I have a good ratio (KNOCK ON WOOD) of success to failure.

I then called LONG DISTANCE which again was a massive cost to make sure that the package was received. I followed this up again about three days later, just saying that I was super keen, and if there was anything else I could give them, please let me know. I waited and waited and waited by the phone. It was worse than hoping a boy I liked would call. EVERY CALL COULD BE THEM.

Then they called. I had an interview.

Jen developed our BA (Hons) Commercial Music course and you can read more of her story in  Make it in the music business (part 5): Fancy pants.

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Originally from California, Jen spent her early career working with a variety of big name record companies before becoming the West Coast Marketing Director for Interscope Geffen A&M Records at the age of 25.

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