How to Create an Animation Resume

image by Ambrozio at Ambrozio

Resumes for jobs in the animation field can be a bit tricky, especially when the real demonstration of your skills and experience can be found in your demo reel and portfolio. You do still need a record of where you've worked and your roles there, though, so it's always good to have a standard resume on hand. Here's a few tips for putting together a good animation resume.

For a Student or Recent Graduate, Focus on Internships and In-School Achievements

If you don't have work experience, you'll be relying more heavily on your demo reel and portfolio to sell you as a viable job candidate - but don't neglect to use your resume to showcase other skills. If you've had internships, make sure to list those and describe what you did there. If you won any awards in school or gained any other recognition for your work, list those as well. Make sure to list your education before your experience (only for students and new grads), though, and list your GPA if it's above 3.5. If you graduated cum laude or summa cum laude, include that.

For a More Seasoned Animator, Focus on Achievements and Key Projects

As a career animator, if you've worked on high-profile projects such as feature films or highly successful video games, be sure to discuss those and your role in those projects. It's usually a good idea, under each job heading, to have a short paragraph describing your general functions there, then a bullet list of the major projects you were involved in, supplemented by a list of achievements that detail any time when you made a significant difference in improving internal processes, bringing a project to success, or driving new innovation.

For Contractors/freelancers, Focus on Your Biggest Projects and Your Biggest Clients

Similar to a full-time animator, you'll want to create a bullet list discussing high-visibility projects and your role in them. You'll also, though, want to have one bullet that lists your high-profile clients, provided you aren't violating any confidentiality agreements.

To keep from overwhelming readers with individual job listings for every client you've worked for, instead create a single job listing covering your freelance experience, with a single job description that discusses the general services you offer to clients. For your bullet list of projects beneath that, pick and choose only the most important projects that showcase the diversity of your skills and the range of responsibility you've had.

Always Include a Website Link

You can only fit so much information into your portfolio or demo reel, especially as you update both over the course of your career, and someone reading your resume might not have easy access to either. They might, however, be able to easily get to your web page, where you can unite all the distinct elements of your experience and skills into a single presentation piece.

You can include your resume and add further details that didn't fit on the page; you can expand on your portfolio and online demo reel with additional images and videos beyond what was available in the sample pieces; you can also give them access to interactive works that may not have worked in demo reel format. It's a place to give a little more personal information about yourself, too, but without venturing into the unprofessional; you should keep the same taboos in mind with your website as you do with your demo reel.

Overall it should be well-designed, and should create a cohesive image of you as a highly qualified professional. If you have a strong presence on sites like LinkedIn, you may want to include that link on your resume as well.

Don't Forget Your List of Skills

Depending on whether you're a traditional or computer animator, this may be a list of areas where you have expertise (cel painting, stop motion animation, keyframing, cleanup, etc.) or a list of technical skills and software, (Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe Flash 5.5, Maya, 3D Studio Max, bump mapping, inverse kinematics, etc.). Most animation jobs require very specific skill sets or software knowledge, and to keep from being passed over you need to be sure that your resume makes it clear that you have experience in these areas.

Use Design Elements and Sample Artwork Sparingly

It's tempting to want to turn your resume into a graphic design piece. While some people pull that off well with simple, elegant designs, for the most part this turns into a cluttered mess that detracts from the impact of your actual experience and looks highly unprofessional. This isn't the place to include sample pieces from projects discussed in the resume. That's what your sample sheet is for. And on that note...

Always Include a Sample Sheet

Think of this as print portfolio light. It's just a one-page piece with decently-sized snapshots of the very best works in your portfolio. You should caption them with the project they're related to, as optimally they should be references to projects discussed in the resume, so readers can see the end result of the work you discussed. The sample sheet should be the last page of the resume.

Never Go Over Two Pages

This doesn't include the sample sheet - that's your third page. Optimally a student resume should be one page; a career resume should be two pages. If you can't fit your experience in that space, you're giving too much detail or focusing on things that don't matter. Save something for the interview. If you pile on too much information, they won't read at all.