Represent Yourself With a Dynamic Resumé or Portfolio!
Nathan McCaughan, APMM VP of Education  

Model making is an oddball job. So much of our profession separates us from other prospective job seekers.

One of the areas where model making differs so much from other careers is in how to prepare a resume. It is hard to think of what to write that will catch an employers’ eye, especially when you have only been taught to write a resume the traditional way, like everyone else.

There is no blueprint for how to write a resume for a model maker, people that advise on resumes for a living are quite often of little help. In 2006, I was laid off. That company paid for me to take a one week resume building class from a company and that’s all they did. When they heard that a few of us in the class were model makers, we got the tilted-head/blankstare in return.

Most online tips for resume prep offer only many variables of the same old song. I often hear from students who say that resume classes they have taken are of little help when highlighting technical skills within a visual and dynamic field. But, don’t despair—there are some fundamentals that will help a young (or seasoned) model maker present themselves well enough to excite a potential employer:

• Your name and contact information – pretty basic stuff.

• Details on schooling and previous employment – solid nuts and bolts but nothing especially exciting here.

• A visually eye-catching resume layout – we are a visual bunch so I’ll be more likely to keep reading if the overall look is pleasing, balanced and easy to follow.

• Perfect spelling and grammar – yes, “perfect”! Simple errors make me assume that either the person is arrogant enough to think that their first draft is perfect, or they are afraid to ask a proofreader to help out. Neither of these qualities makes a very good model maker. Please ask someone who is skilled in language— like someone from the English Department—to go over your words.

• Use a simple format but make it rich in words that capture the passion and excitement that you have for your career.

• If you go outside the box with it, do it in a way that reflects who you are and what you want to do. This way if the employer likes it, chances are they will like you and you will be a good fit. On the flip side if they don’t, chances are you wouldn’t like them anyway.

After the actual resume, a prospective model making employee’s portfolio is paramount. This is the first test drive an employer gets with you. Their whole opinion of you is formed and more importantly remembered with this physical representation. In my work, I have gone through many portfolio reviews with students. Here are some of my observations:

• Portfolio pieces should tell the story of what you can do well and what skills you are working on. You’ll want to use around 4 or 5 projects. In an interview though, you should have shots of your other projects organized and at the ready just in case conversation leads you into one of them.

• If you aren’t able to present a model in person, which is a big plus, be sure to have quality pictures. Include macro images of the joints and tricky spots so we can see how you handled them even if they are not pretty.

• Include in-process shots. These are tough because you are excited to get the project done, but it is important to show how you build things.

• Photograph the inner workings of your model. You can fudge lighting on a surface in a photo, but lighting can’t hide bad construction so have photos of the guts, too.

• Don’t just build models that surround your interests – that tells the reviewer that you only like to work on your ideas. Include a model you built for someone else, or for a greater purpose than yourself, like a historical structure or object.

• Try to include hints of manufacturability, packaging and marketing in your portfolio. These things will give you a leg up on the person who builds something just because it looks cool. These things tell the reviewer that you have an understanding of the role a model plays in the scope of business.

These ideas are based on my point of view so if you have something to add, please email me at education@modelmakers.org with your thoughts. I would like to publish a list of what to include on our website.

Nathan McCaughan
APMM VP of Education



 
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