You spend hours obsessing. You might volunteer at a convention, transcribe a podcast, speak on a panel, design a website, run social media, create your own blog, cosplay, take photographs of cosplay, design jewelry for Etsy, write for a nerdy website or blog, complete NaNoWriMo, etc. Maybe you’ve written 100,000 words of fanfiction in the last 24 hours. Can any of this translate into “real world” skills? YES.
We are children of the Internet, and the hours and hours we spend dOInG nOtHiNg is actually SOMETHING. We have years of experience in web design, in writing tag lines, in wrangling people, in making it seem like two random characters from that one tv show we love have crazy sexual tension even though they don’t. We get people to read our posts on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and keep an audience interested in what we have to say. We run our own websites, we lead and moderate conversations on Tumblr or fan forums or at conventions. The work we’ve done without knowing it? These are Media and Comms degrees. Marketing internships. Leadership workshops. Web design courses. You’ve already got the skills, and now you just need to figure out how to talk about it.
Two major questions we’re here to answer. First, what kind of fandom experience can I put on my resume? And second, how do I make my fangirling sound professional?
YO, FF? WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN I PUT ON MY RESUME?
Well, almost anything. Think about things you’re already doing, and think about things you’d like to be doing that may be out of your comfort zone.
The point of a resume is to make you stand out. And just like fandom makes you stand out in your personal life, it should also set you apart from your peers in your professional life. Sure, a lot of people have graduated from college, but how many people have volunteered at a fan convention? Or made YouTube videos? Your resume is supposed to catch the eye of a potential employer and get you an interview, which will give you the chance to talk about who you are and why you’re the best.
Do you understand WordPress? Have you ever wanted to customize your Tumblr or your LiveJournal, so you went into the CSS code and tweaked the font color a little bit, or added in your own header image? Shoutout to all those nights I spent making dumb LiveJournal icons or Harry/Hermione manips, because now I’m great at Photoshop. When a potential employer tells you they have a ~Very Complicated web interface and CAN YOU HANDLE IT? The answer is absolutely yes. You already do this. And if you’re asked to do something that you don’t understand, just google it. Or find a YouTube tutorial, just like you would have done at home. (Sidenote, “I don’t know how to do this but give me 20 minutes,” will advance your career leaps and bounds. This shows initiative, it shows that you’re adaptable and proactive and will make you invaluable.)
Have you ever used hashtags on Twitter or Tumblr, ironically or unironically? Are you able to get people to comment on your Instagram, or follow you back? You’re doing the work of a Social Media Manager. I work for an association, and we’re always trying to increase our social media participation and web presence from our membership and the public, something you’re already doing on a daily basis with your own #personal #brand.
BUT HOW CAN I MAKE MY FANDOM FROLICKING SOUND BUSINESS-Y?
There are two things we’re going to focus on when it comes to turning your fandom frolicking into serious business. The first is quantifying your experience, helping potential employers understand the impact you have on your community. The second is realizing the validity of your own achievements, and understanding that all the work you’re doing in your free time is important and valuable to your professional career.
Quantifying your experience .
You can’t make a potential employer understand the magic of a convention like GeekyCon (unless you are super lucky and they’re one of us), but you can help them understand the amount of time and effort you’ve put into fandom related things by breaking it down into numbers. But I don’t have exact numbers! Don’t worry, it’s ok to estimate. By quantifying your experience, you’re able to show the exact impact you’ve had on your community, and how that will be an asset to the job you are applying for.
Here’s some examples:
Example 1 : I volunteer at a convention and want to put that on my resume.
The first line will read Volunteer – GeekyCon 2015, Orlando Florida .
Don’t Do This: Now, a bad way of writing about your volunteer experience is to say “Worked volunteer shifts at GeekyCon” or “Volunteered at GeekyCon.” And while it may be true, “helped some people stay in line” does not accurately reflect your effort, nor does it impress employers (because they don’t understand those lines ).
Do This Instead:
A better way to talk about your experience is to say something along the lines of “Registered four million attendees over the course of four days using Tixr” or “Acted as the Special Guest Handler for a four day, multi-fandom convention.” See how a couple words and numbers make all the difference?
Example 2: I transcribe a podcast, and want to put that on my resume.
The first line will read Transcriber – The Best Podcast, May 2005 – October 2008 .
Don’t Do This:
A bad way of talking about this? “Transcribed some episodes of A Game of Thrones podcast.” Why isn’t that sufficient? Because you’re missing an opportunity to show off your skills.
Do This Instead:
Instead, you should be writing “Used basic HTML to create one 75 minute transcript a week, typing 60 WPM.” You’re still talking about the same exact thing, but the latter better reflects what you’re good at.
Example 3: I am a photographer, and want to put that on my resume
Don’t Do This:
“Took photos at a convention” doesn’t have the pizazz or emphasis that a potential employer might be looking for.
Do This Instead:
Highlight what was challenging about the shoot. What kind of camera do you use? Are you proficient in any editing software? What will the photos be used for? Did you have to apply for a press pass?
One last tip before we move on, just as important as quantifying your experience is using the right jargon. All those annoying buzzwords are actually going to be super helpful to you. The 10,000 words of Jurassic World fanfiction you’ve written makes you “self motivating” and “proficient in communication.” Hitting 500 subscribers on YouTube makes you a “goal setter” and “confident.” Make a list of your fandom experience, find buzzwords and skills that should be included on a good resume, and start matching them up.
Owning Your Achievements
Sometimes our biggest accomplishments and proudest moments are in a fandom setting, and it’s important that we let these things we’ve worked so hard for work in our advantage. There’s a lot to be said about finding and coming to terms with your own value, and realizing that what you do online is incredibly important. You bring something to the table that nobody else does.
Also remember, we’re all out there. As fandom becomes more widely accepted, you never know who might be a closet fan. There’s old school fandom people who have been in the workforce for a few years now! You may be surprised by what people find cool professionally, or how many people have passions as well. Everyone is a fan of SOMETHING, and it makes you relatable.
If you’re reading this article and thinking ok guys, ~cool tips~ but I don’t do ANY of this stuff, then get involved! Join a local organized fan group, volunteer at the next convention you attend, start a YouTube channel, build a website, etc. There is opportunity for you!
If you have any questions regarding your resume or specific fandom experience us, email your resume and questions to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to give you input!
Now, go out there and make us proud.