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How To Write A Screenwriting Résumé: A Step-By-Step Guide

Updated: Apr 16, 2023


Article was written by Screenwriting Staffing's Founder, Jacob N. Stuart. Get your script blasted out to the buyers and decision-makers.


A résumé is a crucial document in almost every profession, including the film industry, where it's mandatory for nearly every position. However, some screenwriters may consider themselves an exception and overlook the importance of a résumé. Perhaps they mistakenly believe that their "screenplay" is the equivalent of a résumé.


This assumption is problematic because employers seeking to hire a screenwriter don't have the time or desire to read a lengthy script. With an inbox overflowing with over 300 applicants, the employer has to quickly evaluate each candidate.


So, how can a screenwriter stand out among the competition? By creating an effective and well-organized "screenwriting resume" that showcases their relevant experience and skills.


Résumé writing is a topic that is discussed across all industries, and screenwriting is no exception. To assist you in creating an effective screenwriting résumé, I've compiled a list of 12 "Overview Points." These points should be thought of as a brief summary of your screenwriting experience, skills, and accolades, which you could include in the body of the email (rather than as a PDF attachment) to give the employer an idea of your qualifications.


It's important to note that not all 12 of these overview points will be applicable to every screenwriter. It's up to each individual writer to decide which points best highlight and promote their skills.


Kindly note that this list is derived from my personal experience in the screenwriting industry, particularly from my recent film project, and, most importantly, from my position as the Founder of Screenwriting Staffing, where we help screenwriters find PAID work daily. Screenwriting Staffing has facilitated over 300+ success stories, over 105 of them having been produced to screen.


ONLINE PRESENCE.  Let’s not be coy. If you can attach a link to your work/credits where an employer can immediately validate your authenticity, then that’s your ace in the hole. So if you have an IMDb, this is where you would list it. You would also want to list your website, Film Freeway/Coverfly profile, or Facebook “fan” page here. But don’t stop there. Attach all sites you operate or are highly involved in. List your Blog, Twitter, & LinkedIn profile. Companies want to know you “exist,” and that people actually care what you have to say. They also want to know you can be used as a marketing tool if and when the project gets made. How to utilize Social Media for Screenwriters.


CREDITS.  This is the section where you list your credits, regardless of whether or not you have an IMDb page. However, it's important to keep in mind that you shouldn't list all of them. Instead, focus on the most well-known films (no more than three) that you have worked on. Include the Production Company, year it was made, any notable actors or directors involved, and any awards or recognition it received. It's worth noting that this section should only be used for spec scripts that you have sold, not work-for-hire projects.

  • Imagine having a variety of scripts made (commercials, short films, music videos), but none of them are well-known to the general public. In this case, you can mention: Over 12 scripts brought to the screen, encompassing features, shorts, a web series, and an infomercial, among others.

  • ONLY have 1 script produced to screen? No worries. Exploit the hell out of it. Attach the Youtube or Vimeo link to your resume.

  • If you have NOT had any produced work, but have had scripts optioned and/or purchased, go ahead and list them here, following the same format.

COMMISSIONED WORK.  A producer is always pleased to learn that someone has previously taken a chance on you, and it yielded successful results! This is where you will list your previous commissioned screenwriting jobs. Be sure to list your job title (Co-writer, Script Doctor, Story Ideas), the project's duration, and the company/producer who commissioned you. You do NOT need to list how much you were paid. Like the “CREDITS” section, ONLY list up to 3 and note any awards or celebrity attachments to the project. Find screenwriting work.


DEGREE. This section is hit or miss, but it really is a HIT when it’s a HIT! Some employers absolutely demand their screenwriters have a degree. Some ONLY care about experience. Regardless, if you have a screenwriting-related degree (especially from a reputable film school), list it! List your major, any professor mentors you worked under, and graduation date. Film school experiences vary, but if yours was successful, with your student films gaining national recognition and you graduating at the top of your class, be sure to include it.

  • Not everyone attends film school, therefore it may be worth considering including this section on your resume even if your degree is in a different field. However, it's important to be practical. If your degree is in a field such as writing, arts, or film, then including this section would be appropriate. On the other hand, if your degree is in nursing or a completely unrelated field, it might be best to leave this section out. Of course, this is just my personal opinion.

  • I also encourage newer writers (or writers with no formal education) to list screenwriting workshops, conferences, and online classes they have attended or participated in.

SCREENPLAY CONTESTS. This is another hit and miss. But there is a community in the entertainment industry that considers winning or placing in screenplay contest a huge honor. I don’t care how big or small the contest was, if your script WON, promote it, list it! List the contest title, the genre you won, and the year/month. Be sure to list the script’s title that won, too. You never know when a company might ask to take a peek. You can also list your Film Freeway or Coverfly profile.

  • Even if your scripts have placed but never won in a contest, you can still include them on your résumé. While it shouldn't be the main focus, it's certainly worth mentioning and something to be proud of. Don't overemphasize it, but it's an accomplishment worth bragging about.

EXPERTISE IN SUBJECT MATTER. Suppose you come across a job posting on Screenwriting Staffing's Job Board that's seeking a screenwriter to write a sports movie centered on baseball in the Midwest. If you hail from the Midwest, have played baseball extensively during your upbringing, or presently reside in the region, it might be worth mentioning this to the employer. Additionally, if you already have a produced screenplay featuring baseball, it could be your lucky break to secure the job. If you possess practical real-world or writing experience in the subject matter listed, don't be hesitant to highlight it. However, please refrain from overstating your connection or familiarity with the employer's subject matter to land the job. This approach seldom yields positive outcomes.


OTHER PUBLICATIONS.  If your résumé is chock-full of amazing screenwriting skills, experience, and credits, I’d leave this part out. But if most of your writing success has come from other forms of writing, list it, and be damn proud of it. This is where you would list your most accomplished publications -- books, articles, short stories, and poetry. Remember, this section is essentially here to add more credibility and diversity to your writing career – but it’s in no way a testament to your screenwriting ability, so don’t spend TOO long listing out your 25+ online articles.


OTHER PUBLICATIONS, CONT... If you have any published work related to screenwriting or the film industry, this is the section to showcase it. This includes books you have authored on screenwriting, articles published in a reputable digital screenwriting magazine, or popular blogs you've written that have gained attention in the writing and film-making community. Additionally, if you have ever been interviewed by a publication about your films or screenwriting services, it's worth including in this section.


AGENT/MANAGER. First, let’s be clear: Agents help with selling your work, finding assignments, and negotiating contracts. Managers nurture and guide a screenwriter’s career. A lot of people think this section is pointless: Why? They believe if you have an agent, why would you need to be sending out your résumé? Well, just ask any “average Joe” screenwriter – with an agent –  how often their agent finds them “paid” assignments. I digress. The point is, list your agent and/or manager here. If your agent has sold some work for you, share this with the employer. But at the end of the day, this section is only to give validation to your screenwriting career. Having a literary agent is quite an achievement. But be careful about flaunting this. There are indie producers who do NOT want to work with agents and managers. So do your due diligence before advertising this accomplishment. (note: you can always negotiate so that where the contract is made between you and the producer, not the agent). Sign up for premium to connect with agents.


ENDORSEMENTS. It can be a game-changer in your career to have the right endorsement from a reputable entertainment professional. But what kind of endorsements should you include in this section? Consider quoting the endorsement of a producer who loved your screenplay or screenwriting work, sharing a brief excerpt from a recommendation letter sent by a screenwriting professor, or including positive reviews of your film from local newspapers. These are just examples, as endorsements can come from a variety of sources. However, an endorsement is only valuable if the endorser is at least somewhat well-known in the industry. Keep in mind that it's crucial to ask for permission before including an endorsement on your resume or website.


OTHER SCREENWRITING EXPERIENCE. Depending on your background, this part can be the MOST essential part on your résumé. This is where you would list any experience that deals directly with screenwriting/development, but NOT as the screenwriter. 2 simple examples would be: script reader for a screenplay contest, or a development assistant for some major studio. Depending on the employer, they may not be familiar with a particular “job” title. So be sure to describe your job role.

  • If you have NEVER worked in the industry in a “development” role, but have worked on-set, post-production, or distribution, you can list it here. Just like I mentioned in the “PUBLICATION” section, if you choose to list your non-screenwriting “film” work, make it short and sweet – this is ONLY to prove to the employer you have experience in the “industry.”

SKILLS/SOFTWARE. The employer must know what software you are skilled in. So if you know how to use Final Draft, WriterDuet, Celtx, Squibler, then list it. You should also list the software you OWN. Most times, the employer will expect you to write on your own time, so you must own at least one script software. This isn’t just limited to screenwriting software. While it may already be implied, some employers want to know you can work with them via Zoom, Skype, Google Docs, and Excel. Listing essential skills on your résumé is not always mundane

  • If you are known for writing “two-character” thrillers in single locations, with budgets as low as $30,000, you can list this here. But you must have a proven and successful track record in the genre or budget you are promoting.

FINAL THOUGHTS,  ADVICE, & CAUTIONS:

  • If you have NOT sold a screenplay before, be careful when boasting about your 20+ spec scripts gathering dust. I see this a lot on résumés and LinkedIn profiles. Producers often ask, "If you have a surplus of scripts, why are you unable to sell them?" Of course, selling a script is very hard, but do keep in mind anyone can write a screenplay, so unless you are just starting with little to NO experience, it’s not important how many scripts (and the titles of your scripts) you have written if they are all still unproduced.

  • In my opinion, boasting about your network is generally not advisable, unless the claim is entirely accurate. I have seen this more often than not on screenwriting résumés and profiles. Saying something like… “I boast a 500K network.” If it’s SO large, why have I NOT heard of you.

  • Always tell the employer where you found them. This is something we encourage all of our Screenwriting Staffing writers, both FREE and PREMIUM, to do when applying through our site. Our writers' success stories are a source of great pride for us, and our clients feel the same way. They want to know that you came through us. But that’s just an example. So no matter what, whether you found a job through an industry contact or Indeed, let them know from the start. By doing this, they can be certain that the message is not spam.

  • Avoid revealing your location. Unless the job demands you are located in a specific city, there is no point in listing your location. Most writing gigs these days are done remotely.

  • Writing groups are common and popular in larger cities. So if your résumé lacks any real screenwriting substance, don’t be afraid to throw your writer’s group on your resume. This does NOT include your screenwriting Facebook group, but actual groups where screenwriters meet in person and exchange ideas and notes.

  • At Screenwriting Staffing, most of our industry employers ask for a résumé and a script sample. But NOT a full script, just portions. In this industry, having at least two showcase scripts is essential because diversity is key. You need to be able to show you can write a feature, pilot, and commercial. Always have your work copyrighted.

  • I’m sure you're familiar with actor, cinematographer, and director online demo reels, right? Well, screenwriters should have them too. Of course, if your work has not been produced, or the quality is relatively low, this isn’t possible. But if you have access to footage, put together a reel on Vimeo or Youtube – trust me, it pays off!

  • Don’t tease the employer. What do I mean by this? I see so many screenwriters writing out a lengthy bio, pitching their “amazing” scripts, and how many years they ‘used” to live in Hollywood. Be concise and to the point. Use bullet points to outline your screenwriting career swiftly and clearly.

  • Lastly, and most importantly, APPEARANCE is everything. You hear this all the time in screenplays that the formatting appearance of your script can make or break a sale. The same applies to your initial e-mail and résumé to the employer. If your e-mail and résumé are scattered, lengthy, and tedious, this is EXACTLY how the employer will interpret your writing ability.

It takes ALL of us to build a strong, safe, and constructive SCREENWRITING community. So be sure to JOIN our popular LinkedIn & Facebook member-based

groups. Introduce yourself, share your story, and engage in friendly debate regarding industry-related topics! Be sure to also join our free membership: www.screenwritingstaffing.com/free-membership

Search screenwriting jobs and screenplay requests on our job/script search board: www.screenwritingstaffing.com/screenwriting-jobs-script-searches

If you are you an industry professional or buyer searching for your next screenwriter or screenplay, you can post here for free: www.screenwritingstaffing.com/industry-professionals

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This article was written by Jacob N. Stuart. Jacob N. Stuart is the Founder of Screenwriting Staffing, an online community that connects screenwriters and screenplays with film and television entertainment professionals. Since 2013, Jacob has helped facilitate over 300 success stories (sales, options, hires, and representation), most notably a Christmas movie produced by Hallmark in 2017. Here is a small list: www.imdb.com/search/title/?companies=co0524287

Jacob is also an award-winning and produced screenwriter, with over a decade of film experience. His films have been screened at theaters across the globe, as well as distributed traditionally through dvd/blu-ray. He currently has 4 films (3 features, 1 short) on VOD, including the award-winning film AN ADDICTING PICTURE. He holds a Bachelors in both Film and Entertainment Business from The Los Angeles Film School. He has also written for other top industry publications, including Final Draft, Creative Screenwriting Magazine, and MovieMaker Magazine.

For more on Jacob:


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