Although your portfolio and reel matter the most, a resume is important too. Your resume is a summary of background, skills, and qualifications. It is often the first document your audience sees and, like your creative practice, your resume is always in a state of growth and development.
The word resume and curriculum vitae (CV) are often used interchangeably. To add to the confusion, the arts & design field include an artist resume as well.
In general, use a resume when applying for positions outside of academia, and possibly unrelated to your art discipline (administrative positions, other office jobs, etc.). Use an artist resume primarily when applying to positions with commercial galleries, museums, exhibition opportunities, and certain grant applications. Finally, create a CV when considering academic employment in higher education.
When it comes to choosing a format, some arts or media organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics, or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. Keep in mind that regardless of the audience, the interest is in quality content over a highly-designed document. In fact, some may view overly-designed resumes as a tool for masking a lack of experience. Use work samples and your online portfolio to show your design skills so you can keep your resume content-focused.
Your cover is meant to achieve two goals: to demonstrate your genuine interest in the opportunity and to explain why you are the MOST qualified person for the job.
Use your personality and tell your own story.
Tell a story that connects to why you are interested in the position, "which is why I am applying to..." what that position is, and what are some of the qualifications that you have for that position.
Keep the cover letter short (less than one page) and written in the tone of the organization.