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The Basics of Your Resume

Amanda Charney gets helpful tips from working actor Dan Sanders and director/actor John Rubinstein. logo

Sending around a headshot and resume? Hope you checked out last week's article, because this week I'm bringing you tips and tricks for the latter! Working actor Dan Sanders and director/actor John Rubinstein are back to share the ins and outs of resumes--and it turns out, you shouldn't stress too much! As long as you have a few basics down, you're golden!

The most important element of one's resume is truthfulness. Dan says, "Tell a couple of white lies if you must (and early on you probably must), but don't get carried away and start making up credits for network shows you've done nothing but watch. Somewhere along the line you will get caught, and you will be both humiliated and branded as a liar."

John Rubinstein wholeheartedly agrees that "The resumé should be truthful, so you're never stuck having to make up a bunch of bull. Mostly, they will never mention anything they see on your resumé -- but it could come up! So don't write that you acted with someone you never met, were directed by the great so-and-so, whom you also never met. If you feel your resumé is too short, then put down all the college work you did. Or even something from high-school that was significant or carried some weight. No point saying anything that isn't true."

But what if you are self-conscious about not having a laundry list of impressive roles? Dan reassures you that it's not as bad as it seems. "It's okay to put nothing but school credits on a resume if that is all you have done, because it usually means you're young and that is a very good thing in a business where almost everyone shaves a few years off their age. Casting people and agents love the idea of discovering somebody young, so a resume with minimal credits is not necessarily a bad thing if you have extraordinary talent, looks, or - especially - both."

Here's a breakdown of resume dos and don'ts: 1) Do not include: hobbies, references, misspelled words, handwriting, or misrepresentation of your actual union status. 2) Put your name, vital stats, unions if any, and contact information at the top. 3) Divide your credits underneath by television, film, commercial, and stage. If you don't have any TV credits yet, don't put the word "NONE" after that heading - just skip that category and move on to one where you do have credits. 4) End the resume with a quick list of special skills you have. Simple as that. It's a lot like what the headshot must convey - an accurate representation of who you are right now.

Keep in mind: this is a professional acting resume, not one that would be used for jobs or interviews for non-performance positions (for tips on that, see my article What To Do With a Degree in Theatre...). What a director is looking for is evidence that they know what they're doing, and a quick reminder of who they are and what their skill-set might be. Give an accurate portrayal in your resume of who you are and what you can do--it's a tool to help others remember you and see just how talented you are!

I hope these two weeks of headshot/resume tutorials helped you as you head off for your exciting summer plans! Get new headshots, update your resume, and get out there!


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