In my work as a web developer creating acting sites, I often spend a lot of time helping clients format their bios, images, resumes, etc. This, on top of spending time on my OWN actor branding package! One of the most common questions I receive is: “Can you format my resume so it doesn’t look so sucky?” Yes, “sucky” is an official industry term. Fortunately, the answer to this question is yes. Today, I will focus on the content of your resume so it highlights the best of who you are and what you offer.
CLEAR THE DECKS FOR YOUR STATS
Let’s start at the top of your page. We want to see your name nice and big — big enough that it could be read from a few feet away, but not so huge that it looks like a mistake. Next should be your union affiliations — SAG-e, AEA EMC, SAG-AFTRA, and all the others — and contact info. This is not the place to put “seeking representation”. If you have no union affiliations, just leave this blank and move on to your contact info. Email and a phone number are standard. If it skeeves you out to put your phone number out there, you can get a virtual number that will forward to your phone. You can get a virtual number through Google Voice, CloudPhone, and Vonage, among others. List your website here as well if you have one.
Below your contact info is your stats. There are conflicting views these days on whether or not eye and hair color should be listed on resumes. Now that headshots are all in color, that info can be easily seen rather than read. I still leave that on mine because I’m old-school like that. Also list your height and, if you’re a singer, your voice range/part. Don’t include your weight, unless you’re extremely obese and you use that to book jobs. Don’t include your clothing sizes, either. These two pieces of info can vary greatly and are better left off.
CREDITS (OR, LEARN TO LOVE THE WHITE SPACE)
If you have an existing resume, take a good, long look at it. Read every line, every little detail with a critical eye. Are you still packing your credits from grade school on there? Is every teensy-tiny detail about your size, skills, teachers, favorite animals and what you did last summer listed? Do you spot any info that doesn’t belong or just taking up space?
Now grab yourself a nice colored pen. Red works, and purple is fine too — whatever you fancy. Go through your resume and SLASH those credits like a swashbuckler. Cross out all but three to five of your best credits per section (film, TV, theater, etc.). Take those grade school and high school credits — heck, your college credits if you’re in your 30s — OFF. Leave only your very best work, the work you would love to showcase and discuss. I realize this is counter-intuitive, but we want as much white space as possible on this pretty little baby. No tiny fonts, tiny margins, or packed paragraphs. Just a nice list of your best work that can be skimmed in like 0.3 seconds before the start of your audition or meeting.
There is another huge debate over whether credits should be listed chronologically or not. I’ll stamp my foot down and say a hearty “NOPE” to that foolish idea! I stand firmly on the belief that credits should be listed best first. Like I said before, list only three to five per section. You will prove your professionalism more convincingly by listing three strong films that you were the lead in rather than the four most recent web series you did where you played bit parts or had no lines at all.
CAN YOU BURP ON COMMAND?
Below your credits are your training and skills. Start with training and make a little list of where you studied and with whom. Again, let’s cherry-pick here. Put down only your best and most known or memorable training. In the skills section, list ONLY skills you can perform excellently when asked to in any situation. Be sure to end the section with something conversation-worthy. “Burp on command” is always a winner here.
Remember, every part of your actor’s business kit is a reflection of you as a performer. Don’t let a messy resume be the boulder in the path of your big break!
The complete resume series:
- How to Create a Pro Acting Resume: Content Overview
- How to Create a Pro Acting Resume: The Nitty-Gritty (Formatting)
- How to Create a Pro Acting Resume: Turn It into a PDF!