A sloppy resume can be a make-or-break for any actor. Learn how to format your resume to the industry standard.
Is there a scarier prospect to a working professional than the word: resume? The word can spark fear into the hearts of even the most organized - and for actors the question can be even more daunting:
How is an acting resume different from a business resume?
How do structure it?
What are talent agents and casting directors looking for?
What should I include?
With a headshot and resume being your calling card in the industry, having a well-formatted resume is essential to establishing yourself as a professional actor ready to work.
A sloppy resume can be a make-or-break for any actor - so why not give yourself every advantage to make your resume the best it can be?
So what do you need on your resume?
TOP OF RESUME:
Your Name: this goes at the top in the largest font of the document. This should be your professional or “stage” name and should match the name listed on your headshot.
Contact Info: whether it’s your email and phone number or that of your agent’s, you need to make sure casting directors can easily find who to contact to book you on a role. If you can include your agency logo, even better. If you have an actor website, this is also the place to include it. Optional: you can include your stats like vocal range, union status, and even hair and eye color, height, weight, etc here as well. You might want to decrease the font size, so it doesn’t take up too much room by your name.
CATEGORIES Most resumes list projects in this order: film, TV, theatre, commercials, training, special skills. However, depending on what you’re auditioning for, you might want to consider having two resumes with different category orders.
For example if you’re auditioning for an on-camera project, feel free to list film, TV, and commercials before your theatre credits. If you’re auditioning for a theatre producation, you might want to list your theatrical credits before your on camera ones. (Training and skills are good remaining as the last two categories.)
Film: list the official name of the film followed by your role (by character name or PRINCIPAL, SUPPORTING, LEAD, EXTRA, etc). Lastly, list the production company and director. If it’s a short film, put that in parenthesis next to the name of the film. If it is a student film, you can list the school as the production company.
TV: list the name of the show, your role (character name, CO-STAR, GUEST STAR, RECURRING, SERIES REGULAR), and the production company or studio. If it’s a web series put that in parenthesis next to the project name.
Theatre: list the show, your role, and the theatre you performed at. If you have bounced around and feel the need to list the city, list the city after the theatre with a comma: i.e. Goodman Theatre, Chicago.
Commercial: list the product or client name, your role (i.e. STUDENT, CUSTOMER, MOM, DAUGHTER, etc), and the production company. Industrials can be listed this same way. If there are any product conflicts, you can list: “Conflicts upon request” under the commercial heading.
Training: First rule: keep your training honest! List the type of training or class name, the teacher, and the studio you trained at. For example: “Breaking Into the Business - Carole Dibo - Actors Training Center”. If you don’t remember the name of your instructors, you can also list your training by class, then studio, then location of studio. For example: “Breaking Into the Business - Carole Dibo - Wilmette, IL”.
Skills: this is a another place to make sure you are COMPLETELY honest about your abilities. It’s not uncommon for casting directors to ask about or ask to SEE a skill listed on your resume. So if it’s listed, you better be able to deliver. Skills commonly listed are: fluent languages, accents or dialects, impersonations, athletic training, special knowledge or know-how that could be useful to a project, etc. If you don't want to include your vocal range at the top of your resume, your skills category is another great place to list it.
So now you’re caught up with the “what” - now is the important part: the “how”. The way a resume is formatted is almost as important as what’s on it. Who cares if you’ve been a Grey’s Anatomy, done 12 films, or 100 plays? If your resume is hard to read or comprehend, none of those credits will matter. You want to make sure your resume is formatted to the standard expected of serious actors:
Rule of Three: the credits on your resume should be listed in three columns - with each column justified (oriented) to the left - meaning each new line lines up on the left side - no randomly indented credits.
Size Matters: depending on your level of experience and number of credits, you may have to adjust the size of your resume font. Sizes 10-12 are generally the most accepted. If you’re newer to acting with only a few credits or training, you still want to try and use as much of the page as possible. You can make your name a larger font to make it stand out - and a size 14 font might even be acceptable. As you gain more credits, you can decrease the font of your name and credits listed. What a happy problem to have!
Clean & Simple: Make sure whichever font you use for your resume is easily readable and professional (no Comic Sans or Edwardian Script - too hard to read!) Standard fonts are Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, and Georgia. Also, all resumes should be in black font. Never use a color other than black for your resume.
One Page Wonder: acting resumes are always one page. Full stop. If you are lucky enough to have enough credits that you need a second page - it means it’s time to edit that bad boy! Take off older credits or credits with less gravitas. Been in a few feature films now? You can take off that student film from 5 years ago. A one page resume is an industry expectation. If you want to refer a casting director to more of your credits, make sure all your credits are listed on your IMDb page or your personal acting website.
Use Spaces Wisely: Make sure you’re not jamming everything onto a page so there’s no breathing room for the eyes. Each category should have a line break between them so they are easily separated and easy to discern one credit from the other.
I know this might seem like a lot - it is! - but knowing the standard that the industry expects to see from its actors is crucial in making sure you stand out and are taken seriously as an actor. The more organized your resume looks, the more readily casting directors will want to work with you. The more you appear to understand how to prepare your own work properly, the more likely you are to prepare one of their scripts well..
Don’t let a poorly formatted resume be the reason you DON’T book a job. Take your time, choose what to include, format well, and show them your best YOU.
Now break some legs, actors!
-The ATC Team
Because of your interest in this article, we recommend the following workshops:
NO AGENT, NO PROBLEM - With self-tapes becoming more & more commonplace & casting notices being just a Google search away, there is no reason for an actor not to be auditioning. The ATC staff will teach you how to navigate audition sites & how to tape & edit a studio-quality audition from home. For 9th Graders - Adults.
Get registered HERE.
BREAKING INTO THE BUSINESS - This 1-day seminar is full of information that could otherwise take years to learn. A must for every actor - perfect for the new actor or parent & a necessity for returning actors looking to brush on the ever-changing expectations of the industry. For ages 12+. Get registered HERE.