Critiques: Your Resumés

The following example resumés accompany "The Actors Voice" column by Bonnie Gillespie posted here:

"Critiques: Your Resumés"

Click on any resumé to enlarge it.
Brandi's resumé is good, overall. It's missing the inches notation on your height (5'5"), it doesn't need to advertise that you're non-union (we assume that, if you don't list unions--unless your credits are clearly so high-profile that we assume you are in all of 'em), and I'd warn against mentioning something like being a "professional blogger," as some producers won't want someone who might be the next Perez Hilton, sharing secrets from the set. I'm not certain whose resumé this is, because Jacque (a parent, I assume) sent it on behalf of an unnamed child. There is also no contact info. Hopefully, that was just for the sake of getting the content reviewed (but worth mentioning, just in case). Other notes: include date of birth for minors, not age and age range. No need to include objectives like on corporate resumés. Get specific about which "YouTube skits" starred your child. And I'm not sure that computer proficiency is a castable "special skill." Generally, Elizabeth's resumé is awesome. It's missing the inches notation on the height (many, many actors leave this off for some reason), but has neat things I love like a category for awards. The only major problem I see is the lack of any direct contact information (at least a website, if not an email address and/or cell phone number). Yes, I know you love your manager, but if you two part ways, his job is not to help me find you, it's to sell me the "new you" from his roster. Always include on your resumé some way for us to find your current number (like via your website).

Love the header for film/TV combined (great before there are a larger number of credits in each section) that Amy is using but if you're looking for an LA-style resumé, that section comes before theatre credits. Also, use the three-column format for the film/TV section, just like you did with theatre. Also, height measured in inches only is a bit odd. Otherwise, all good! Love love love Jennifer's resumé. Use of color: awesome. Use of asterisks to indicate premieres: awesome. Specificity in special skills: awesome. Highlighting a phenomenal review in the footer: awesome. The only two changes I'd make are putting the soundtrack credit below on-camera credits and removing the lone character name in the billing of the second film listed. Billing is all you need, but if you feel you must note the character name, do that parenthetically, rather than the billing that way. Also love Kevin's resumé. Great use of "mini me" headshot, plus Kevin told me in his email that he had done a lot of Resumé Feng Shui, which makes for a very focused, streamlined resumé. Pro-level credits (no more student films or out-of-market projects, no more nonunion TV which would distract us from the "biggies" in that section, representative theatre credits rather than a long list of everything, and very focused "I can do it Right This Instant" special skills rather than everything he's somewhat good at doing. Fantastic, Kevin!

Miguel is another actor making use of resumé real estate in one of my favorite ways: quoting a few words from a great review. Very nice. Also love the use of asterisks to denote film festival wins and a combined film and TV section. The use of italics to indicate projects shot in Spain is a very nice touch. And mentioning the passport and work permits is essential for working actors in Europe. Well done! Claudia, however, is an international actor whose resumé is not at all standard, if we're looking at a goal of going "LA style" with the format. An acting resumé doesn't need a header (like "curriculum vitae," used here). I believe Claudia has added a pronunciation key to her last name, which isn't essential to do. Listing nationality is something we'd never do, here, but if that's standard in your market, I s'pose that's okay. (cont'd -->) Another thing that seems standard in international resumés, but that you'd never do in an LA-style resumé is listing dates and going to multiple pages. LA resumés are almost always a single page and you'd never want to limit your credits by including the dates affiliated with the work. Finally, listing professional work as a police officer would never be done so prominently on an LA actor's resumé. Proficiency with firearms could go in a special skills section, but otherwise, you want to downplay non-acting career experience on the acting resumé.

Sasha's resumé includes information such as "11 as of November 2009," which is an effective way to provide a young actor's age without sharing date of birth, which some folks are nervous about doing. I also like that her status as a homeschooled child is listed. Sometimes that can make a difference! Also love the specificity of the special skills (basic, junior blackbelt, soprano, etc.). The only change I'd make is choosing either italicized or quoted titles, but not both (and truly, you need neither, as we know the first column is a list of titles even without special formatting). Jennifer's resumé is generally good. I would flip the film and theatre sections, for an LA-style resumé, but if you're working in New York, this is probably more standard for your market. There are large gaps between your film credits, which is a little distracting, visually. Also, not sure why you've used a semicolon between Southern and Yiddish (a comma makes more sense), and you need a comma before Fencing. Love the "ongoing" note after the name of an instructor with whom you're currently training. Very nicely done. Phyllis' resumé includes her home address. Nooo! You aren't sending out the resumé so people will mail you things or come visit (and you know most of your submissions will end up in the trash). Don't give out info like your address or Social Security Number 'til you're hired. (Yes, I've seen that happen!) I'd merge the two theatre sections, and take off all of the dates. Also lose character names in the film section and turn your special skills section into a block-style, comma-separated list of items. Same note about the inches mark in your height. Oh, and no need to mention that your professors were doctors or MFA-holding instructors. It's your resumé, not theirs.

I have only one comment on Jennifer's resumé: put the inches notation in your height (make it 5'7" rather than 5'7). Otherwise, everything is great. Simple, clean, and informative without being cluttered. Love Devin's resumé. We've had a chat on Hollywood Happy Hour about out-of-market phone numbers and I love that you've confirmed your geography right on the resumé, so there's no confusion. Next edit, you might want to minimize the scene study section, but as you're building experience, it's okay. Helenna's resumé is almost perfect. I love the new media category (this is wonderful when you have several high-profile Internet projects). I'd note episodes parenthetically rather than using quotation marks, and remove the spaces on the right side of every slash used in the third column. Dual citizenship is definitely worth noting and I love the specificity of the special skills. I'd lose the parenthetically noted "short" for each of the short films. We really don't need to know that.

Yes, I already showed you Brandi's downloadable resumé, but this is her Actors Access profile, which I've included because I love that she's combined the film and TV sections and... (cont'd -->) ...she includes her local hire status and the fact that a more detailed and regularly updated resumé is available at her website. Great use of space in the online profile at Actors Access! Christa's resumé includes industrials, which is fine in a minor market. Love the specificity of the special skills (casual singing) and website listed in the footer. I'd use the tab button for that center column, rather than the more ragged-looking true centering, but otherwise great!

LJ's resume is from a minor market, so I'll say the industrials can stay (you'd pull those off in Los Angeles). Add your direct contact info (see above). Looks like you've used the space bar rather than the tab key to space out your columns, and that's no good. Keep it clean by tabbing! I don't love the all-caps presentation, but it's not awful. If you send a Word resumé (or provide that on your site), you're trusting that we have your fonts installed on our machines. We may not, and that could throw your formatting all off! Love the "really bad golf" skill. My husband has that on his resumé too! Jim's Actors Access profile does a lot of things right. He indicates which people are directors in the third column (with the use of "Dir." as the notation) and also lists production companies (remember, I love making use of the most important information, rather than being militant about only listing directors' names or only listing production companies or networks, etc.). (cont'd -->) I also love that Jim mentions the types of commercial credits he has had running, but doesn't list the specific commercials (which could make folks see a conflict where none may exist). Super happy about his use of the space on the second page of the Actors Access profile to list URLs at which we can get more information (his website, a link to his reel, his IMDb page). Very smart!

I'm sharing Sage's Actors Access profile for one reason: To demonstrate that when you are working at a tier or two above where you started out, and on your way to becoming a household name, (cont'd -->) don't need to try and pack your resumé with "little credits." A minimalist resumé helps us focus on how awesome your credits really are. We're not distracted by the "tier below" stuff you did years ago. Outstanding! Love the "mini me" headshot on Christa's resumé, plus commercials upon request and a web section. I'd remove the character names from the film section and the billing from the theatre section (we all know Cosette is a principal role). Love the "nostril flaring" special skill and the only formatting issue seems to be the "Audition Better" training. It's a larger font and underlined, which doesn't look good.

PJ doesn't need to share that he's non-union on his resumé but he does need to include some direct contact information. The order of the three columns (which need to be separated by tabs) is flipped. The project goes first, then the billing, then the production company or director. I'd put the Internet section before theatre and check to see if the font used in the college training section is smaller than the rest. Also, this is one of those times when you must do a double-check to be sure the margins aren't getting cut off, on others' computers. Kalimba offers a downloadable resumé from her website, but it has popped to two pages and has formatting issues due to the Word problem I mentioned above. Offering a Word doc is never as good as offering a PDF, because you're trusting we have your fonts installed, and we might not!Love that she includes her website and direct contact info. (cont'd -->) I'd watch the use of asterisks instead of bullet points as formatting options in the resumé. We may think you're telling us to look at the footer for the asterisk to be resolved, otherwise. Looks like the special skills header isn't bold and is missing a colon, if you meant to have it formatted like headers in the rest of the document. Also, I'd lose the parenthetical S in each of the special skills, since you are listing multiple items each time. It's not like you don't mean to use the plural each time.

Jessica's is a good out-of-market resumé, which means it's okay to include commercials and industrials, and possibly even your dress size, which you'd rarely see on an LA-style resumé. The center tab stop is off if you compare the theatre section to those above and below it. Love the parenthetical notation of film festivals associated with projects. I like the inclusion of Los Angeles training, even on an Atlanta resumé. That can carry weight. The biggest issue is the agency logo. It's flipped! Have you not noticed that? Ack! Greg's resumé is great with the use of the "mini me." I'd get rid of the age range, add the inches notation on the height, and take out the header of "title, part, company, director." We know what the sections are without that guideline. Love that you noted how many episodes you did of certain TV shows. Don't need to know if a film was a feature or a short. I can always look that up on IMDb if it matters. And, as with the other international resumés, I'd get rid of the years where they're listed. Yashir's resumé is generally good, but do we really need three instances of agency information (up top and twice at the bottom)? And of course, I'd like to see your contact info included. I'd love a little breathing room between each major section. I'd get consistent on the center tab stop, as it's sometimes more centered than others. Not sure the poly sci degree is worth noting on an acting resumé, but it's not a problem either. What is a problem is that you've misspelled principal. The size of the role is described using an adjective, that adjective is principal (you can remember it's an adjective because of the letter A in the word). Love that you've added a YouTube link for reference in your standup section.

I'm generally okay with Kimo's resumé, but I'm not sure the heading "production experience" is correct. It looks like all of this is theatre work, which is cool, but I'm not sure you need to split up the two types of theatre credits like this. Maybe that's best in your market, though. You asked in your email about adding projects on which you've "come close." Nope. Don't do it. Mention those in cover letters or meetings if you feel the need to do so, but they're not credits, so they don't go on your resumé. Be patient. You'll get 'em! Looks like Hannah's Australian resumé is another two-pager, like the European ones. For LA-style, you're going to want to take off the header (curriculum vitae), remove your date of birth (that's only for people under 18), and remove all dates associated with your credits. Next, let's re-order the sections. First, for LA, would be your film section (and it looks like you're listing extra work among your principal acting credits. Don't do that). Next section would be TV. (cont'd -->) Third section is stage, then your education/training is fourth. Finally, your special skills, which get listed in a block of text, separated by commas. I'd cut the crew items, list of references, block of websites (just one is enough), and I'd find a way to put the items you have listed as "other" in an existing section (maybe you could retitle the stage section to "live performance" to include the simulated car crash project). Generally, music videos are not included on acting resumés in Los Angeles. All of these changes should get you to one page, which is what you're shooting for!

Remember, a resumé is not a list of everything you've ever done; it's a marketing tool! So, listing everything may make you feel better, but if it doesn't teach us how to cast you next, it's not helping you. Think about how you're most likely to be cast. That's what your resumé should be selling.