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Secret Agent Man

Time to Fix Your Résumé

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Time to Fix Your Résumé
Photo Source: Pete McDonnell

It’s almost 10 p.m., and I’m out on my patio enjoying a glass of red wine. I just got home from a workshop, and I’m going through the pictures and résumés. It’s amazing. After all these years, I still see the same mistakes over and over. I’d like you to break this pattern, so here are my inner thoughts as I go through these résumés:

Actors always go too far with their statistics. All I really need to know is your height and weight. Eye color and hair color should be fairly obvious from the picture. And your inseam and suit size aren’t important. I’m not a tailor.

There’s absolutely no reason to include your home address. Doing so marks you as a clueless actor. And it could attract unwanted attention if you’re a young lady who’s easy on the eyes.

There’s also no need to include your age range, especially when most actors are so unrealistic about their appearance. No one, and I mean no one, plays 35–50. That’s just absurd.

I’m often handed résumés where the actor has written their phone number or email address. This means they forgot to include it when they typed up the résumé and that implies a drinking problem. So be careful. Have someone proof your final draft. And if you have to write any contact information by hand, please make sure it’s easy to read. Some of you write like you had your fingers broken in a North Vietnamese prison camp.

You shouldn’t list the name of the character you played in a movie or a series. The fact that you were hired to play Lance on “Criminal Minds” means nothing. But if you list that part as a Guest Star or Co-Star, then I have a better understanding of what you booked. The only exception is your theater section. It makes more sense to use the name of the character there, especially if it’s a famous play like “Death of a Salesman” or “Rent.” 

Speaking of the theater section, here’s a common mistake: Actors often list the director of the play but don’t include the name of the theater. Unless a famous Broadway director worked on your show, odds are I won’t recognize the name of your roommate who directed that last waiver play you did, so make sure you include the name of the theater.

There’s one mistake I see all the time and it really bugs me. Actors list “recurring” roles as “reoccurring” or, worse, “re-occurring.” Those aren’t real words. The correct word is “recurring.”

 To be clear, extra work is not acting and shouldn’t be included on your résumé. And don’t even think about lying by listing an extra job as a featured role. I will find out. I always do.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine to list student films, as long as you include the name of the school. You can’t just write “Student Film.” That doesn’t mean anything. UCLA or NYU does.

I want all of you to look up the meaning of the word “fluent.” Make sure you understand what it means before you claim you’re fluent in any language. I’m fluent in three, and I always test actors when I see one of those languages listed on their résumé. Care to guess how many couldn’t respond to a simple question in the language they’re supposed to be fluent in?

And that’s about it. It’s time to hit the sheets. Tomorrow is another day, one I’m sure will bring another stack of résumés that will set me off on yet another rant. Good night and pleasant dreams.

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