6 Easily Avoidable Résumé Mistakes

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

My name is Secret Agent Man and it’s been 60 days since I attended a workshop.

I decided to take a break because I was burnt out on the whole workshop scene. Instead of finding promising talent, I was just finding material for this column. And quite frankly, I don’t need the money. I’d rather go home and spend time with Mrs. Secret Agent Man and my beautiful DVR.

But like most 10 percenters, I am addicted to talent. Nothing gets me more excited than meeting a performer who is genuinely gifted. That’s why I recently jumped at the chance to attend a showcase that was being held at a well-known acting school.

It had the same basic setup as a workshop, without the honorarium. The 20 actors took turns putting up scenes, and then we had a question-and-answer session. On the plus side, the level of talent was promising and I ended up bringing one of the actors in for a meeting. On the negative side, I saw more than a handful of basic résumé mistakes, the kind I’ve been seeing for years. So at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s address some of those mistakes right now with the hope we can eradicate them once and for all!

Six of the actors had their home addresses written on their résumés. And two had no contact information—not even an email address.

Under TV, a few actors listed the names of the characters they played as opposed to the credit they received. The fact that you were Mr. Ellison on “Criminal Minds” means nothing. I’d rather know if the part was a guest star or a co-star.

Several actors listed workshops they’d attended under Training. That’s a major no-no. Taking a workshop with an agent or a casting director is not the same as studying with an established teacher. I remember once seeing my own name on an actor’s résumé. Flattering but absurd.

READ: “Top Acting Schools in Los Angeles”

These are all minor mistakes that are usually made by inexperienced actors. Your level of ability is much more important, but I believe actors should always do their best to come across as professional. Remember, if you behave like a professional, others will treat you as one.

Now, here are some of the more entertaining moments from that showcase:

One of the actors gave me an autographed headshot.

Another could barely read his sides because his hands were shaking so badly. I can understand being nervous, but what’s going to happen if I sign that guy and send him out to audition for a network casting director?

A young lady wore so much perfume, I actually started to hallucinate.

Under Special Skills, one actor listed “Conversational American Sign Language.” (Just think about that for a moment….)

Word to the wise: Recurring and reoccurring do not mean the same thing.

And finally, do not print your résumé directly on the back of your headshot. What are you going to do if you have to update it? Or worse, do you really want to piss off a ticking time bomb like me by handing me a résumé that smears ink all over my hands, which I then proceed to smear all over my shirt? That’s the kind of behavior that makes me want to sign up for 10 more workshops!

Like this advice? Check out more from Secret Agent Man!

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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