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Career advice is cheap, but it can become costly. Consider the source. Let's say you have spent a small fortune on new photos. The agent you are hoping will sign you looks at them and remarks that they don't look like you. Should you take his word for it? No. Seek other opinions.

More examples: A casting director is impressed with your résumé but wants to know why you omitted your undergraduate degree. Or why you are listing a driver's license under skills. Why is your height left off? Why are years listed next to certain classes or productions?

Who told you listing extra parts in features would get an agent interested in representing you? A manager once advised an inexperienced actor to list a movie role she had never played on her résumé. The first casting director the girl met knew she wasn't in that film; the embarrassed actor apologized and vowed she would never make that mistake again.

Phrases I have found particularly annoying over the years include: "I've been told..."; "I have heard..."; and "They said I should...." Who are "they"? There are too many know-it-alls who have been in the business for a week. Check credentials, longevity, integrity; you might discover you know more than a self-proclaimed "industry insider." Everyone has an opinion about your chances for success, and their opinions can address everything from your hairstyle or beard to your weight and need for plastic surgery to your diction and accent—even to how you should market yourself.

Actors have been told they shouldn't list degrees that have nothing to do with performing. But an actor who has another major is an educated and disciplined individual whose expertise in psychology, forensics, nursing, law, or history might be useful on a daytime soap or episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Height can be crucial: Many casting directors won't see you if it isn't on your résumé. They don't have time to contact you. Weight, however, should not be listed, because it is never accurate. Driver's licenses and passports are essential for photo ID but are not considered skills. Listing years next to your credits is irrelevant information.

Veteran actor Marian Seldes was told early in her career that she was too tall and would never play opposite anybody. "If you listen to that," she observed, "you can jump in the river. Those things are so insignificant. They are only significant when they keep you from working." And she has been working for more than 60 years.

There are respected industry professionals who teach classes about the biz, have written insightful books, and genuinely want to steer you on the right career path. These are the sources you should consider.

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