Featuring A Performing Arts Résumé

PERFORMING ARTSWhat kind of résumés are “eye-catching“ and “speak with confidence?”

Learning about résumés is always interesting. This book caught my eye:

“Résumés For the Performing Arts a VGM Professional Series.”  I want to give a

quick overview of what this book has taught me about résumés for the arts.

What if a performer wanted to merge a performing arts résumé  with a non-

performance style combination format? What they need only, is to show the

producer, their talent, and, to give it their all.

There are many good tips for résumé and cover letter writing in the book.

Performing arts résumés include few details that distract from the

relevant experiences/abilities of the performer. All stage experiences

are central and important. What matters foremost  is the performance; one

talent/ability that is given, and, drives the force inside them.

A performing arts résumé includes a description of the person’s height, hair

colour, eye colour, and weight, (measurements for costumes) as well as, a good

photo. The format is usually broken into columns and stays a page length.

Sections include most importantly, performance experience. It has short

paragraph sections and is divided into concise list form.  If a performer

is applying to be in a musical, they can include theatre, and, singing talents, yet, it

is best to keep this kind of résumé  as focused as possible. They can have several

résumés and only give the employer the most essential one. They can include

“extensive theatre background,” as long as it doesn’t detract from the résumé.

The résumé  needs to know what to include, and not include, and show that they

are perfect for the role.

Performers want to protect their passion, and rightly so. Résumés for non-

performance jobs are not usually this way. Usually they try to convey many

important skills and abilities focused on consumer/employee business results. The

performing arts résumés and cover letters are different, and interestingly so.

Not that one is necessarily better in terms of its value or values, yet simply

different. I am used to writing a non-performance résumé  and wanted to show

you how interesting the differences are. Maybe a marriage between the two

kinds of résumés, a combination format, would show what the client cares about

in performing, as well as a sound work history.  Performing arts résumés tend to

have less overall information.  Jobs that the performer has had are not put on the

résumé  or cover letter. In this way they feel different from a standard work

résumé .

Performance résumés contain information of a different kind as well. The

important information in a performing arts profession are singularly, the actual

performances themselves. A performer is a very focused person, their résumé

shows this.  It is not that usual résumés aren’t focused, but, the

résumé  document for performers is simpler and seems to involve more

emotionally felt, compact, knowledge.

There are many good elements of the regular sort of résumé of course, but,

theatrical people tend to be emotionally intelligent and are all for less talk, and

more action/drama for the crowd, so to speak. In performance, gestures, and

plays, content tends toward the non-verbal.  Performance résumés and cover-

letters are clear examples of the creative arts. Their format, where words are

used in highly concentrated form, and much white space is left, shows this.

Words in these résumés are powerful, they aren’t questioned, and, art content

has weight because it is heavy with emotional expression.  I love the non-verbal

aspect of the performance résumé .  A regular résumé  is all set up for skills and

abilities, to talk about in the interview, whereas the performance résumé almost

speaks for itself.  In performance arts one can talk about the actual performance

and not have to be distracted by having to answer questions that are sometimes

out there in left field, or seem all over the place. Performers are trusting of their

talents rather than expecting them to be proven during questioning, in words.

Performers don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

The book relates how the résumé writer for performing arts can write a

good résumé , even on little experience. These kinds of résumés compact

many linguistic qualities into few words; and there are no frivolities. Instead the

information is direct and contains clarity of feeling, meaning, and simplicity. Yes,

at times the language is through signs and symbols, the action in the plays, and it

has an eerie, resemblance with struggles of life,  but, the difference being most

performances have happy endings.

The performance résumé is direct in nature and action based. Its very nature,

unceasing,  mysterious,  always draws one in.  Most importantly, the résumés are

easy to read. It is easy to read especially for experts of different types of arts

performance. These résumé s focus on “inspiration and what appeals to the

performer” and what the performer feels is important to the employer/producer.

This kind of résumé is based on the goal of, appealing to the audience, and are

not based on monetary gain or results.

Education is the second most important element of the résumé  and cover

letter; one can tell that the people writing them appreciate their teachers’ strong

gifts and discipline.  A performance arts résumé includes headings such as “Special

Projects” and “Accomplishments.” Honours and Awards are success stories in the

performing arts.  The performer cares about the audience and leaving them

uplifted and awe-inspired.

Performance résumés should and mostly do involve roles within groups.

Customer service orientation is not how the performer and the producer vie for

a great show, they have artistic goals, rather than financial goals. Being part of

professional associations for the performing arts shows how performers stay up-

to-date and connected in their fields. In the performance résumé and cover letter,

talents are more crucial than the accumulation of many quantities of skills

and responsibilities. Performer’s work in harmony with each other.

Catching the attention of the reviewer is part of the performer’s language.

In the performance arts the focus is on respecting the talent and emphasizing

action. “Translate the facts you have gathered into the active, precise language of

résumé  writing.” This kind of résumé uses strong verbs and action words. They

characterize performers as energetic, and active in achieving results. They use

verbs to create a strong résumé ; without these commonly used verbs the

information is less direct and straightforward, less touchable . It is based on action

for the greater good and is certified with moral gumption and fortitude.

This book teaches the job seeker to write strong job descriptions in an action

oriented paragraph. Here a résumé says what you performed and what you are

capable of doing. This book explains to keep it more compact, one should not

write too much about themselves. The interview is the time to expand and have

dialogue.  The author says “try to make the employer a happy reader.” This book

advises one to continue to make changes to their résumés, until the necessary

information is emphasized.  It should be “neat and clean and direct” so that it

doesn’t lose any steam.  In a cover letter you only have to show a few

accomplishments; the rest is in the résumé . It should be as personal and as lively

as can be. Headings in a performance arts career résumé  are interesting: “Stage

Experience,” “Ensembles,” “Engagements,” “Festivals” “Recitals,” “Shows,”

“Repertoires!”  Aren’t you anxious now to review one?

Cover letter endings with these kind of résumés often go like this: “I would be

pleased to audition at any time.”  The performer takes great strides to please the

producer and employer, it is their chief goal.   A  performer’s talent is nourished,

maintained, by practise, and surpassed by discipline. They are eager to share it

with the producer, they live to impress. The performer holds high regard for the

producers, and, knows what is impressive in the employers work. They promise to

bring their talents to this end.  Good direction is vital, as well as cultivation of

talent.  I have learned much from this book as an introduction to performing arts

résumés and cover letters. We can step outside ourselves and appreciate where

all résumés are the same; what they need to share, an intensity, an energy, an

influence.   The book presents one-hundred résumé s, all with nice style examples.

The arts résumé  seems to have all it needs. Less is more. These résumé s are

moulded, dense with style, yet well-formed and trim. Interestingly enough they all  shout: “all the world’s a stage.”

Karen Hennig is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. Like what you’ve read? Be sure to read MCACESBlogs regularly for the latest job search tips, trends and info from our students! For more information, please contact Lidia Siino at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca. Happy reading! 

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