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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy reading!