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A Résumé for Success

By Emily Yewell Volin.

It’s job hunting time and you’re ready.  You’ve spent countless hours training with the best teachers you can find, coiffed your image, and know the type of position for which you are qualified.  You’ve accumulated a dancer’s artillery of audition essentials including a bag stocked with every type of shoe and attire you might need, as well as knee pads and emergency hair accessories. Problem is; you may never have the opportunity to showcase your talents and incredible style if you haven’t developed an eye catching résumé.  The audition is a dancer’s job interview.  Here are some tips for writing a résumé that will get you booked for an audition appointment (interview) or get your information (and you!) noticed during an open call.

1.  Keep It Short and Simple
Many of us had teachers or advisors who encouraged the popular KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) mantra for written work and project management. The same principle is beneficial when applied to the creation of your résumé.  The best résumés are a single page in length with easily read font selection and size and clearly articulated sections.  The use of wildly colored or patterned papers and other attention grabbing tactics are not advised. These devices typecast you before you are ever seen. Personalization of your résumé is best accomplished by including a small thumbnail of your headshot (typically at the top), within the document.

2.  Know Your Audience
How do you keep a résumé to a single page?  Consider drafting several versions of your résumé so you may highlight information relevant for a particular position. Your teaching résumé will be different from your performance résumé, which will be different from a résumé highlighting your choreographic experience or administrative background. There are positions for which you will need to compile all information about your professional experiences. Consider creating a maximum 2 page résumé for positions of this sort. 

3.  What’s Unique About You?
Don’t be bashful, you know your strengths and they are exactly what an audition director wants to know about you. Technical and performance proficiency will only get you through a first cut and maybe as far as a call back.  Once you’ve made it to that point, it’s your responsibility to clearly articulate and showcase your strengths. Including a ‘strengths’ section on your résumé helps spark interest in you and initiates conversation or showcases your competencies.  That said, your résumé is not the place to address political or religious views.  Inclusion of information regarding these affiliations should be kept vague.  For example; ‘President:  Local Membership for a Major Political Party’ and the accompanying responsibilities of that position are enough information to prove the breadth of your service within an organization.  Employers are not legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of these and other issues of free speech.  Nonetheless, your résumé is no place to discuss politics or religion.

4.  Honesty is the Best Policy
Be honest about your experiences and physical attributes, and focus on the positive. An audition is often about filling a role that has already been created. It is essential for directors to have accurate information about your dance experiences as well as your actual height, weight, hair color, eye color, and other relevant information unique to the job. Many positions are cast according to a pre-made costume or staging into which a new cast member must fit without complication. Other positions are cast by finding someone who has a breadth of professional experience and is a quick study. Or at times directors search for someone who is a raw talent that can be molded to a particular technical style or look.  Do not waste anyone’s time by misrepresenting yourself.

5.  Keep it Current
It is preferable to update your résumé before every audition you attend. Be sure your contact information is current and that there is a way to contact you if the résumé is placed into a file and pulled out at a later date. Many auditions that do not result in immediate hire do result in fantastic networking opportunities. It’s the familiar “don’t call us, we’ll call you” line.  Don’t let a disconnected mobile phone number or an out of service email keep you from future opportunities. It is also advisable to maintain a simple and low cost résumé website. There are many hosting companies that offer easy to manage templates.  Include your web address on your paper résumé alongside your phone number and email. Maintain your website to include current contact information and résumés. A helpful tip is to be sure you only post your résumé in .pdf format so it may not be modified (intentionally or accidentally) by those who download it.

6.  Treat Your Résumé Like a Ticket
Your résumé is your entry ticket to the future you desire.  Keep a few copies of it ready to mail at a moment’s notice.  Many positions open suddenly and require quick casting.  If you are attending an open audition, be sure to arrive with a clean and unwrinkled version in hand.  If you must fold your résumé in order to mail it to a prospective employer, keep the folds crisp.

A thoughtfully scripted and well presented résumé will work for you.  Take the time to present yourself well on paper. A great résumé will result in more opportunities for you to realize your goals and the occasion to show off that fabulous new audition ensemble. 

About Emily Yewell Volin
Emily Yewell Volin has been teaching in university and college programs since 1998.  She earned her MFA from the University of Arizona and also holds a BS in Education from Loyola University Chicago.  Yewell Volin currently resides in the Atlanta area where she is an Instructor in Dance in the  Agnes Scott College Dance Studies Program.  She is also scheduled as a visiting Teaching Specialist at The Emory University Dance Program during the Fall 2010 semester.  Emily served as faculty member of the prestigious USA International Ballet Competition Dance School that convened in Jackson, Mississippi, this June and recently completed the creation of a commissioned K-6 dance assembly program in collaboration with Young Audiences Woodruff Arts Center.  She is an active board member to The D.A.I.R. Project, the Jazz Dance World Congress, and the Young Audiences Woodruff Arts Center Program Committee.

Photo: © Kostyantine Pankin | Dreamstime.com

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