By Sally Freeman
As an agency we deal with many different vacancies – acting doesn’t tend to be one of them. However, we do get actors and actresses through the doors from time to time, looking for work in between jobs – and I’m often asked for advice on writing an acting CV.
If you’re a new actor or actress, here are 5 tips to get your acting career started. If your roles are a little thin on the ground, here’s how to give your CV the boost it needs for success. First of all, let’s start with:
What is a CV?
If you’re a recent school leaver and are unfamiliar with what a CV is, let’s take a look. CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, and is the most commonly used format in the UK for applying when applying for a job or apprenticeship. But why is a CV used and what’s it do?
When an employer advertises for a job they want the right people to apply, so they list the requirements in the advert and give a brief background summary of the company. Whoever wants to apply needs to complete a CV which will display their credentials – skills, qualifications, career history, education, achievements, and so on. This will then allow the employer to go through the application they receive and choose the best candidates.
After reading a CV the employer can then decide if they want that individual to come into the business for a job interview. The interview is typically the final step before a decision is made on who to hire. So you can see that the CV is a very important document and needs to be written professionally when up against so many other applicants.
When it comes to the world of acting, the employer will often look at the head shots before reading the CV. The actor needs to look the part, and if they pass through this screening test it will then be onto the CV to see what background they have.
What should I include in my CV?
Every company will be looking for something different, so it’s important to take note of the requirements and tailor your CV to suit. This means you may have to re-write a new one from scratch every time you apply, so that you can present the relevant information.
An acting CV will often require more unique information to be present. Your experience as an actor will of course be very important, but certain personal information will be too. You may be required to detail your height, weight, overall appearance, and so on. Again, this will depend on what the job advert requests. However, if they don’t go into specifics you should still look to provide this kind of information. It will save you both a lot of time!
Your education section should include any acting training you’ve had so far. Only give specific details of GCSEs and A Levels that are relevant to acting (such as music, dance and drama).
Don’t dismiss any production you took part in at school, as this could be needed for a bare CV. Any workshops, acting classes, school plays, and amateur dramatics should be included – especially if you are at the start of your career.
Any degree or diploma should also be listed, along with the grade achieved. Finally, list any specific training you’ve had (for example, with an acting or vocal coach).
Is there just one format for an acting CV?
There are some decent acting CV templates on the web. This one is my favourite:
It’s probably one of the nicest I’ve come across. Acting CVs tend to follow a similar format, although this doesn’t mean to say you should stick with the format. Templates are designed to be customised to suit your needs. So when the job advert requests certain information, you can now edit your template to ensure it covers that.
Take special care to look at what is being requested of the actor, and the type of role you’re going for. Do you have any prior experience in that particular role or something similar? Do you have any skills or talents that fit well with the role? Then use that to your advantage and let the employer know that you’ve already covered this part.
How do I write a CV with little acting experience?
Everybody has to start somewhere, and even if you have little or no acting experience you can still write a great CV. The key to success is putting in the work and gaining that initial experience whenever and wherever you can find it.
Acting is very different to a standard entry level position. For example, if you were writing a CV and applying for a job in retail, you would be able to list your education and receive training on the spot if hired. It would probably not take too long to start serving customers and begin to act like any other team member. However, when it comes to the world of acting on the spot training is not really common.
The employer is well aware that an actor can be at the start of their career, but if you don’t present any training or experience then they cannot take the chance. They need something to go on, even if it’s just for a small part. So this is why you must take the plunge and get that experience today!
Drama clubs are very common and quite easy to find. They will often accept anyone willing to learn and dedicate themselves to the craft. This would be a great way to not only gain work experience for your CV, but to start your journey as an actor and gain lots of valuable skills.
Amateur dramatics is another great way to gain experience for your CV. Contact your local theatre to see if there is any available parts that you can be considered for. Try not to aim too high as you are aiming to just get your foot in the door. More parts will become available in the future once you are established with a group.
Training is also very important for any actor. The employer would want to see that you’ve attended workshops and can comply with standard acting roles. Look to try in as many aspects of acting as possible so you can stay versatile. This will open more doors for you and show your versatility as an actor.