How to Put Together a Winning Resume

Who you are: The heading of your resumé should always contain your most up-to-date contact information. This includes your name, phone number, e-mail, date of birth and height. When listing your height, avoid using fractions and round off to the nearest inch. Also remember that your e-mail address should be professional. Employers and agents might be hesitant to contact you at “sexylittlebabygirl@aol.com.”

Performance experience: This section should contain your career highlights, including commercials, music videos, industrials, movies and cruises. Include the names of shows you were in, followed by the name of the show’s choreographer (in parentheses), the company that did it and the role you performed. Show titles should always be in italics. While your performance experience may include anything from the annual recital at your local studio to your spotlight performance as Clara in The Nutcracker, you should list only the performances most relevant to the job you’re seeking or the most recent. There is no need to include your role as a bluebird in your preschool performance of Cinderella.

Awards: This part of the resumé is the place to do some bragging. Highlight your distinctive assests in this section, like the first-place medal you received at Nationals or the exceptional score you received on your Royal Academy of Dance examination. Don’t list every competition you’ve attended or the score of every dance you’ve performed. Employers and agents don’t have time to read all that, and probably won’t be impressed to learn that your elementary school tap routine to “Please Mr. Postman” got a silver medal. Keep this section brief.

Dance training: Here, create a chronological list, starting with the most recent, of all schools and/or academies where you’ve studied dance. Include the name of the school, the teachers you trained with, the time you spent there, the forms of dance you studied and any scholarships you received. If you attended a workshop or summer program that was particularly interesting and pertains to the job you’re applying for, list it. For example, if you’re auditioning for the Rockettes, mention if you’ve attended the Rockette Experience Workshop.

Education: If you’ve been a dancer since you were young but have performed only once in your studio’s annual recital, it would be a good idea to indicate your current school or any organization from which you’ve received a diploma or degree. This would include where you went to high school and the degree you received, as well as the college you’ve been accepted to and your anticipated major or degree. Always start with the most recent and work backwards. However, if you have a large range of experience, a potential employer won’t be as concerned with your non-dance education.

Special skills: This is a non-dance-specific section, but it could be what separates you from other candidates in your field. This part of your resumé can include anything from special movement training, such as martial arts or contortion, to a foreign language you’re fluent in. Once again, make sure that what you list is important to the job you’re after. A performance company won’t be interested in the fact that you like reading poems in your free time.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Resumé Writing:

Do…

  • Proofread and spell check.
  • Keep your resumé objective. Avoid describing yourself as the best or a top dancer.
  • Make sure all of the information you provide is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Limit your resumé to one page.
  • Get rid of what you’ve outgrown and highlight what is recent.
  • Keep the language in your resumé simple.
  • Choose a font that is readable.
  • Make sure your resumé is standard letter size and is stapled to the back of your most recent headshot.

Don’t…

  • Lie.
  • Go overboard. If you’re asked to submit your resumé and headshot, don’t include a 3-ring binder of photos and reference letters.
  • Correct your resumé in pen or white-out after it’s printed.
  • Fold your resumé. If you have to mail it, buy a large envelope.
  • Overuse “cutesy” things like asterisks or exclamation points.
  • Include the word “resumé.”
  • Make your resumé a numerical list.
  • Include information that comes from anyone else, like a message from your parents. If a company requires references, you can provide those after your resumé has been submitted.
  • Write in paragraph form. Instead, use bullets to distinguish each point from the next.
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