How to Create Resumés That Stand Out (And, Yes, You Probably Need More Than One)
If you’re pursuing a professional dance career, you’re probably used to wearing many hats—performer, choreographer, marketer, producer. Here’s another to add to your list: resumé generator. At any given time, you’ll likely need two very different resumés: one for performance gigs and one for stop-gap side jobs that often exist outside of the dance field. Though each requires a vastly different approach with little overlap, both require near-constant revision. “I always encourage dancers to tailor their resumés to every new job opportunity,” says Sophia Kozak, a career counselor at Career Transition For Dancers. “Don’t send a cookie-cutter resumé out to 50 places—it’s not going to land.”
The Dance Resumé
The basics: Include your name, height and contact information. If you’re represented by an agency, Bloc talent agent Shayna Brouillard recommends putting your agent’s contact information down, rather than your own. (If you aren’t represented, include your phone number and email.) “Recently, we’ve told clients to add their Instagram handle,” adds Brouillard. “With the lack of physical auditions, everyone asks for it.” Don’t worry about your follower count, she notes: “It’s more about the footage—just make sure it’s stuff that you’re proud of, that’s representative of you as a dancer.”
Jobs: Separate this section by type of media: TV/film, live performance, commercials, etc. Within each category, include the title of the job; your role (“Were you a dancer? The dance captain? In the ensemble? Be specific,” says Brouillard); the choreographer or director, and the TV or film network, if applicable. Brouillard recommends not including the year it happened.
Training: “I love when dancers separate their training into two categories: people who were your home studio teachers or mentors, and then any master classes or workshops you’ve taken,” says Brouillard. The former category is helpful if an agent needs to call someone to speak on your behalf. “That’s something we often do,” she says. The latter category is a way to demonstrate you’ve done the work to diversify your training and make connections.
Special skills: Save this section for the very bottom, says Brouillard, and keep it short. Include any assets you have, like aerial work, other languages, juggling or skateboarding.
Awards: “If you don’t have a lot of real experience yet, you can add any notable awards,” says
Brouillard, like a title or scholarship earned at a major competition.
• Don’t lie. “If you put Brian Friedman down as someone you’ve trained under extensively, and I call him and he doesn’t know who you are, that’s not good,” says Brouillard.
• Keep separate resumés for performance and choreography. Though your basic information will stay the same, the jobs, training and even awards in a choreographic resumé should focus on your, well, choreographic history, says Brouillard. “But it’s okay to include some of the highlights from either resumé on the other one,” she says.
• Don’t include an objective. “For a dance resumé, we’re assuming that your objective is that you want to be a professional dancer,” says Brouillard.
The Side Job Resumé
Intro: Kozak suggests opening your resumé with three to five main ideas that you’d like potential employers to see. This might be an objective—your goal in applying to this job—or, better yet, a summary of highlights that speak to your experience and applicable transferable skills.
Experience: List your work experience reverse chronologically, using bullet points to detail your role and how you impacted the organization. Even if that’s difficult to quantify, highlight any transferable skills. “Maybe you organized the client database, resulting in smoother, easier access and quicker response times for staff members,” Kozak explains. Don’t use more than one line of text per bullet point, and don’t list every job you’ve ever held—only include the jobs that connect to the one you’re applying to.
Education: The bottom-most thing on your resumé should be your education, says Kozak, listed in reverse chronological order.
• When possible, build connections in advance. “A resumé with some kind of reference to or contact with the organization is a great one,” says Kozak. “Reach out on LinkedIn, or do an informational interview with someone from the company.”
• Use context clues. Kozak recommends looking to the language of the job description to tailor your resumé. “If the employer is using certain terminology, use that lingo—clearly, it has meaning for them,” she says.
• Include a cover letter. “Even if they don’t ask for it,” says Kozak. In one page, explain who you are, why you’re interested in the job and how you align with the company’s vision.
Tips for Any Resumé
• Keep it all on one page. Anything longer than a single page won’t get read, at best, and might even work against you, at worst.
• Skip your references. Only add them if they’re requested.
• Nix the cursive font. “You want your resumé to be simple and read easily—nothing too busy,” says Shayna Brouillard, of Bloc talent agency.