Tips and Tricks for Headshots and Resumes
As a dancer, your headshot and resume are your “business card” in the industry. Here are a few helpful tips to make them stand out:
- Hire a professional photographer. While your best friend might take some free photos of you with a digital camera, the trained eye and helpful advice of a professional photographer is usually worth the expense.
- Look like YOU! The casting director will (hopefully!) keep your headshot as he or she makes callback and casting decisions. If the casting director doesn’t recognize you/remember you from your headshot, he/she is likely to toss your headshot to the side.
- Be natural. Come to the shoot looking clean and put together, but keep your makeup and styling fresh and natural. Practice your “poses” the night before. Keep your poses organic and true to your personality. Oh, and be sure to act your age!
- Know the job. Research the audition you’re attending and make sure your headshot choice is in line with the job – a bright and smiley commercial headshot versus a more mature headshot for straight theater. Always have at least two contrasting options on hand.
- Update your headshot every few years or whenever you make a significant physical change such as a drastic haircut or a change in hair color.
- Keep it clean. You want the casting director to look at you, so avoid wearing shirts with intricate or distracting patterns and posing in front of a busy scene. Also steer clear of wearing lots of jewelry. You want to look like a clean slate that can mold into whatever character the casting director wants you to play.
- Have options. Bring at least three different tops to the shoot. Experiment with different facial expressions and angles. Try shooting both indoors and outside.
- Have ‘em handy. Print your headshots on photo paper with a thin white border and your name in the bottom corner (in a clean, professional font). It used to be the “norm” to have classic black and white headshots, but nowadays color is “in.” Cut your headshots to 8×10 inches to match your resume. Always have 5-10 copies of your headshots in your bag! You never know when a last minute audition will come up or when a teacher will ask to keep your headshot on file.
- K.I.S.S. (“Keep It Simple, Sweetie”). Your name should be at the top of your resume in a clean, bold, and slightly larger text. Use a “sans-serif” font, one that is easy to read and free of embellishments. Your resume should not exceed one page in length. And don’t try to squeeze as much as you can on your resume if it means you’ll have size 6 font. You can still show off your accomplishments by keeping your resume short and sweet.
- Note your “stats.” You can exclude your batting average, but be sure to include the basics: hair color, eye color, height, weight or body type, vocal range, etc. (you do not need to include your age!).
- Stay in touch. Include your contact information like your phone number and e-mail address. Use a phone number where you can usually be reached (this may end up being your cell phone). You don’t want to miss a callback because you weren’t home to check your voicemail. Also make sure you use a simple, professional e-mail address. Recycle your middle school “email@example.com” for “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Make sure this contact information is up-to-date!
- Organize. Separate your resume into subheadings: Performance Experience (Theater, Film/TV, Industrial, etc.), Training (include styles and teachers), Awards/Scholarships, and Special Skills (ex. Driver’s license, languages you speak, and other talents that might help you land the job).
- Order up. Unlike a business resume, you don’t need to include specific dates on your dance resume. List your most notable experiences first, along with the venue or director/choreographer’s name.
- Be honest. If you’re just starting out, don’t be embarrassed if you don’t have a lot to list on your resume – everyone starts somewhere. It’s alright to include competition awards you’ve won or college dance concerts you’ve performed in. You can recycle these credits for more notable ones once you have a few more jobs under your belt. Also, don’t lie about your special skills! If you say that you can yodel, the casting director may ask you to do it on the spot at the audition.
- Show off! If you have a lot of experience under your belt, organize a few versions of your resume to cater to specific auditions calls – commercial, theatrical, concert dance, etc.
- Keep it clean, too. Like your headshot, cut your resume to 8×10 inches. Staple your resume to your headshot so that both are facing out. Be sure to do this BEFORE you come to an audition.