Special Skills on an Actor’s Resume

This Week’s Tip: Special Skills / No-No Skills

“No-No Skills” are items on an actors resume that should never – repeat NEVER be listed as skills on an actor’s resume.

The Special Skills section of an actor’s resume is not a landfill for useless information. This section should only contain actual special skills that can be performed on stage or screen. But many actors feel that they should have their Special Skills section of a resume challenge the verbosity of WAR & PEACE with “skills” that have no relevance to performing. Don’t even get me started on the useless “driver’s license” and” U.S. Passport” offenders. If a director needs a principal actor in a car, the actor is placed in a car that is put on a trailer or in front of a green screen. If you feel that you won’t be hired as an actor for a project without listing your driving skills or passport status then here’s what you do. Remove ALL acting credits on your resume because you’re not needed as an actor. Have just your name, contact information and put dead center on the resume that you can drive and/or have a passport. Your talent is not wanted, just your car or passport.

This past week as I was going through a multitude of resumes that came to my office from un-represented actors I began to notice that some actors were listing special skills which had absolutely no qualified reason or logic to be on an actor’s resume. Below is just some of the recent bounty of No-No skills found. If you have any “skill” similar on your resume delete it immediately (including any references to passports and driving).

– “Walking” (Ok, the actor looks a bit mature in his pic so maybe, for him, walking is beyond ordinary)

– “Dog Owner”

– “Promiscuous Female” (THIS was on a actor’s resume… either he doesn’t know his sex OR he has a lot of sex and his partners ignore the mid-waist protrusion)

– “Piano Clowning” (THE PIANO meets Stephen King’s IT)

– “I own a Russian warmblood” (I dated a Russian who was warmblooded but he didn’t shed)

– “Zone II Hunter Finals” (huh?)

– “Related to Jimmy Stewart” (And your point is?…)

– “President of a Corporation” (So is Donald Trump but I wouldn’t want to watch his Lear)

– “Tetris” (Is this actress hoping for the remake of TRON?)

– “Amazing with Children” (On a mature male’s résumé… someone call Chris Hanson of DATELINE)

– “Excellent Impression of Parents”

– “Baby-sitting” (I got a resume from an older man who’s “amazing with children”… you two need to get together)

– “Role player for psychological testing of Boston-area police department applicants”

– “Hard Living” (Yo, sweetheart… we’re all suffering these days)

– “Furniture refinishing and tiny tot gymnastics (Imagine if she got the two confused. There would be a lot of damaged dinettes and shellacked kiddies)

– “Enjoys restoring cars in the family collection”

– “Owner of [name withheld] Jewelry”

– “Make incredible smothered burritos” (My local Taco Hell needs you)

BookMoreWork_TelseyQuoteWhenever I, other casting personnel and talent reps encounter these No-No Skills and similar on resumes the resume is often quickly tossed. Why? Our impression of the actor is that they are one or all of the following; needy, insecure, over-compensating, clueless, a freak. Acting is a business folks. A profession. That’s why I wrote my book, ACTING: Make It Your Business, to help people from making these kinds of mistakes and treat the business of acting as a profession.

What should be in the Special Skills section of a resume? See pages 78 – 80 in ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. This is NOT a plug. It’s a plea to actors to stop hindering themselves by knowingly or unknowing making mistakes that jeopardize forward momentum in their careers.

AMIYB_AmazonMy best,

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned more than thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Elon, Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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