Composing a CV

There are as many different CV layouts as there CVs. The salient points to remember when putting together your CV are clarity, brevity and honesty. As with covering letters, the CV should be well presented and not immediately create an unfavourable impression. There's no need to title your CV "Curriculum Vitae" or "CV" as it's apparent what it is - better just to put your name at the top. Keep the CV length to one or two pages - any more tends to switch the reader off rather than show the wealth of experience you have. If you do need to cut back the credits, omit the oldest and least prestigious.

The CV should start with your basic details including your contact number(s) and address. Whether you put your date of birth is a moot point as some people think it can limit your options by precluding you for some roles in the mind of a casting director, whereas others think it should be included as a simple yardstick. After your contact details should come your credits and training. Again, some people prefer to put training first, others credits - it's up to you. As long as each section is clearly laid out and the CV isn't too long it shouldn't matter unduly, though we'd be inclined to lead with your credits.

Credits should include the character you played, the production, the director, the venue, theatre company and the date. The norm is to list the most recent credits first as these are the most telling and the most relevant and there's no point keeping your big guns until the foot of the CV for the big finale because the reader may have fallen asleep or moved on to the next one in the pile. Don't exaggerate your role and certainly don't claim experience you've never had. Sure, a credit may slip through the net but most won't. Actors, agents, directors and casting directors are continually networking, working together professionally and meeting socially. There's every chance that lies will be found out and come back to haunt you. If you have a number of credits across different genres you might want to list them under different sections (e.g. film, theatre, television, radio, corporate, commercials...).

Your training should include the institution, the course and the dates you attended and, if relevant, any awards or distinctions you received.

It's not obligatory to include referees, though if you have a particulary prestigious referee (e.g. a respected actor, tutor or industry professional) it may help to include them.

Additional skills and interests can be listed in a different section. These can be useful if you have genuine skills such as sporting abilities (horse riding is the classic), musical abilities or particular interests which may be valuable to a role. Don't list skills you don't have - at best you'll end up looking foolish, at worst you'll earn the reputation as a chancer or a liar.

Check the spelling and accuracy of all the information and don't forget to keep your CV updated!

Useful Links

An actor's life

CVs for Actors and Actresses