10 Music Resume Rules

You need to have a resume. Better yet, you need to have an easy to read, compelling resume. Here are 10 Resume Rules to help you put your best foot forward.

Rule #1: Create a letterhead. It should contain immediate recognition and contact information. Specifically:                 

1.  1”x 1” color headshot of you.

2. Your stage name. If your legal name is Terry Joe Walker but you go by TJ Walker, use TJ Walker.  Use a bold font that you like that is easily read. In serif type use Times New Roman, Garamond, Cambria or something similar. A serif is the little line at the end, or top of a letter. In Gothic or Sans Serif type (meaning without the Serif) type, use something like Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Avoid types like Ravie, Blackadder, Broadway, Gigi, and other pop, kitschy, or hard-to-read fonts. Be professional. As to the point size that depends upon the serif type you choose. For easy reference, a headline name in 14-point type in Times New Roman works.

For the rest of the letterhead it is common to use a smaller, san serif like Arial, Calibri without the bold. A 10-point Arial or Calibri work fine.

              3. Mobile phone number

              4. Email address

              5. Website

              6. Fach is optional but you may find it more helpful to put in the Letterhead

Rule #2: Do NOT put personal information that is either not needed such as height, weight, eye and hair color, (your picture has those and they’ll see your height and weight when you audition).  Don’t give personal information such as your home address. I’ve seen all of the above on resumes. Don’t do it.

Rule #3: Normally resumes have the letterhead at the top. But, others get creative and put it down the side. It doesn’t matter so long as it is easy to read and simple to follow. In the case of the letterhead at the top, provide a simple line of demarcation and skip a space so you can center Resume in bold letters that are the size of your Letterhead name. Then skip two lines. In the side letterhead you’ll usually have a separation line between the letterhead and the text of the resume with the word Resume at the top.

Rule #4: Lead with what matters. Normally that will be a listing of performances with the role first, followed by the production. If you’re applying for an opera role, lead with your opera repertoire. If it’s a musical theater job, begin with your most recent musical theater role and show. If you’re auditioning for a concert or something else, lead with the repertoire. As to including the dates of your performances, some directors say yes, others no. The trend has been to ignore the dates.

Rule #5: Don’t overdo it. The repertoire listing is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all you’ve done, but rather it should be a sampling that gives them the flavor of your talent. Pick out the top three or four performances you’ve done. List them in the order you think most impressive. People tend to start at the top and when they’ve read enough to give them the idea of who you are, they skip to the next item. Don’t leave the best for last.

Rule #6: Consider your Resume as the headline that leads a person to go to your website. (You’ve got to have a “professional skills website” – but that’s another article.) At the end of the segment such as Opera Performances, state, “This is a partial listing. For my complete repertoire go to www.cjwalkersings.com” Drive them to your website where they’ll hear you sing, see you perform, and read your press clippings and letters of recommendation.

Rule # 7: After such performing labels as Musical Roles, Concert Performances, Professional Singing… then put Education and Influential Vocal Teachers and Coaches. It is great if you can put, in quotes and italicized, a two (max) line testimonial by one of these teachers or coaches, or from a review of you. Include the attribution. Great way to end your resume. If you have room end with your website.

Rule #8: No resume should be longer than one page. All text should be black ink on white paper.

Rule #9: No need to print up multiple quantities. You’ll be wanting to change the resume to fit the job. Be sure to create a PDF of the appropriate resume so you can email it to appropriate people.

Rule #10: Look at other people’s resumes. Borrow what looks effective. Ask theater hiring professionals (not peers) what you can do to improve your resume.

Mark Stoddard

Mark Stoddard is a business leader, professor, marketer and consultant who has been helping singers get jobs for more than 20 years. On the singing front he staged more than 100 professional shows aboard cruise ships that employed classical singers, pianists and strings. He’s also coached singers on how to sell their CDs and other products, use the social media and how to negotiate contracts. He’s been the CEO, President or Owner of the nation’s largest financial newsletter printing company, a residential and home study education company teaching finance and business, an international cruise and tour operation, and a non-profit fundraising organization. As an author he’s written 17 books on business and marketing (including one just for singers—Marketing Singers) as well as a full-length musical, several plays and a book of short stories and poems. His classes at the Classical Singer Convention are always rated with the highest ratings. Follow Mark online at www.twitter.com/mjstoddard You can buy Mark’s book Marketing Singers at www.ClassicalSinger.com/store