7 Tips for a Top CV

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin
Head of Casting @ Extras Ireland
Connect with me on Linked in here.

If you are going to pursue a career in performance, it’s not enough to be a great performer. You also need to know how to present yourself well. In addition to wonderful headshots and some fabulous samples of your work, your CV is vital to show off what you have done and what you can do. I have seen and analysed hundreds and hundreds of CVs in my time and I know what casters are looking for. Here are 7 tips to make your CV stand out and to present yourself in the best possible way – I hope this helps you!
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1 Presentation
In any industry, it’s important to present your CV as clean, clear, nicely formatted and spelled correctly. A performance CV is no different. Make sure it will look impressive when opened up by the caster and that it immediately gives off an air of professionalism. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve opened up CVs to find poor spelling, structure and lack of effort. I would highly recommend a website like Canva to construct your CV – it’s free to use (with a monthly fee for additional features) and you can access hundreds of CV / resume templates which you can use to make something really special for yourself. Keep it to one page and show off your career highlights – you don’t need to include your entire life history.
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2 PDF
If you are sending a CV in document form, make sure you send it as a PDF to the caster. It’s the only way you can ensure that the person opening it up sees the same version of the file that you do. If you make it on Word for example and send it as a Word Doc, if the person on the other end doesn’t have Word on their device, it may not look the same as yours. If you’ve spent time making your CV look great, you want to be sure the caster is seeing the best version of it – so PDF is your safest bet. Also, be sure to label it nicely eg Aislinn Ni Uallachain Actor CV 2021 so it looks professional and whoever is saving doesn’t need to re-label it.
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3 Links
If you are including links on your CV, for example a link to your website, IMDB, your showreel etc, make sure they are included at the top of your CV. Make sure they are on the document and not just in the body of your email because the caster may not save those. They will definitely save your CV somewhere but not necessarily links. Make sure the links are working and include them at the top of your CV. People don’t always have time to read all the way down to the bottom of your CV so if they are hidden away they may be lost. Put them up at the very top so the caster can’t miss them.
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4 Headshot
Make sure you include your headshot at the top of your CV and not only as another attachment in your email. Again, attachments and links can get separated so you want the caster to have all your information in one place. Include everything on the document itself.
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5 Training
After you include your personal information at the top, eg contact details, playing age, height, location etc, list any training you have completed. Training can be really impressive to a caster to spot your dedication and aptitude for learning more about your craft. If you are just starting out and don’t have many credits to your name, training you’ve had can override that. As well as the name of the course and the organisation that led it, you can also mention the names of teachers and skills that you developed eg improvisation, character analysis etc. Also include any awards you may have won!
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6 Credits
In most industries, you would list your past experience chronologically so that employers can see where else you worked, when and for how long. They will be looking for your level of loyalty to an employer and gaps in your career. That is not the case in a performance CV. The caster will just want to see what you worked on, what your role was and who the production company / director was. Honestly, they don’t particularly care when it was so you have the luxury of listing your credits in order of impressiveness – you don’t need to list them chronologically. My advice is to put your most impressive credits at the top and work your way down. For example, if I was still acting, this is how I would lay out my credits:

Screen Credits
An Klondike | TV Series | Lilly Lamore | Abú Media / TG4 | Dir Dathaí Keane
Raw | TV Series | Helen | Octagon Pictures / RTÉ | Dir Simon Massey
1968 | TV Doc | Spirit of 1968 | RTÉ | Dir Michael Mc Cormack
Passion in the Pale | TV Doc | Mary Magdalene | RTÉ | Dir Patrick Butler
Camelot | TV Series | Stand-in for Claire Forlani | RT Productions / Starz | Dir Various

etc etc.

You can list them or put them in a grid, whichever you prefer. You can also divide your credits up into Screen / Stage / Commercial etc – however you think they best show you off. The important thing is that you give the caster your highlights. You don’t need to list every little thing you’ve ever worked on – just give them the best!
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7 Skills
Finally, be sure to include your skills (and your level of competence) eg Singing (Advanced Soprano), Guitar (Beginner), Italian (Native, Fluent), etc. As well as skills that are related to performance such as singing, dancing, driving, language etc, have a think about other skills you have that make you special. Are you good with animals? Have you worked in a bar? Can you solve a Rubik’s Cube really quickly? Add in any skills that you have including other jobs that you have done such as nurse, retail, teaching, admin – you just never know what someone might be looking for.
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To Conclude…
I really hope these tips help you to make an amazing CV for yourself. It’s vital to know how to present yourself and how to show yourself off. Don’t hide your light under a bushel and be proud of your achievements. There are other articles on the blog here for you such as 5 Tips for a Great Self Tape and Top 5 Headshot Tips – make sure you read them and give yourself the best possible opportunity for success!

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Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.