So do you have any hidden talents? Come on, I’ll bet you do! Get a couple of drinks in you and play the harmonica with your nose?
Or those M.J. moves you break out at all the weddings? Everyone has something individual to offer. It’s a question of honing in on it that can sometimes make all the difference in the world. They can make the difference between a call back and a forgetful audition. The special skills section of your resume can be your best friend, if you know how to work it.
All the time I see resumes that either lack a ‘special skills’ section altogether or just don’t do the performer justice. There are so many different things that directors look for when casting a show—not just if you can sing, act, and dance… Though those are the basics that should try to be covered! When putting together your special skills section, be mindful of everything you can do that may set you apart from others. Is it playing the piano? Is it being able to grow facial hair at an extremely fast pace? Doesn’t matter what it is, it never hurts to put it down on your resume—your calling card! Some of the more traditional special skills like being able to play an instrument, etc… should automatically go down! We all are familiar with the audition form that we fill out prior to an audition. Most of the time, it asks if you play a musical instrument, correct? That’s great if it is built into the audition but what if that question is not there? What if you play the saxophone and you haven’t let them know? I know what you’re thinking… If they need an actor to play an instrument, they will let you know prior so you will know to let them know. Not always! Maybe the director doesn’t even know he wants his character to play an instrument yet… You’d be surprised how many times something listed in the ‘special skills’ section can make its way into a performance. So if that question is not on the audition form, you have, more than likely, lost your chance to let the director know. You have 3 minutes in that audition room and the time you spend is on your song and/ or monologue, wondering if the director is impressed… Do you think you will interrupt him or her when they are asking you questions to tell them about your hidden talent? Probably not. An audition is nerve racking enough! Make sure you don’t give them an opportunity to miss that piece of information!
On my resume, I have everything from bull whip skill, to being especially skilled with duct tape… A talent which came from playing a superhero whose sole power was using duct tape! But guess what, that not only gives the directors something different to read, but it also opens up possible conversation. How many times have you left an audition wishing that the director had gotten to know your personality a bit better? And how many times have you left feeling good that the director asked you about things on your resume? Conversation starters can be a huge difference on your resume and they can make your name stick out in the director’s head—if not for the show they are working on, but future shows. A few years ago I received a call from a director who I had unsuccessfully auditioned for a few months prior asking me about the stunts skill I had put on my resume. I remember, on the audition, he had asked me about how I got into stunts and what the training was like. He saw something on my resume that made him want to have an extra conversation with me. That is worth 10,000 golden eggs on an audition. He had remembered that conversation from my audition and it was that skill that made him think of me for a job in Disney World that needed a person with stunt skills. NETWORKING is the name of the game folks! Because of something that I had on my resume in the special skills section, my name was put up for a new role for an audition that I didn’t even know about. As a matter of fact, no one knew about it yet. I received the call 2 months before the audition notice officially went up! Why not give yourself the chance to get buddy buddy with the director before anyone else even knows about the show he or she wants to do?
That leads me to the next point. Many directors want actors that can already do certain things, rather than have to take the time to train them to do it. Maybe a director is casting for The Music Man. He or she, for whatever reason, wants Marcellus to be able to ride a unicycle– It’s the director’s vision… Just by chance, on your resume, you have that you can ride a unicycle… Guess who just made his way to the top of the list for the role. Or maybe the director didn’t want that but because it’s on your resume, you changed his or her mind into something comical the character could do! It’s much easier to work with someone who can already do something than have to spend the time and money training them how to do it. Plus, it’s one of those things that could very well make its way into the show simply because it’s there!
At the end of the day, there are so many things that you can put in the special skills section. It is the one place on your resume where you can have a little fun. The director knows you can perform. The director knows what shows you have been in and where you have trained. What the director does not know, is that you can play the bagpipes upside down and under water. You wouldn’t skimp out on that breakthrough leading role on your resume so why leave out the fact that you have taken a trapeze class? Or those pole dancing classes that are getting huge now! It all matters and any one of those things can, at least, start a golden conversation on an audition. Maybe they won’t help you on that audition specifically, but wouldn’t it be great if it led to another audition and another possible job? Go over your special skills and put them to good use. Don’t play it safe either! Great that you can play the piano but think outside the box and let them know about the rendition of the national anthem that you can perform in 6 languages.