Photo: Tirachard Kumtanom
Have you read our previous article?
I truly recommend it to you, it is strongly related to today's article and will give you all the insights you need to get the perfect mindset for your career.
Perhaps you have been sending many unsuccessful applications yourself, or you would like to support a friend or a family member with some nice piece of advice.
Whether you are a dancer, actor, singer, or teacher working in the performing arts industry, this article is for you.
Step 1: Apply for a job you really want
Make sure to always read the job offer thoroughly and apply if you are sincerely happy.
I know we all need to pay our bills but when you send an application for a job you truly are interested in, it will inspire and motivate you even more.
Be authentic and only apply if you genuinely want the job, this is how you will be more successful in the long term. I know by experience that we rarely book a job we are not really passionate about.
Step 2: Make them want to meet you!
Show how nice it can be to work with you because you are professional, reliable and a great fit for the role. Demonstrate how positive and easy-going you are, it will always benefit your application and people will want to meet you.
This is one of my secrets and how I got invited to many auditions in my career. I stay simple and warm and I choose my words wisely.
You do not need to be too formal, however, be respectful, always, and add a bit of your personality in your cover letter, you are also a nice human being, let them know about it!
Recently I received a great application from a talented dancer. This cover letter was confident and promising: " I am everything you could possibly look for in a dancer: fabulous technique, great look, and sunny personality! " Some people could find these words arrogant. Not me. It was original and unique. I invited this person to audition for this great project because I was intrigued and curious to see.
And it was the truth. I've seen all that, and this dancer booked the job.
Step 3: Write a cover letter
There is no such thing as writing the perfect cover letter as we never know who we are talking to, however, there are a few points to consider when writing a cover letter.
Firstly, write one!
Yes indeed, many dancers don't. Writing a cover letter will be the first good point for you as it shows an important trait of character: you care. You have read the job advert and you are serious about it. You took the time to read thoroughly the job description and this will always be appreciated.
Here are a few tips which will make your application stand out:
- Introduce yourself briefly
- Keep it short and relevant. Explain how you would be the perfect person for the job by quoting the main points mentioned in the actual job offer
- Demonstrate your qualities for the role and how you tick all the boxes, meticulously, be very specific about it and stick to the brief
- There is no need to mention all your professional experience unless it is very relevant to the job offer, go straight to the point! Remember, it is not your CV
- Be polite, respectful, and not too familiar but not too formal either. Find the right balance and inspire respect and professionalism
- Find a nice and catchy phrase to attract your readers
In the past 18 years, I have sent out hundreds of job applications and I've been invited quite a lot when I took the time to write a nice cover letter. I have tried the easy way too, I got fed up and sometimes I have sent applications without cover letters and unsurprisingly I wasn't invited.
I tried both methods and writing a short cover letter will always raise your profile and will give you 70% more chances to be invited. It tells a lot about who you are and how you present yourself in the industry. I have been on the "other side" on many occasions, and I know now how you can be perceived in a simple job application.
As mentioned above, it is important to stay relevant at all times. Remember that casting directors might see hundreds of applications and therefore their time is limited.
Make sure to highlight your strengths and remember that you're applying for a specific role. We love to share the beautiful things we have done in the past but if it's not pertinent to the casting director you are truly missing a point.
Step 4: Send appropriate photos
This is important and can genuinely make your application stand out. Always send great photos, make sure to select shots that will inspire your audience, and just like your cover letter send relevant information.
Nice and clear shots, where we can see your technique and the quality of your training. Sometimes nice photos can even boost a very poor cover letter and will get you invited.
Also, very important, if you are sending an email please send your photos in small or medium size, never large as this is a real nightmare for casting directors, it makes your application difficult to read and can even be unflattering. Select clear modern shots, be always mindful about that. You will be seen by the casting director for the first time and you want to make a great first impression.
Select your headshot carefully, it is your image and the wrong headshot could diminish your chances to get invited. Look your best, smile, be confident and send professional shots if it's possible.
If you can't send appropriate photos, do not worry too much, send your application and explain briefly why you couldn't fulfill this requirement. People are nice and if your profile interests them they will invite you regardless of your photos.
And finally, send no more than 3 photos. Remember that you are not the only candidate, it can be quite overwhelming and you want to be certain that your application will be seen positively.
Step 5: Send your CV even if they don't ask for it
You might not be asked for a CV every time in our industry. Sometimes only a cover letter and headshot will be required, however, send your CV if you can.
Casting directors might sometimes need more information to select the right candidates and even though they haven't necessarily asked you for a CV in the first place, sending it over anyway is definitely a bonus. It will enhance your application by delivering key points about your professional experience and vocational training.
Make sure to send an updated CV and highlight all the relevant information, create a document tailored especially for this job offer. Think about how you could showcase your strengths for this unique opportunity.
A great CV is definitely a plus and can get you invited to auditions.
Step 6: Showreel, keep it simple
In this day and age a showreel, or a simple video of yourself is a must. Although you can still be invited to audition without a video if you apply these simple steps mentioned above (it worked pretty well for me) it is better if you can send one.
These are my tips for the best video to send with your application:
- Make it special and relevant to the job offer
- Keep it simple. You in your garden, a studio, or on stage
- Wear appropriate clothing to show your lines
- Avoid big ensemble videos, it is not interesting, they must see you and just you!
- No longer than 2 minutes
Apply these tips as soon as you can and you will get more invitations to audition.
There is nothing worse for a casting director to go for a big treasure hunt while watching your showreel. Sometimes it is better to send a minute-long video of yourself in your garden demonstrating exactly what they need, rather than a 4 minutes showreel of multiple footages of yourself dancing in big productions. I know it might look great and prestigious but if we can't see you well it is completely irrelevant and can affect your application.
Also, see this opportunity as a first-time performance. Be mindful of your appearance, and look professional, it is a real bonus. These applications tailored especially for a job offer have a high impact on casting directors and will make them remember you.
Step 7: Take risks!
This is a real-life story. I remember this dancer a few years ago. She spotted a nice job offer for a position as a dancer in a contemporary company in London. The audition was in a few days and she heard about it a bit too late, just one day after the deadline. She came to me and ask me for advice:
" - I really like this job but I've missed the deadline, should I send my application anyway? What do you think?
- Well, you truly like the job description and you have genuinely just found out about it, I would send my application anyway, it is just 1 day, and I would explain politely the truth and I will demonstrate why I am perfect for the role despite missing the deadline. Yeah, send it anyway, it can't hurt! "
Yes of course, if possible please send your application on time, but if you weren't aware of it beforehand, send your application anyway! Who knows? There is a difference between knowing that you are late because of a lack of time management and being late because of an innocent mistake. You can politely explain it and get the chance to be invited to audition anyway, there is someone behind the computer and this person was perhaps in your shoes 15 years ago, therefore you could be understood and still be given a chance.
In the end, my friend got invited to the audition. They were looking for 1 dancer only, and she got the job.
Step 8: Be very responsive, email like a pro
This one is crucial and could break or make your career.
Our industry is a fast-paced field and everything happens very quickly, therefore you must be flexible and adapt to certain standards.
If you are lucky enough to be invited to audition, respond to this invitation as soon as possible, doing otherwise is not encouraged and can truly affect your reputation.
Here is a simple guideline to success:
- Always respond to an invitation to audition in less than 24 hours
- Always acknowledge emails by sending a brief confirmation. It is highly appreciated
- Do not wait 2 days to send your reply.
- Apologise if you couldn't reply earlier. Your answer is more important than you think
- Always send an email if you are late or if you can't join the audition at the end
Follow these simple steps and you will demonstrate important qualities unanimously appreciated in our industry:
- You are professional and you care.
- You are considerate of other people's schedules.
- You are respectful and mature.
- You are reliable, we can count on you.
- You can be trusted and will deliver the job.
Implementing these simple rules is easy and will never hurt, however, failing to do so might cost you way more and could even affect your career.
Why on earth a company or a choreographer would want to invite a dancer to audition if they waited 2 or 3 days to get a simple answer?... This email sent was your first contact with the production, and not being responsive enough will only show that you don't really care and that you are not valuing people's time.
Once invited and your involvement confirmed, you can be a bit more relaxed about it, although I strongly encourage you to remain communicative, it is beneficial to everyone and will make the communication a lot smoother.
Be very responsive, your application will stand out and you will have a serious advantage over your competitors from the start.
Now you can send your best job application...
These steps will enhance your application and will maximize your chances to get more invitations.
Although these are very effective steps, casting directors are quite unpredictable, and even though you sent the perfect application for the job you could still not be invited! Remember that this is never personal, you are great at what you do and you did your best. There is nothing else you can do about it.
There is always a risk, however, without actions, you can't create these new opportunities, so give it a go!
Remain positive, consistent, and motivated. Be professional and ready.
One day you will book your dream job,
Believe in it.
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