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Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Write a Killer CV for Voice Over Jobs

Create a Resume and Covering Letter without Sounding Like A Complete Beginner

By Gary Terzza.

Sooner or later it is going to happen - a potential client will ask for a CV (or 'resume' as some people call it). An audio showreel may not be enough. You will also want to include a covering letter too.  But what should this very important piece of information look like and what on earth do you put down if you are inexperienced?

If you were applying for a job in an office (or pretty much anywhere else for that matter) one of the issues uppermost in your mind would be your CV - is it up to date? Does it waffle on with irrelevances? How can you spruce it up so it looks good? 

All these would be understandable concerns, but this is the business world .... the 'real' world and voice overs are, well, different aren't they?

Life lessons

How wrong you would be; voice overs are a business. I remember reading about an old colleague from my TV presenting days (he was at the top of his game in the 1980s and far more successful than me) who was lamenting his dramatic drop in status. Where once he employed a driver to shuttle him from studio to studio, he now delivered parcels as a motorbike courier. Nothing wrong with that of course, except he was so concerned someone would recognise him that he refused to remove his helmet.

The point about his article was that he had enjoyed the trappings of celebrity so much that he had ignored the fact show business is a business. His spendthrift ways caught up with him when contracts weren't renewed. Ouch.

Professionalism is required at all times in voice overs and that extends to how you present yourself on paper, or in an email.

Where to begin

The business of voice overs is different from many industries because it is the media. This often means a unique outlook on life that is more casual, relaxed and open to new ideas. I am generalising of course, but you won't find many voice over artists turning up to the studio in a power suit (if you do or know someone who does, please let me know!). 

Likewise a voice over CV should be informal, visually appealing and convey something of your personality.

Rigid, highly structured text is a no-no. Keep it loose, but informative.

A couple of ideas

Take a look at this covering letter proposal for British voice over talent +Geoff Tonkin

It is very much a prototype (Geoff improved on this substantially himself), but gives you an idea of the kind of style you might want to consider.

Notice the emphasis on the visual elements. A picture is a must, as is bold eye-catching graphics and fonts. Bear in mind your potential employers will have scores of these to wade through, so you need to stand out. 

It is also about capturing the essence of Geoff - his mature, Mr Nice Guy style. Clients know exactly what to expect when they play the demo.

What about the CV?

In some ways the covering letter is the slightly easier part as you can do a bit of selling and be quite specific about what you are offering. The resume is different, though, especially if you have little or no experience.

When my VO student Jeremy Ngaw wanted a CV, we were presented with a problem. He had not done any voice over work (although I am happy to say he has now) so what on earth could we put down?

We took a look at Jeremy's vocal attributes and came to the conclusion that his biggest selling point was that he was a fresh young voice from the Philippines. In addition to speaking English he was also fluent in the Filipino language Tagalog.

Again a photo was essential, not least because it demonstrated his youth and the word cloud allowed clients to see instantly what Jeremy was offering in terms of language and accent.

If you are a newcomer to voice overs, don't highlight this fact. Try a better phrase such as 'fresh new talent' - it is far more appealing. Casting directors are always scouting for new voices and you have to start somewhere.

Points to takeaway

   Make your CV and covering letter eye-catching.

☛  Keep it brief and to the point

☛  Sell yourself honestly by focusing on what you sound like

   Don't emphasise any lack of experience  

   Always include a photo

If you have any CV/resume examples and ideas you would like to share, please add them to the comments section. I would love to see/hear them.

Postscript - And my ex-colleague the reluctant motorbike courier? I am pleased to say he is now running a successful talent agency. Business is looking up.

Gary Terzza

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