Dance is a profession. Period. That means it requires professional maintenance. True, resumes and professional websites can feel dry to creative, “muse-driven” types like dance artists — but building and maintaining these professional staples can actually be creative! While these steps are something to get back to periodically (every few months, perhaps, or when you may get a promotion, get hired and the like), stay-at-home orders have given many of us far more time. While at home, why not use some of that time to get your professional house in order? Remember, it can be creative and fun, so enjoy!
The traditional: Resume and headshots
Resumes are most effective when customized to the gig or company you’re seeking, yet you can always keep the basic ingredients in good shape. Read over your resume and note if formatting is consistent, if your entries comprehensively demonstrate your experience, and if all your contact information is updated. A good resume reflects your personal and professional best — does your resume do that? Is your tone professional yet still accessible? See if you can enjoy the wordcraft! If you’re thinking you may need some professional help here, research online resume help. You may be able to find some on a sliding-scale if full-priced resume services would be out of your price range.
Regarding headshots, are they updated to reflect you at your best now? If not, traditional headshot appointments are of course a risky idea, and perhaps not in compliance with stay-at-home orders in many areas. Yet reach out to photographers in your network and see if they can offer virtual headshots, or if they can offer in-person headshots that comply with social distancing (which likely would require advanced equipment). As with resume help, you may be able to find professional photography on a sliding-scale if full-priced resume services would be out of your price range.
The somewhat modern: Website
Another tool in your professional toolbox is your website. Ensure that your reel, biography, artist statement, resume and headshots (updated, per the prior section) are visible and accessible to anyone visiting. Are all links active and updated? How’s the design/layout — is it visually appealing, consistent, and supportive of the content? Is the site easy to navigate, and its structure logical? Is your artist statement clear and compelling? Does it capture who you are as an artist? Is your biography an intriguing story about who you are as an artist and a person?
See if you can be creative here and enjoy it! As with your resume and headshots, you may be able to find professional help on a sliding scale, if you’re thinking you could use it but it’s out of your price range at full cost. Your website is the traditional public face as a professional — it’s worth the time and attention.
The modern: Social media and connections
Your social media presence is your more modern public face as a professional. Check your bios, avatars, banners, and story highlights — do they reflect you at your best as an artist? Particularly with LinkedIn, are there any professional highlights to update? Check “requests” and “recommended” lists — are you missing any connections over social media platforms that would be useful to make? Are there any posts that you wouldn’t want a potential boss, choreographer, or teacher to see? Delete or archive them. Are you not on any social media platforms that would benefit you to be on? Look into those, if so.
At the same time, note your own capacity to engage and still stay focused on your work and not feel overstimulated; we all have different levels of what we can handle in terms of screen time and being pulled from app to app, and still be at our best. Could you use less scrolling and more connecting with people you love and admire over social media? While working on your social media presence and thinking in these terms, perhaps message some friends and colleagues about how they’re doing. See what may evolve from there!
If you’re in a space to think about it, reflect on your professional direction, goals, creative identity, and the like. Looking over your resume, tweaking your LinkedIn, and chatting with some dance contacts might just have you fruitfully thinking in these ways (what you’ve done or not done, what you want to accomplish, et cetera). Why not take advantage of that? Why not take the time to put your best professional self forward, especially if you have more time while at home? Don’t forget to have creative fun while doing it. And treat yourself to a dance party when you’re done — you’ve earned it!
By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.