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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Resumes: Listing Commercials

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My student, Kate, sent me this very popular question:

A few quick resume questions: What are the rules guiding listing commercial work? I've seen the 'conflicts available upon request' thing before, but when do you add that to a resume? It seems a little like overkill for one commercial but obviously I would kind of like to note the commercial I just did on my resume. Part two, what is the proper way to list a webisode? Thanks Erin!

There are a lot of schools of thought on commercial information being placed on resumes. "Conflicts" occur when you do a commercial for a specific category of product (autos, fast food, hair care, beer, etc) which then precludes you from doing a commercial in that category as long as the current commercial is running. You let commercial CDs know what your conflicts are if they request them (hence the phrase) but it wouldn't be something you'd offer freely, since it can preclude you from work.

As you mentioned, the typical reason actors mention conflicts is to indicate that they have commercial experience. But in fact, it's unnecessary to list commercials in the "Experience" part of your resume, because the resume is typically used for work in the legit/theatrical realm. For commercials, they rarely ask for a resume. Most often, you go into the audition and fill out a size card, and they'll take a digital photo (or they'll already have your information in their casting system.) So, mentioning the commercial experience on your resume is not really required.

Further, conflicts are normally relevant only if the commercial is a SAG or AFTRA project that is currently running. Non-union contracts don't always have exclusivity clauses, and you are free to work if the union commercial is no longer running and you are not being held. You can find out more information about SAG Commercial Contracts here.

If you feel strongly about mentioning your commercial experience on your resume, I would suggest that you mention it in your Special Skills section (though I recommend against listing the clients.) Also, be sure to mention any and all commercial training in your Training/Education section.

As for your question on webisodes- I would create a separate section for "Internet/New Media" and place the information there.

I hope this is useful- let me know if you need anything else!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

5 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Joel said...

I stumbled upon your site and found a wealth of info that I look forward to reading. Nice, clear post. Wasn't aware of a good protocol for commercial listings. I dig it and I'll use it. Keep it up and thanks for the site.

Erin Cronican said...

Thanks Joel- you're comment just made my day. Happy weekend!

Anonymous said...

What if the majority of your experience are commercials, with the exception of a few short films. I've acted in about 8 local commercials, and have no formal education, theater, television, or cinema experience. My resume would look pretty bare if I just list the five short films, two acting workshops, and skills.

Erin Cronican said...

Thank you for your comment! The truth is, having a few films, your training and your skills listed is perfectly fine! That is what your experience is in the theatrical/legit realm (tv, film, theater), so that's what they want to see. Don't' worry too much about not having enough. Just make sure you are taking classes and add skills that are relevant, and you'll find that your resume building in a way that will be useful for your career.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Although most commercial auditions do not request a resume, I have a request for mine before I audition for a company looking for a commercial/print spokesperson. Should I include commercials on my resume? If so, how and where? Thank you!

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