There is no question that the resume and/or portfolio you create for yourself is important. This will often be the first thing any casting director will see. Take the time to create a stunning resume and make the investment to show off your talents.
First, let's cover the resume since this should be the first step. Unlike a typical resume you might submit to a normal 9-5 job, an acting resume will have some differences. You need a head shot and don't skimp on this. A professional photo session can run from $50 upwards depending on the amount of photos you are requesting and of course the time spent during the session. This is one out of pocket expense that you should plan for and make a priority. Why this is so important is because your written portion of the resume will often be on the opposite side of the photo portion of your resume.
In addition to the head shot you should detail out your acting experience. If you've acted in a plays, movies or commercials be sure to list those roles. As well, any special talents you bring to the table should be covered in your resume too. If you have taken acting classes or acting workshops these too can be included on your resume. Here is the hard part; be thorough but be concise. Your written portion should fit on side of a standard 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper while the opposite side should have your best head shot.
A portfolio can also be a great way to display your talents. The portfolio can contain more than your resume including both photos and written copy. Nowadays, creating an online portfolio is easier than ever. There are basic website building tools that will allow you to create the perfect portfolio. Even those with no web design experience can find tools to build a great looking portfolio site. If you have no desire to build it yourself, look to family and friends to help create the website or you can hire a professional web designer to do it for you.
Similar to the resume, your portfolio should cover your experience and talents. You can go more in depth but make sure it's relative to what you are trying to achieve. You can use the portfolio to showcase your best photos. You should include a section that details your previous roles. You can also use this medium to post any demo reels you may have created or a spectacular performance that you may have recorded. This is true for voice actors as well. Keep in mind that either an acting demo reel or voice over demo should be short. Keep them 30 seconds to 2 minutes at the most. These demos are meant to be just that a quick demo of your skills not an entire performance. The demos you choose should also be the best of class meaning choose the ones that show off your talents the most.
Remember your resume may be the only thing a casting director will see. Take the time to create an award winning resume just as you would when auditioning for a role. If you invest in an online portfolio use the social media tools available to promote it. Be sure to keep it updated with your most recent acting accomplishments.