WRITING CREATIVE CVS
Don't let the medium interfere with the message
"If you bake your CV in a cake and send it to BBC Recruitment, it'll get eaten. And nothing else - they want everything in the same professional format."
Start by producing a standard CV. Only when the wording is excellent consider into something that is a bit different: get the content right before focusing on the design. The considerations for 'Creative CVs' aren't that much different from normal CVs. It is the content and presentation that will make the impact and not gimmicks. Eccentric CVs can put off employers. CVs have to be filed. How can you file a 3 dimensional CV?
The standard CV model is always the safe bet. The normal rule of thumb is that if you are going for a job without particularly heavy competition for places - e.g. accountancy, computing, retail management - you play it safe and have a standard CV whereas for jobs where there are likely to be many applicants - the media, think tanks etc. - you may need to take more risks with your CV just to get it noticed. Even so, content is king - the best looking CV will not get you interviews unless it also contains depth of content.
Don't include content such as graphics if they don't add any useful information about you as this is the sole purpose of a CV!
A well designed CV would be expected from students who have studied a design-related degree. You need to balance eye-catching/different with a sharp and professional promotion of your style. Presentation is particularly important but that does not necessarily mean an unusual CV. These are difficult to compose and tend to detract from the key purpose of the CV (the range of skills that relate to the job). Your creative skills can be assessed via your portfolio.
It's the content, practical skills, and work experience that employers are particularly interested in, plus evidence of what you have created: listings of exhibitions etc.. Work experience take priority over education. For example for a multimedia CV include your technical skills (Flash, Maya, Photoshop XHTML etc.). For advertising jobs, evidence of an interest in music, art, photography or film may help.
Provide a link on your CV to a web site with examples of projects from your portfolio. Let your real work do the talking, not the CV layout. Work experience is used to demonstrate the soft skills that most employers want: teamwork, customer service etc. Creativity is demonstrated in your portfolio not your CV.
Once you do start introducing more of a design element to a CV you have to recognise that this is more of a high risk strategy. Some recruiters may love your design, others may hate it, so show your CV to other people first.
"As a creative director, I'd look at CVs to decide whether to bother looking further - looking at someone's website takes time and anyone who couldn't format a paper CV properly isn't going to be of any use!"
The same will go for many big organisations. Where they have specialized recruitment functions, a well formatted CV will always work better. One large advertising agency recommended a standard CV. Some smaller companies may like a more individual approach. They may be more impressed by an unusual CV because they have fewer to look at.
Any speculative approach needs to be followed by a phone call. See our Creative Jobhunting page for help with this.
Tips for a design CV:
- A tasteful and subtle watermark or border can be effective.
- Landscape shaped CVs (wider than they are long) are harder to format correctly but can stand out from the crowd.
- Book format CVs (folded into four A5 size pages) are awkward to photocopy and to look at.
- One method is to have a business card with examples of work on the card: this should be in addition to rather than a replacement for, your CV.
- Example Media CV. An excellent example of a media CV from a Humanities student . Very focused on TV with lots of examples of relevant experience. If you want a job in the media, read this. Also see the media covering letter .
- Example Creative CV This is a colourful CV of a multimedia student which is more appropriate for advertising, PR, multimedia and other creative careers where a CV demonstrating design skills is important. Don't just copy this CV, but it may give you some ideas for a slightly more eye-catching layout than that found in our other CV examples. This is in MS Word format which you can download.
- Very creative CV by Kent Multimedia graduate. Click on the CV at www.christos-savvides.co.uk
- CVs and Covering Letters
- How to Create a Portfolio
- Multimedia Careers
- Media Careers
- Computer Games Careers
- Advertising Careers
- Prezi CVs - prezi is a bit like PowerPoint but more fun!
- CV Parade http://cvparade.com "great website archiving creative CVs. I've used it personally to design my own cv to great effect." - Kent Multimedia graduate
- www.netgain.org.uk/looking_for_jobs/cv Arts Advice website.
- Creativepool www.creativepool.co.uk creative/media students can upload examples from their portfolios.
- www.skillset.org the sector skills council for the Audio Visual Industries
- The Creative CV Guide, by Jan Cole and David Whistance, published by Surrey Institute of Art and Design www.surrart.ac.uk £6.99 ISBN 0954628519. There are quite a few examples of CVs which do "something different" or are particularly "eye catching".