Your CV is the vital first step you make in securing your next career move and you need to take time to ensure your CV is actually opening doors for you in the first place. It’s no good having a superb, up to date and exciting portfolio if your CV is out of date, has missing information or spelling errors. In other words you need to be commercially minded and your CV must be relevant and to tailor your CV to the roles you are applying for.
Your CV is a functional document and below are tips below to help you secure the perfect role.
1. Dates are really important on a CV. Not just to show how long you have spent with each employer but employers also use them to look for inconsistencies and unusual gaps. If you go travelling for a period, then make sure you put it into your history. When you are initially considered you won't have the opportunity to explain gaps, so if they aren't detailed on your CV then you may not get through. Always do your dates in reverse chronological order i.e. your most recent role first. This will ensure that your most relevant experience is first to hand.
2. Proof check, then proof check again, then send it to someone else to proof. You are in the communications industry and typos just aren't acceptable. It can be hard to proof your own work so try and get a friend to check over it for you. Some classic typos include GCSE's (GCSEs NO apostrophe needed), Curriculum Vitae (its Latin spell it correctly), liase (liaise), Quark Express (QuarkXPress), organize, realize, maximize (Use a UK spell checker!)
3. Size matters. Try to keep your CV as short as you can. Unless you are a very senior candidate, most CVs can be condensed down to two pages, three at the absolute most. Long CVs can be very daunting to the reader.
4. Education details. Your education needs to be represented (especially with less experienced candidates) but we don't need to know every GCSE grade and subject. Details of your degree and major projects can be useful. Reverse chronological order again and most detail about the most recent qualification.
5. Detailed work history. When presenting your work history, it's important to summarise the work at each employer. If you are working in a design team in say a property developers you will have worked on very different projects than if you had worked in a design team within a recruitment advertising agency. Each role can benefit from bullet points detailing the exact types of projects worked on. Remember to include any successes and in particular personal contributions you have made during your time in the role. This is especially useful when applying for different jobs as you can re-organise bullet points to emphasise different skills for individual roles.
6. References. References can take up considerable space on a CV and it's important to note that clients will not check references without prior contact with you.
7. Contact details. Email and mobile number are primary contact details, but include a permanent address as employers will need to know where you live to properly consider your application. If you don't have an address you could be removed from the first sort.
8. CV bilge. "I work well on my own projects or in a team." In my time I have never once seen a CV that says "I'm agoraphobic don't leave me in a group of people with a sharp object" or "I work well in a team but please don't leave me alone." This sentence is CV bilge, everyone will ignore it and therefore it is wasting CV real estate. If you have space left over increase information in your work history or your higher education course details. They're the most important parts after all.
Take a look at the advice below from various individuals who work in and love the industry.
‘I would say that most agencies on the whole look for people who are not only passionate about the business, but who are also hungry for the opportunity. There is a lot of competition out there, so start by making subtle changes to your CV and gaining some relevant experience to gain some cut through. Be confident in your approach, knowledgeable about company histories, client portfolio’s and work and stay up to date with the latest trends and developments, if you’re at the cutting edge you’ll stand out from the crowd!’ Sam Aldridge, Operations Manager
‘It’s important to differentiate yourself – make sure your CV is crafted specifically to the job you’re applying for (highlighting where your skills or experience are a good match) and follow up the interview with a quick email of thanks if you can. And I’d recommend getting yourself onto LinkedIn with a proper profile and photo as employers will undoubtedly check up to see who you are and who you know so one of your connections could be the key to getting your next role. But don’t be afraid to try something different – contracting or freelancing might be worth considering as an alternative and could give you valuable extra skills or insights which make you even more ‘employable’ in the future.’ Lisa Christmas, Social Media Manager & Creative Project Manager
‘It is really competitive out there so do all you can to shine and stand out as an individual. When I had my first interview at Vivid, I had researched the company back to its roots so that I had positive answers if I needed them. Remember to smile in your interview, its disarming but in a positive way.’ Ammie Thomas, Creative Industry
‘Personalise, personalise, personalise – you need to “tweak” your CV dependent not only on the field of expertise but the vertical and also if possible the company – it’s no longer as case of “spec -ing” something general but being clever and “selling” relevant skills and experience dependent on the job role – LinkedIn can be used as your “general information”’ Jackie Pollard, Account Director
‘Look upon a job search as a job itself. Be disciplined, tailor your CV and skill set to the job description, follow up on applications and don’t rely on automatic spell checks – get a friend to look over applications for grammar and spelling and ask for feedback on your CV. Also be open to new areas and challenges and don’t get disheartened if you’re not initially successful.’ Sue Meara, Account Director
‘Be flexible, present yourself immaculately, communicate fabulously and be relevant. Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for and do your research on the company. It is incredible how many people come to an interview knowing ridiculously little about their chosen company and its work.’ Lisa Pinto, Tactical Marketing & Events
‘A good personality fit will get you the job much faster than a good qualification, particularly in the creative sector. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself at interview.’ Lester Clark, Head of Graphics
I hope the above information helps and that your job search is no longer so intimidating. Please give Bluetree a call if you have any questions and we will be happy to give any advice.
Article by Claire Newman