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Top 9 Do's and Don'ts of Creative CVs

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I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last 12 years of my career in or around the recruitment industry with the majority of this time spent within the creative space. I have seen the good and the bad in both talent and client but there is one question that still amazes me more than anything else – Is it really that hard to write a good creative CV?!

To this end, I have compiled below my personal Top 9 do’s and don’ts when looking to create an effective and palatable creative CV for your next job application.

1. Don’t get carried away with the design… Content is the most important thing

I’m going to start with the biggest cliché in the digital space for the last 10 years … Content is King! But as my mum used to always say (but keep in mind she was not playing with a full deck) “clichés are clichés for a reason!” It’s very easy to get carried away with aesthetics and forget that ultimately the CV is there for one reason and that’s to communicate clearly and succinctly to a potential employer your skills, achievements and work history.

2. Don’t forget - a CV and a portfolio are 2 different things!

It’s important to remember that in a lot of instances the first port of call for your CV is a Recruitment or HR manager and they will want to see your qualifications, how long you have stayed in your previous roles, etc. Your CV is for them. Once they have screened you for these things they will then send your details to the hiring manager who will most likely be a creative themselves. Your portfolio is for them.

3. Do you know your audience?

It’s important that you know what kind of organisation you are applying to and that your CV reflects how people in this industry will evaluate it. I would suggest that you not send the same CV for a role as an in-house designer in a professional services firm as you would for a web designer in a digital agency.

4. Do they know how to contact you?

I know that we are well and truly in the digital age and everyone is savvy with email contact but not providing more contact information on your CV is a mistake. It amazes me that people have started taking their phone numbers off their CV! I agree that the time has passed where we need your full address, mother’s maiden name and next of kin but for goodness sake – email address, postcode and mobile number is a minimum.

5. Don’t forget - Bigger is not always better!

If you can’t demonstrate to me that as a designer you have the ability to make a file that is under 2mb and still get your point across in perfect detail – you shouldn’t be a designer – it’s that simple.

6. Do you know how to optimise your CV?

When your CV comes into an organisation there is a very good chance it will end up in a candidate management system. To make sure you are properly flagged and recruitment managers can find you it is important that your CV has all the right key words, much like optimising a website for SEO. Be thorough. Do your research on keywords in your industry (see infographic for a few tips)

7. Don’t substitute Typography for legibility

It’s great to show off your typography skills but if I can’t read your name, I may choose not to read any further!

8. Don’t be fooled - The CV is not dead, yet

I have been astounded recently that I have got applications from designers with nothing but a link to their online portfolio. No details of qualifications, no details of work history and no details of roles and responsibilities. Even if you have an online CV as part of your website – put the details into a CV document and send that through. The CV is not dead, yet.

9. Do a PDF!! … controversially or not … IMHO – a creative CV should be a PDF

Given that I have spent much of the last 8 points saying that it’s not about creativity and design, it still has to showcase some of your skills. It is only here at this last point after considering all other factors that you make sure that your CV represents you as a creative professional. It is in my honest opinion that there is no better way to present this than in a PDF document.

So there you have it. My Top 9 tips in creating a successful creative CV that will make you stand out from the rest.

Here at Forward Role we have industry professionals who can not only help you find your next role but we can also help you prepare for the journey of job hunting by working with you to create the best CV possible. If you’re interested in finding out more please don’t hesitate to drop me a line: Michael@forwardrolerecruitment.com Ph: 07929047987