CV's: the basics.

A few years ago, I wrote my most popular post ever; Advice for design graduates. Much of that advice still holds true but It’s obviously been while …it’s been a while since my last post full stop really.

So here’s an update and rather than a complete rehash, this time I’m going to break it down into a few posts — what with all the talk of dwindling attention spans…

First things first then. If you’re actively looking for a job your CV will most likely be the first communication your prospective employer will see of yours. It’s important. Very important, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw everything at it.

I often describe landing a new role as a ‘carrot dangling exercise’ and your CV ought to be the first ‘carrot’.

(Best stock image ever?)

(Best stock image ever?)

Remember that, first foremost, it’s a utilitarian document that’s main purpose is to communicate your name, how to contact you, a BRIEF indication of your work history and/or educational accomplishments and — at a push — a line or two about yourself to inject a bit of personality.

For designers especially, I think it can be helpful to think of your CV as the first page of your portfolio (2 pages at a push). It’s an easy opportunity to tick a few boxes right from the get go — have you got an eye for layout, grid systems, how are your typographic skills, colour palettes etc.

“Always leave them wanting more…”

I said earlier not to throw everything at it. The best CV’s are visually clean and concise. Huge blocks of text are intimidating and are rarely read so the trick is to provide just enough information to ignite interest then direct your reader somewhere where they can find out more.

For example, In a recent role I’ve worked there were over 200 other applicants and with the best will in the world, I will not be reading 200+ CV’s front to back. I’ll scan them and the ones I like — great laid outs, recognisable clients and/or work history — I’ll spend more time with.

Those that use, have multiple pages, demonstrate poor typography or are simply visually unappealing get left behind because if you can get those things right, you’re not who we’re looking for.

And that’s the next point — make sure you point your reader to where they should go next. Even a great CV can only do so much — unless you’ve got a stack of top drawer agency names in your work history, your CV alone will seldom get you to an interview by itself. Your work should do the talking, so make it easy for your reader to find.

What, where and how should to show your work? We’ll talk about that in the next post.