1. Keep to an A4 size
This is pretty obvious. Who is going to print out an A3 CV for their records anyway? Provide your potential employers the convenience as they are really busy people. It's politeness. They will need to print out your CV for their own records and references. Try to keep it to one A4 page, maximum two.
2. Keep It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S)
Make sure your CV looks simple, easy-to-read and not full of visual jargon. It's too easy to get carried away with over-decorations of your CV. Easy reading and relevant content are your utmost priorities, NOT aesthetics. Type your contents on white space. Not only does it make reading easier and gives breathing space, potential employers wouldn't want to waste so much printing ink on CVs they would throw away after the interviews, so don't expect them to print your beautiful graphics in full colour. Try to stick with white, black and/or grey. Be creative, even within the box!
Use 2 columns instead of one so that you can maximise the space on one page. You are the designer, so demonstrate your graphic solutions here.
If you are planning to send your CV by snail mail, you are free to be creative with it. However, content, readability and relevance are still the mandatory rules!
3. Content Structure and Relevance
Your CV should include the following (in order):
- Full name
- Job title
- Work Experience
a. You don't necessarily have to put in the words “Curriculum Vitae” or “CV”. It's already understood that it's a CV. Also, it saves space.
b. Your full name should be the heading, followed by your job title.
c. Avoid putting your photograph. The same applies for date of birth and gender. According to UK laws, this is to prevent age and sex discrimination.
d. Make sure your contact details are visible. Include your website, email, phone number and address so that it's easier for the potential employer to contact you. If you are quite conscious about your privacy, at least include the postcode and city in where you live, so that potential employees will know where you are based.
e. Objectives must be written in third party format. For example:
“I am a competent graphic designer who is flexible. I can work within tight deadlines…”
“A flexible and competent graphic designer who is able to work within tight deadlines…”
Keep your objectives to a minimum of 30 words.
f. Skills should be put first rather than your education, followed by the next important information in line. Because you will have to impress your potential employer in the first few seconds, make sure you sort the information according to priority, as stated in the list above.
Categorise your skills according to the following: Advanced / Intermediate / Basic
This will give potential employers a clear gauge on where you stand.
g. Okay, so you've worked as a cashier in MacDonald's, and a sales assistant in a clothing shop….but how is that relevant to the graphic design job you are applying for? If it's not relevant, remove it.
If you had experience working in a design agency, it'll be good to give a short description of what you did. Highlight your key skills in here.
h. Include the clients whom you've worked with under the category ‘Clients'. Not only does it enhance your work experience, it shows your professionalism. If you've none, just leave the category out.
i. If you've won awards or you had your artworks exhibited, list them in the category of ‘Achievements'.
j. Make sure your latest education qualification is on top, followed by the earlier ones. The same applies for achievements and work experience.
k. This may look like one of the easiest to fill, and the most neglected, but it's actually one of the trickiest. Interests allow employers know a bit more about you. If surfing the net or youtube is your hobby, chances are you are put in a more negative picture because it gives the impression that you may surf the net and not work! Avoid the terms ‘clubbing' or ‘socialising' as this may give employers the connotation that you ‘play around'. Unless you are working for a tour agency, ‘travelling' may not be a good idea as it makes certain employers think that you may want to take more leave. Include interests that would not otherwise jeopardise your image.
4. Use bullet points
It makes reading a lot quicker and easier. Remember, employers scan, not read!
5. Be honest
Common sense really, but if you choose to go down the dark route, it will show, and you'll soon be discovered.
Be sure to prepare at least 2 references (if you've got no work experience, include your tutors' references) in advance, as some employers will request them. While you do not necessarily need to include that in your CV, it is essential that you put a phrase at the bottom: “References available upon request”
7. Use appropriate mediums
CVs are to be saved in pdf format, not doc.(except for a few exceptions) or jpeg. Make sure that the file is saved for web viewing (you can do this in InDesign > File > Adobe PDF Presets > Smallest FIle Size), so that it is small and does not clog up the inbox.
Do note that some of the points here may not be relevant in other countries where CV requirements can differ. If you are based outside UK, do check the CV requirements in the country you are in before sending your CV out.
This article was written by Maria Fung - you can check out her other work here