If your CV does not get the reader’s attention or have sufficient relevant information, you will not get the chance to ‘wow’ them in interview.
The average time they will spend looking at your CV, before they make that initial decision, is approximately 10-20 seconds.
Once they have decided on the ‘good’ CVs they will re-read these before narrowing them down further, for the ‘bad’ CVs they will automatically be rejected.
Your CV is your first chance to impress, make sure it says all the right things about you.
- Do’s – Design the layout, be clear & concise, remember to be creative, choose a great font, use a little colour, update your CV for each application, think about the role & company you are applying for, always use talk in ‘third person’ unless emphasising a point, always be positive.
- Dont’s – Add ‘CV’ at the top (wastes space & fairly obvious), make your CV more than 2 pages long, use computer CV packages, use over complicated language, or exaggerate or lie.
Name: Use a large font size (min 36pt), so that anyone you are contacting will remember your name. Use the name you are best known as & don’t put in your middle names unless you actually call yourself ‘Charlotte Henrietta’ for instance.
Address: Make sure your address does not take up too much space, but has all the key details address, telephone number, e-mail. You can try designing your own letterhead style (& accompanying with your own matching business cards) or putting as a ‘footer’.
Use the address most suitable to the position applying to (do not put term & home addresses as this is unnecessary). Make sure e-mail addresses are appropriate.
Personal Profile: This is one of your few chances on your CV to get across your personality & relevance for the position you are applying for. Do not use generic skills, such as hardworking, team player, as you should focus on the most appropriate for the job or that represent you. Make sure that you use industry specific skills & ‘sell up’ your attributes.
Try taking 4-6 skills or attributes, which are unique to you, to create a more dynamic personal profile. Try to use your own language and avoid clichés, words like creative, innovative are all over used, avoid statements like ‘passion for fashion’.
Education: As a student / graduate your education will be one of your key selling points, so this must go first (1-2 years after graduation this will move to the 2nd page). Remember each course is different so highlight what is unique about the course i.e. design with an emphasis on international business. You should then highlight key skills / subjects learnt, try grouping them together to make it easier for the reader, for instance what did you learn in terms of design, technical skills, professional development or business, and computer aided design. Use industry language rather than academic speak, never simply list modules or projects.
We read from left to right, so make sure that your degree is the first you see, then your university – not the date this should always be on the right & in a small font. Also ‘tell the story’ of what each aspect of your education gave you, so what you learnt on your Art Foundation course and how that helped you within your degree. It will show the transition & depth of your learning – all of which will add up to making you more attractive to potential employers.
Your education should be in chronological order with the most recent first.
Relevant Employment: As a student or graduate you often have a mixture of different types of work experience from bar & shop work to unpaid placements. Always start with any relevant employment or work experience as this is the most important. In a similar way to the education you need to begin with the role, employer & then dates, you should also highlight a little bit about the company (this is especially useful if it is not a well-known or overseas company).
Then focus on key aspects of the role, highlighting any clients that you worked for, took additional responsibility, or made a difference to the company i.e. increased sales. Published work & exhibitions could be included here, or within their own section. Employment should be in chronological order (per section) with the most recent first, do not put employer’s addresses.
Other Experience: Everyone at some point in their career does some type of menial work, it is important however that you are able to promote any positive or relevant aspects. For instance it may be the length of service, the level of responsibility or it could be that if you worked in store you can highlight on those areas of the job that would be very relevant & attractive to a future employer i.e. dealing with head office, visual merchandising, understanding trends etc. Customer service is always important, but cash handling is not so sort after.
Achievements: Making note of your personal or professional achievements is always a positive way to end your CV. Far better than ending with your hobbies or a list of skills. This could relate to traditional achievements, but could relate to a work colleague or boss complimenting you on your professionalism. If you have not already mentioned published work or exhibitions make sure you add them here.
Other ‘items’ to include:
- Hobbies & Interests – Only use relevant hobbies & interests or relate them back to the job role applying for, for instance ‘travelling’ for original sources of inspiration or ‘travelling’ has given me a high level of confidence that I can put into use as a buyer.
- Photos – Only put a picture of you if requested to do so, as you should not need to get a job based on what you look like.
- Skills Profiles – If you decide to put together a skills profile make sure they are relevant to the position. Try not to just write a long list – this is very boring for the reader. Highlight relevant skills first, followed by generic skills, such as timekeeping, team working, but keep these brief.
- Other Information – Includes driving license, willingness to relocate, date of birth, and if an overseas student your immigration status (where relevant).
- References – Just put available upon request, unless you have the most amazing references. When supplying references make sure you give name, job title, address & e-mail / telephone number as this will speed up the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Illustrated CV’s? It is always safer to add additional sheets of artwork rather than illustrating your CV, as some companies like illustrated CVs & others hate them. In addition it can sometimes make the CV difficult to read, it is far better to have a well laid out CV, with great graphics, targeted information and real attention to detail.
Alternatives CVs: If you are exhibiting or it is your end of year show; it can be a good idea to do a mini CV, promotional profile or CD rom with your details & examples of your work on it. This helps visitors to take a snapshot of
Adapting your CV for different job roles: It is really important to adapt your CV to each job or placement that you are applying for, it is also worthwhile having several ready in advance so that you can quickly adapt them. Also don’t forget if you are applying for positions outside your field, explain why you feel you would be suitable – companies are not going to just take a leap of faith.
Sending electronically: The best way to send a CV electronically is in a pdf format as it ensures that the formatting stays intact. E-mail your CV at the end of the day, so it is in their inbox for the morning and increases the chance of it getting read. Make sure the file size of all attachments will not crash their computer or take too long to go through.