We receive hundreds of CVs, but 80% of them are difficult to read. When you are putting together your CV, remember its purpose is to get you an interview, not a job. Your CV should be a professional document that clearly shows your experience, qualifications and skills, so resist the temptation to put in too many graphics and instead, focus on readability. It will be the content of your CV that helps you stand out, not its creative appearance.
We share with you our top CV pointers to help you make your first impression count.
1. Perfect Presentation
CVs are best presented using a simple and clearly readable font across a maximum of 2-3 pages. Always use A4 size with black text on white, as your CV will be printed out and copied. Avoid cramming in lots of examples of your work, you don’t want people judging you on images without the explanation, so save these for your portfolio. If you want to add in an element of creativity, include a single strong visual that demonstrates your skill in a particular area, for example a CAD drawing, hand sketch, finished photo or sample board image.
2. Your Profile
The first 4-5 lines on your CV should be a concise profile of yourself. It should factually explain what makes you different, for example, I have 6 years’ experience working on boutique luxury hotels. It can cover sectors you have worked in and perhaps a defining project in your career. If you are at a junior level, highlight where you studied and possibly your grade. Whatever you decide to include, it needs to be factual so don’t use subjective words like ‘passionate about design’ or ‘a highly motivated individual’. This information is best kept for the interview where you can give examples to qualify it. At this early stage, the prospective employer is most interested in seeing whether you have the skills, qualifications and experience to do the job.
3. Career Experience
Your experience is the single most important section on your CV, whether you have 1 year or 15 years. Starting with the most recent first, add in all your experience always stating the practice name and your current position. If you have left your job, do not put ‘to present’ for your last role, state the date you finished. It can often go in your favour if you are available straight away to start a new role. Include a paragraph on each role, key projects covered, the project size and its value, to show your commercial understanding. Date everything properly with months and years and make sure it’s accurate and up to date. Don’t forget, the list of the projects you have stated on your CV should translate to your portfolio with live examples.
4. Technical skills
When it comes to technical skills, include the most relevant first. What we see a lot of the time is candidates stating their competency in each design package. We recommend leaving this off your CV because it can be subjective. All practices have different standards and what one might view as advanced, another may see as quite basic. It’s therefore best to leave the technical skills discussion to the interview.
5. The Human Factor
There are differing views on whether interests should be added to a CV or not, but we know it can play a key role in helping a prospective employer build a profile about you. Don’t feel that you have to add in all your interests, it’s better to focus on something you’ve achieved or been heavily involved in outside work. You could use this section to highlight events you attend regularly or awards you have won. Adding in competitions or personal achievements can enrich your CV and help build a rounded profile.
6. Your References
You will require references at a later stage in the process, but don’t not ever state these on your CV. You wouldn’t want someone contacting your line manager before you have secured your next role. Always put ‘references available on request.’
Finally, remember that what makes you stand out against other designers is your unique experience, skill set and approach, so make sure this shines through clearly on your CV.