“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”
In the 21st century this first impression is often made digitally before an in-person introduction, so your CV (and/or website, portfolio and business card) is a more important personal touchpoint than ever before.
Not only does it need to convey your professional history but some degree your personality and style too.
In a market as crowded as today’s, HR Managers, Creative Directors, Editors and CEOs will often get hundreds of names and CVs across their desk and in their inbox on a daily basis so making yours stand out is paramount.
One of the golden rules of sales, marketing, design and all things creative is ‘Show, Don’t Tell’. So if you’re looking for work in the creative world, it’s a safe assumption that whoever is receiving it will respond well to something visual.
Here are our tips on how to create a CV with a (positive) impact:
Think outside the A4 box.
A Times New Roman typed word doc doesn’t really cut it anymore. Try to think of different ways you can display your information to make the message as powerful as possible.
Being clear and concise is even more important than being ultra-creative.
Nevertheless, there’s no point being overly clever and flowery in your presentation if it takes away from the core purpose of the CV - to communicate your best bits coherently.
Make friends with spell-check.
Proofread and double proofread your CV before sending it off. Even if 99% of it is perfect, we’re programmed to see - and unfortunately remember - the 1% error, whether it’s a typo or misplaced apostrophe. Don’t let one tiny mistake undo all your other great work. Getting a friend or family member to run their fresh eyes over it too is always a worthwhile practice.
Take the bespoke approach.
Nothing’s more impressive or memorable than a consciously personalised CV - not only does it show the extent you understand the job/brand at hand, but how much you want it and the effort you apply to tasks.
Keep it relevant - and current.
There’s little point in overpopulating your CV with paragraphs of background information from years and years ago - especially if it doesn’t bear much congruity to what you want to do next. Instead focus on and emphasise those more recent aspects of your career that apply directly.
Emails get buried in a busy inbox and pieces of paper/post get lost in a messy office, so boost your chances of being seen by sending your CV in a couple (not TOO many) of formats so the employer can easily access it as and when they wish in the way that suits them.
Creative recruiters, Major Players, have made this video about how to write a killer CV.
Graphic Design CV examples
Graphic Design Cover Letter
There should be no such thing as an atypical cover letter. Depending on the employer, some will require a certain level of formality, others suit a more conversational address - so even though there are some key facts, figures and features that you should consistently draw upon, the reality is each job you apply for will need its own custom cover letter, tailored specifically to the brand and role.
Here are some things each and every cover letter will need to communicate:
What job you want
What skills and attributes you possess to do it well
An evident understanding of the role’s scope and function and the company’s culture, market position and wider industry
Tangible results you have accomplished - i.e. not just extended rhetoric
Anything (pertinent) over and above the job description’s listed criteria
Your professional approach / attitude. I.e. How you work - not just what you work on
Why you really want this particular job
Is it worth mentioning non-design jobs on a graphic design CV?
It is worth including top-level details on non-design jobs on your CV if they involved skills which are transferrable to the design job you wish you pursue now. However, if they have absolutely no connection then save the space for something more critical and influential.
What is a graphic design personal statement?
A personal statement is a summary of your sorts, which should express why you are drawn to this project / profession, how you would engage with it, why it stimulates you, how you like to add value and what you’re curious to learn / excited to do.