Creative CV – Dos and Don’ts

There is no universally agreed right or wrong way to design or present your CV. Opinions vary and you will hear different advice from different people. However, the trick is to listen to a wide range of employers, tutors, advisers and anyone else who knows about these matters and synthesise what you learn to build your own CV that suits your own style, achievements and career ambitions.

Having said all of this, there are some important issues to keep in mind which will help you create a very successful CV.

The Dos

Design your CV

If you want to work in a creative/design role, you may want to design your CV so it stands out from the crowd and leaves a lasting impression with your potential employer.

Your CV is the first opportunity you have to impress employers with your skills such as graphic design, illustration, drawing or use of a particular software package (such as InDesign). You might want to include images of your work to create interest in your portfolio.

Irrelevant information

Avoid lots of irrelevant information. The CV needs to be targeted to the job and the organisation concerned. It needs to be kept relevant and concise. An absolutely essential pitfall to avoid is simply sending out the same version of your CV for every job. All jobs are different, even if only slightly, and all recruiters will have differing needs. Make sure your CV is carefully targeted to the needs of every job being applied for. It means extra work to make those changes but it will usually be worth the effort

The Don’ts

Equally, there are definitely some mistakes to make sure you avoid.

Here are some of the main errors to be sure to keep clear of when designing or adapting your CV:

Too long

Make sure the CV is not too long. Employers simply do not have the time or, frankly the inclination, to read through page after page of CV. Two sides (sometimes one) tend to be the norm and a CV will rarely need to be longer.

Irrelevant information

Avoid lots of irrelevant information. The CV needs to be targeted to the job and the organisation concerned. It needs to be kept relevant and concise. An absolutely essential pitfall to avoid is simply sending out the same version of your CV for every job. All jobs are different, even if only slightly, and all recruiters will have differing needs. Make sure your CV is carefully targeted to the needs of every job being applied for. It means extra work to make those changes but it will usually be worth the effort

Not backing up claims

Avoid superficial or exaggerated claims that are not substantiated by some concrete evidence. Use real examples of achievements to provide evidence of skills.

Spelling/grammar errors

Make sure there are no spelling and grammatical errors. These may seem unimportant but poor presentation equals poor impression. Employers generally make very swift judgements about CV presentation and the presence of avoidable errors is unlikely to generate a favourable response. If grammar and spelling are not strong points, seek help from somebody else!

Unclear reading

Another problem to avoid is a CV which is not clear and easy to read – quickly. Just as it is important to keep a CV brief, it is also important to make it clear. Employers want to be able to scan through the text and pick up the key messages. Avoid confusing or ambiguous phrases.

Inaccurate contact details

Make sure that contact details are clear and accurately recorded on the CV. Take extra care to avoid errors such as incorrect postcodes or wrongly noted mobile numbers. Recruiters want to be able to contact applicants quickly and easily and will only try so many times!

Ignoring advert guidance

Another important mistake to avoid is failing to act on any guidance provided in an advertisement. It is important to follow any instructions carefully, supplying any information requested. Make a note of any closing dates, ensuring that the applications are not submitted late – ever.

Copying other CVs

Take care to avoid simply copying CV examples. There are lots of templates and samples on the internet. There are examples in this guide, of course, but the intention is to provide ideas and guidance and it is important to use examples for ideas and inspiration to create a style that works for you rather than simply copying other creative CVs.

Poor quality images

If creating a more visual creative style of CV, then you should avoid using any poor quality images. It is probably useful to seek advice regarding the best type of images to use.

Overusing images

It is also important to keep clear of using too many images that crowd out everything else! Only use your own work! The CV should not be too busy and any images used should contribute to the overall ‘story’. It is important to avoid using images of work in a random way, which could confuse the reader about the message you are trying to convey!

The principles of CV writing are on the whole quite simple but they are very important. A CV can be critical to the overall pitch to a recruiter and can be the difference between success and failure in the opportunity market so it is important to take the time to make sure it is exactly right.