Monday, 10:38am
10 August 2009

Avoiding the CV-jeebies

Follow these simple guidelines and keep your curriculum vital

I’ve just churned my way through another mountain of CVs, sent to me in response to some recent job advertisements, writes Represent’s Mike Radcliffe.

I’m kind and generous and I ALWAYS respond to people, even if it means working at the weekend. But I’m loosing my patience with mediocre applications, and I’m on the verge of creating a ‘bad CV – no response’ rule. Unless you haven’t noticed, we are living in difficult times, opportunities are rare and there is no room for not creating a convincing application that makes your audience at least sit up and listen. Here are some simple ideas / rules that I think will give you the edge.

First of all, view your initial contact as the opportunity to get a meeting, nothing else, just a meeting. Once you have the meeting then it’s your responsibility to win over your interviewer with your wit, charm and amazing portfolio. But before you get the meeting, I would create the simplest and most effective CV to send out, and a small work presentation to send out with it; don't mess up before you've even got in there. Personally, I think CVs are an exercise in cutting the information back to the bare minimum, especially if you are a graphic designer. All too often, information is badly laid out, often in a Word document and instantly binnable. Strip out every bit of wordy, flowery language (unless that’s your audience).

The viewer makes a decision within seconds if they want to look further, so don’t trip up at the beginning. Design your CV using a simple and clear font. A tip — especially if you want to work for me – make your CV landscape instead of portrait. In these times of technological advancement and paperless offices, most CVs are viewed on a landscape screen and not printed out – landscape just works so much better. I work on a small MacBook, and all too often I have to increase the size of a portrait CV just to read the information. Why not think about how your CV will initially be viewed and create a one page, landscape CV with simple and clear information. It’s not brain surgery, and after all, you’re the designer.

Photo’s on a CV are a no-no, it’s just not right, we’re British and we don’t like it.

Put the information in chronological order: most recent first. Again strip back the education section. We’re not interested if you got a C in woodwork. All we need to know is that you managed to get your GCSEs, including Maths and English, similar for A-levels (unless top marks where gained).

When it comes to personal statements and hobbies and interests I would steer clear unless there is something genuinely interesting to say. The clichés always come trotting out, and they are a waste of space – ‘enthusisatic, positive and hardworking’; ‘love for music, cinema and socialising.’ Leave. It. Out.

All we need to know is where you’ve been, what you've done and if there was anything significant that happened along the way to make you employable! It’s your job as a designer to make information clear, accessible and enjoyable to read. Don’t delay: revamp your CV, I’ll even give you feedback if you want to send it to me.

Top: Illustration by James Graham.

Eye is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, For a taste of the magazine, try Eye before you buy,