This guide is aimed at people working in digital and integrated agencies in client services, projects management/production and strategy. It’s also relevant for people working in similar roles in-house at a company or in marketing.
For creatives, whilst a CV is sometimes needed, your portfolio clearly carries more weight. For people working in tech some of the points below are relevant but you will need more detail and possibly another section on your tech skills.
How much detail should I put in?
The most important thing to consider is that your CV needs to be concise and easy to read. If you ‘waffle on’ and the only way to get your CV onto two pages is to use font size ‘4’ and no margins, then you might need to cut some content out.
If you work in a big company and want to move to a similar sized company in a similar role, or one step up, then it’s likely your job spec will be the same. This means that you won’t need chapter and verse about your responsibilities for each role in your work experience (see key areas of a CV below).
If you work for a small, lesser-known company and hold a broad role; you will want to go into more detail about your responsibilities as prospective employers will be looking for requisite skills.
Write more about your most recent roles, you don’t need lots of detail about a role that you held five years ago. For example, if you have ten years experience then your first role might only be one line of content on your CV.
Ideally your CV will be two pages, but three is fine if you have a lot of experience. If you have one to two years experience you should be able to get your CV onto just the one page for example, particularly if you have worked for a well known company in a recognised role.
Formatting, spelling and grammar.
Have someone else proof-read your CV! Even if you need to get a CV together quickly, spelling or obvious grammatical errors speak volumes about attention to detail.
The format you choose is your chance to show your personality in a CV. Some of the CVs that we receive show lots of personality; they incorporate design, imagery, and creatively written content. This can backfire if you get the tone wrong but similarly if you go for a very functional, facts-and-figures-type CV, you run the risk of coming across as dull. Have a think about who will be reading your CV, and what impression you want them to have of you. If you are applying to more serious and bigger companies, then most likely your CV will be filtered by an HR department first – and there is a chance that a more creatively presented CV might not work. It all comes down to the type of role you are applying for or the type of person they want to attract.
Key areas on a CV.
Personal statement – personally I’m not a fan of this, but in some cases a concise summary of your experience and salient personality traits can be relevant. If you find yourself writing just about your personality and saying “I’m a go getting and dynamic team player with the drive to achieve my goals” then it’s probably best to leave it out!
Key skills, achievements or major projects – as an alternative to a personal statement you could favour a more punchy section on the main points of your background – but if you then go on to repeat yourself in your work experience section, it might not work. It can sometimes also be unclear exactly when in your career you gained this experience. That said, if brief and relevant this can be a good way to start a CV and make the reader want to keep going.
Work experience – Broken down by date (month/year to month/year). If you have held two or three roles in the same company then include the dates at which you held each role as it shows progression. You should break each role into major achievements and key responsibilities. That said, achievements from roles 10 years ago may not be relevant.
Education and professional qualifications – Use the following layout: date, institution, qualification, grade. If you choose to leave your grades out, people will assume you didn’t do very well.
Key skills – (assuming you didn’t go with a Key skills, achievements or major projects section) – here you should include skills that might be relevant such as language skills.
Interests – Being brief here is a good thing as you don’t want to be judged by what you do in your spare time. Some people will think its great you’re a dolphin trainer in your spare time, others might find it odd. As with work experience, achievements are a really good thing here to demonstrate commitment.
If you are in any doubt about the points raised above, please drop one of our consultants a line and we’ll be glad to help.