Why your CV is not getting you the job…

Your CV is just a piece of paper (maybe two pieces) but this piece of paper could be the difference between a mundane 9 to 5 or your dream job. OK, maybe not this extreme but it will open avenues you never thought possible.

Your CV allows you to communicate your worth. It gives you the opportunity to say: “I am bloody good, I know my stuff, and this is why”. This includes showing that you understand the latest trends in design (white space, clean type, good layout), and that you know what people are looking for in the marketplace (latest technology, working in an up and coming agency, winning a cool new award for design/advertising etc). It speaks in a language that people ‘in the know’ will understand, it shows you understand your industry and you know what’s expected of you.

Truffle consult with many candidates about their CV, their folio and their general presentation when looking for jobs. Around 80% of applications need a little extra work on one area or another before we can submit them to our clients. It is not surprising that people don’t know the standards they are competing against; after all how often do you look through the CV’s and folios of other Designers?

Here are a few pointers to help you get your CV in to a job worthy state and bag that interview. Have a read and check yourself against them…

1. Education: you’ve got a degree, great! Tell us what the degree was, what year you completed it and what grade you got – pretty please…

Note: There is no need to list every stage of your education, just the most recent. Don’t forgot to include any relevant extra curricular courses, these show that you are constantly striving to improve yourself, get them on your CV!

2. Folio: Truffle receives multiple applications from Designers that do not include an online link or PDF folio. It’s all about your work people!

  • You don’t have a folio? – This is a cardinal sin in the creative world, even as a copywriter. A nice looking, well styled, clean, easy to digest, portfolio of work is a must have. This is your chance to sell yourself, your skills, your styling, your personal projects (do restrict the number of non-commercial projects and do not include if your personal projects are rude balloon animals!)
  • You have a folio link on your CV. OK, great you’ve got your folio link on your cv (thank you) the next big faux pas we see is an un-clickable link or a link which takes you to a dead page! Please check all of your links work before sending out your CV – I think you may just be surprised…
  • Do you have a generic folio page (behance/ coroflot/ creativepool)? Please get yourself a personalised one which presents your work better: include larger imagery, more space for explanation, white space, a nice scrolly down effect (parallax). In this digital day and age you need to invest in your own work so make yourself a folio to be proud of, this is your pulling power – make it good!
  • Do not forget that it’s not just the work on your site but the actual site itself that prospective employers will be looking at. You’re a coder? Then it better be watertight and display your ability – a UX specialist must have the easiest site to navigate.

Note: If you apply 5% effort to looking for a job and presenting yourself, then you will look like a person who applies 5% effort in life…. Would you hire someone who gives that little?

3. Spelling: Proof read your CV and then proofread it again, and then one more time for luck – spelling errors are not cool! I have to correct at least one person a day for errors on their CV, some of which are copywriters or proofreaders. This is an easily avoidable mistake, which will cost you interviews.

Note: Get someone else to proof it for you, a fresh pair of eyes can usually spot mistakes much easier.

4. Dates – Please chronologise your CV – include months and years too. This sounds so simple right? You wouldn’t believe how many CV’s we see with the format: “2012-2013: Designer: XYZ agency.” This clearly does not give us enough information. Was that January 2012 to December 2013 (2 years) or was it December 2012 till January 2013 (1 month). This is often used as an avoidance technique, to cover up times when a person was out of work. However it won’t work in your favour, as soon as somebody gets you face to face they will ask and your cover will be blown.

Note: Don’t try to hide things, be up front and honest.

5. Gaps – OK, so you have a gap in your CV. No problem, just don’t leave it blank. You don’t need to go in to detail, but if you had 2 years off to care for a sick/elderly parent or 3 years off to bring up your children, don’t be afraid to say it.

Note: If your excuse for having two years off was “bumming around, travelling a bit, re-evaluating life” then just be honest, but be a little more creative with how you word this.

6. Contact Details: OK, so you’re a super hot candidate and you’ve applied for a job you’re very excited about, you’ve done everything right on your CV and you have an incredibly relevant, beautiful folio. We would love to contact you..… but wait….. you have no phone number listed on your CV!!

Note: Give yourself a fighting chance by including a phone number.

7. Social me: Personal and business lives have merged over the past few years, your twitter, facebook, linkedin, instagram, pinterest etc are now a great way of you representing yourself to your business network as well as your friends. People are much more interested in your personal interests now, especially in the creative industry. Your social profile is yet another way for you to promote yourself, share your style, and interact with your chosen industry, don’t fall behind the curve ­- make sure you include your social links on your CV.

Note: Please make sure the social profiles you include are updated regularly. Only include ones you truly use and take an interest in. And remember to be mindful to only share what you’re happy for potential new managers to see!

8. Look & Feel: Are you guilty of having angled writing on your CV? Do you have dark imagery? or some weird illustration type thing? or lots of clashing colours and fonts? If so, you need to read this next bit:

  • Your CV should be slick, clean and easy to read. According to TheLadders research, hiring managers spend an average of “six seconds before they make the initial ‘fit or no fit’ decision” on candidates.
  • Angled writing is difficult to read, multiple fonts are offensive to the eyes, coloured fonts can bleed or blend in to the background making them impossible to read.
  • It is also imperative to use a well thought out font, take your time to research this. Comic Sans is a no-go. Think modern, classy and easily consumable.

Note: Each person has their own design style and I am not suggesting you conform to the ordinary, but at least make the content easily digestible. It will make all the difference when job hunting.

We hope these points have helped you! Do take the time to check your own CV for errors, links which lead nowhere and eye watering fonts…

Happy job hunting!