I receive many CVs each and every week. Most of them blend into the background, but some stand out, often for the wrong reasons.
Here are my top five things not to do, followed by my top five things that may get you an interview:
Top five things that will see your CV end up in the bin …
1. Dear Sir / Madam
Really? I think that if you want a well-paid job then you should at least take a bit of time to find out who hires at the agency. Ask yourself, do you think I should waste my time bothering with you when you couldn't be bothered with me?
2. A generic letter
Please, make it personal. I need to know why you're writing to me - do you like the work we do? Are you passionate about working for us? Why should I believe that you REALLY want to be here or are you just after a job until a better offer turns up?
Don't get me started. It really isn't that difficult - there are spell checkers out there that will take care of most typos, but then there are human beings that will do an even better job.
Like the point above - it's just attention to detail. I know it seems that the modern world doesn't care about grammar and the correct use of the apostrophe - but I do, and most agency bosses will too.
Don't show me all of your work (especially if it's college or university projects), show me the best, well thought-out and successful work you've done.
Top five things that may get you an interview…
1. Personalise the letter (and focus on a few agencies that you like the look of rather than everyone)
You have to know who you're writing to, who hires and why they hire. You have to make the letter about the agency - what work do you like of ours and why? What are you passionate about and what are your personal goals? A little tip here - don't just copy what it says on our website - look at our social channels and press releases you can find - do some proper research - get a feel for us.
2. Catch my attention
If you're a designer then make sure your CV and covering letter reflects that, after all, that's the job you're after. If it looks like it's come from an accountant trainee, I'm highly unlikely to be impressed.
3. Impress me with your portfolio
Put together a well thought-out and developed CV and portfolio both in a PDF presentation (I hate PowerPoint) and online (as that's where you'll be designing eventually).
There's nothing like getting through the door and at a desk doing some real work whilst gaining some experience too. If you get work experience, treat it like a week-long interview. I received an un-personalised email recently asking for some paid work experience. Did the person applying not realise that when we give work experience, it ties up some of the team and they pass on vital knowledge, and very rarely does the person having the work experience contribute to the team? Not surprisingly, the answer was no.
5. Be yourself
We mainly hire because we like the work, the person, their personality and see passion and commitment with a good attitude - that counts for most things. However, just as a good measure, make sure your social channels are tidy - if you know what I mean.