Writing a CV is difficult. It's the one time that we are asked to sit down and, on paper, tell the world how good we are - our strengths, skills, accomplishments, ultimately why we are better than others and should be hired for a job. This may sound easy enough in principle, but it is in fact stressful and can give rise to a lot of soul searching. So give yourself lots of time to write a CV….avoid procrastination!
The person making a judgement about you may receive a large number of CVs and have very little time to read them, so use headings and spacing to make your CV easy to read and include the most important information on page 1. Also, bear in mind that you are in a competitive situation, therefore you must stand out from other candidates - be specific, highlight achievements, and make sure that your key design skills are clear to the reader.
We are often asked how long a CV should be - we feel that there is no "right" or "wrong" length to a CV (for example, a graduate would likely have a shorter CV than someone with 15 years industry experience). The key point here is to get the right balance - a CV must cover the salient points and provide a clear "snapshot" of a person, without becoming too long and detailed. A good general rule is to aim for 2-3 pages, with 1 full page as an absolute minimum and 4 or 5 pages as a maximum.
- Never say anything on a CV that you can't support at interview
- Don't try to be clever or funny - let your sense of humour shine through at the interview, not on your CV.
- Triple check your spelling and grammar
- Ask a friend or recruitment consultant for advice. CVs are, ultimately, personal creations - therefore by all means follow these guidelines, but do not let them stop you from emphasising your strengths and achievements.
Portfolios are often an interesting talking point with candidates. Much of the work a candidate will do will often be covered by a Non-Disclosure-Agreement and at the best of times it’s often unclear what candidates can and can’t show outside of work. The general consensus is that, unless specifically informed to the contrary, work that is now in the public domain is valid for presentation. I always advise candidates to check this first.
However, a sparkling portfolio, along with a well-thought out CV really will set you apart from the competition. It’s no longer impressive to throw a few well-known brand names onto one’s CV and expect the interviews to roll in. Surprisingly few UX candidates (particularly visual designers) put enough effort into their portfolios. It’s not just an extension of your CV either. Several of my clients (house-hold names) now make it mandatory for a candidate to have a portfolio on application – so make it a good one even if it does involve sacrificing a few weekends or nights down the pub.