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Get Creative With Your CV!

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Unfortunately good CV writing skills are a necessary evil that haunts most of us at some time in our lives. Our CV is as essential part of setting us on our desired career path and getting us our first break.  So how can you make your CV the striking and persuasive sales tool it needs to be? How do you make your CV stand out in a saturated market?

I am the Placement Coordinator for Skillset Media Academy Wales and I have to read several CVs each week when our student and graduate members apply for work placements. I think the best piece of advice I can offer is ‘keep it simple’. We have all heard stories about gimmicks such as having your CV delivered to the boss in a take away pizza box, using orange or purple paper, and including fancy images – but the resounding feedback is that none of these things will make your CV any more appealing than a simple sheet of good quality white A4 which gives succinct, clear and concise information about who you are, what you do and most importantly what you can bring to a company.

We have recently advertised internships with Disney, The BBC and The Weinstein Co – all of whom will be inundated with speculative CVs each day. Your CV needs to grab them in the first few sentences, so it is a good idea to add a personal statement – only short, but enough to tell them what position you are looking for and what skills you have to do the job. For instance – “An animation graduate specialising in stop motion, with puppet and prop making experience. An aspiring character animator and director looking to be involved with projects that challenge and improve my skills.”

Never churn out the same CV for different job applications. Always ensure you tweak it so it is bespoke and tailored to the company to whom you are applying. You will need to rearrange the information to suit. Sometimes your education and training will need to come first, and sometimes your work experience should take priority, depending on what essential criteria you are trying to meet. If you are applying for a role which stipulates certain skills in Flash or Toon Boon, then any training or work experience that you have in this area should be prominent and take priority over your weekend bar job in Hooters. You want your skills to be the focal point.

Think about the layout and design of your CV.  You are applying for a job in the creative media industry so you need to demonstrate some level of visual flair.  Avoid old-fashioned fonts like Times New Roman, and make your headings stand out by using bold fonts.  There is no need to start your CV with the words Curriculum Vitae – it’s just stating the obvious.  Think about how you name the document itself – include your full name and the month/year to show that the CV is current, eg: ‘ Joe Bloggs CV June 2011’.

When applying for a role within the creative visual industries, one of things you will always need is a link to your showreel. I would put this link at the top of your CV after your contact details. Any animation company will want to see the type of work that you have produced in the past. They will see straight away your style, your personality, how you interpret your thoughts creatively and how all of these things may or may not be suitable for their organisation.

Remember to regularly update this showreel – if you haven’t added anything new for over 12 months it won’t tell them that you are a dedicated animator keen to stay at the top of your game and is sure to put your CV to the bottom of the pile. You should also ensure that everything that you show on your showreel is actually your own work. It could be embarrassing if you reach interview stage and they choose to question you on a particular section of a film which was done by your classmate. If you only did the colour grade or the rendering – be honest. These are valuable skills too!

CV writing skills don’t come naturally to many of us. But be comforted by the fact that most of the other applicants are in the same boat – we are not natural self-marketers. Try to put yourself in the place of the recipient – what would you like to read on someone’s CV – especially if you had to read through 150 of them! Spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar will be an irritant which will immediately set you on a back foot. Read through your CV, and ask someone else to check it, before you send it off…And who knows your phone might just ring!

Skillset Media Academy Wales supports students and graduates from 26 courses at University of Wales College Newport, University of Glamorgan, Aberystwyth University and Swansea Metropolitan. We offer a dedicated placement service to our members, offering support in the difficult phase of moving on from education and entering the creative media industry.  Our service has become a vital link for students and graduates seeking work experience, and for production companies on the hunt for media-savvy trainees. You can find out more about the Academy by visiting:  www.mediaacademywales.org

Article by Alex Leadley, Placement Coordinator at Skillset Media Academy Wales

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