When Lee Newham worked as a senior designer at London-based consultancy P&W, he’d receive three or four CVs each day. Here’s his stellar advice on how to get your CV to the top of the pile.

Door knock

CV tips for graphic designers

99% of CVs are poorly designed. It’s a struggle.

If your CV is good, and relevant to me, you have a higher chance of getting a response.

The creative director often isn’t the person to contact. Many times senior designers are the first port of call for interviews. There is no harm in sending a CV to more than one person at an agency.

Be creative, but don't be pushy. Agencies find it very difficult to enlist good staff. That’s why most use expensive recruitment agencies.

Here's my advice to graphic designers trying to get their CV to the top of the pile:

  1. Brand yourself. Make yourself memorable. I know that some people may disagree with this, which seems to be a USA thing, but your CV is seen by a creative, not the accountants. 'Wow' them.
  2. Be more than a sheet of paper. Most CVs are now sent by email. What can you do to differentiate yourself?
  3. Don’t include things I don’t care about, like ’I once worked as a waiter’ or ’I got a qualification in chemistry’. I don’t care if you like swimming. I do care, however, if you saw the last lecture by Paul Rand before he died and what your thoughts were. Make it relevant.
  4. Ensure everything is beautifully presented. Consider your kerning and double-check there are no silly mistakes — we all want to employ a safe pair of hands.
  5. Follow-up anything you send with a phone call, but remember, don’t hassle, be polite. Ask them what they thought of your CV and how it could be improved.
  6. Don’t try too hard. One student sent a mailer that was a fake bomb (with the tag line ’dynamite designer’. The bomb squad were called and the designer was contacted — by the police. He didn’t get the job. This raises another point — don’t boast, no-one wants to employ an arrogant designer. Never say you are the best. Leave that to Mohammed Ali.

Patience + time = job. Good luck.

When your foot’s in the door, Lee’s interview tips will help you nail the next step.

References available upon request (and other things to leave off your resume), by Seth Godin
10 tips for a better cover letter, by Steve Pavlina
LinkedIn: let's liven things up, and When good CVs go bad, on The Writer's thingamablog
A few honest tips for job-seeking designers, on Cognition

Post photo by Nadia Carol