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CVs for Creative Careers | The Careers Service CVs for Creative Careers – Oxford University Careers Service
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Overview
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A creative CV is designed to showcase your creative skills, and is often used to demonstrate skills for a role which includes elements of design, art, technology, marketing, data presentation or production.

It can be used to grab an employer’s attention in sectors where speculative approaches for jobs and work experience are common, e.g. advertising, PR, marketing or media. Remember it’s the role and not the sector that matters when you are plotting your creative approach. For example, if you are applying to be an Account Manager at a top advertising agency they wouldn’t usually expect to see a super quirky video CV but they might for a design role in the same agency’s creative team. The more ‘creative’ your CV becomes the more of a high risk strategy it can be so make sure it reflects the style of the organisation you are applying to and genuinely represents your character. The more people you show it to for creative feedback the better.

Types of creative CV
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There are various possible formats for your CV, depending on what creative ability you are aiming to demonstrate. Download a table for ideas.

‘Portfolio Taster’ CV

A Portfolio Taster CV uses a more traditional CV layout with added images of your artistic work. Examples act as ‘tasters’ of your portfolio, and could be small photographs (or still images from a film), or pieces created directly around or within the CV format.

Remember:

  • A balance between the ‘tasters’, the factual detail and white space is important
  • Relevance to the reader is still key
  • To focus solely on you as an artist, the CV needs to include an ‘artists statement’ (an explanation of your work or collection) as well as a short biography containing relevant information on your background and artistic development
  • If you expand this into a document to accompany your portfolio, make sure to ensure consistency across both

Top tip

If you have a traditional CV and no time to reformat it to fit in lots of images of your work, consider either adding one, well chosen image as a ‘logo’ in the header, or a subtle background image (though check for readability).

Video CV

An example of a video CV by Graeme Anthony can be seen on Youtube. Graeme’s video was covered by the BBC, and he found work in PR rapidly, but left the video up to ‘inspire others to demonstrate their natural creativity and secure work’. Note the credits: always clarify where you had help.

Top tips

  • Could you link to or embed existing clips of you in a professional scenario on your LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’re citing your experience on the committee of a ball? Add a link to a clip that underlines the scale and success of the venture. Perhaps you’re keen to convey your commercial acumen? A clip you designed that advertised your student drama production could demonstrate your marketing strategy.
  • Make sure any video links are to a video hosting account or webpage that you have some control over and that cites your involvement clearly – you don’t want the video moved, edited, or credited to someone else!

Infographic CV

An infographic uses simple, aesthetically pleasing charts/graphs to quickly illustrate information.

Top tips

  • Decide what kind of data you might be asked to showcase visually if you got the job. Look at the organisation’s website – what data are they publicly presenting as an infographic? Use this research to tailor the kind of data and complexity.
  • No time to make an infographic? Use Vizualize Me to auto-generate an infographic CV for free. This is even quicker if you can sign up using a completed LinkedIn profile. Note though that if you are applying for a job that requires design skills, the design should be done by yourself, not an automated computer programme!
  • Make sure the data you’re displaying is usable: even beautiful data still needs accurate units, titles, labels and keys.

Multimedia CVs

Often used by non-2D artists to illustrate skills, multimedia CVs range in form from DVDs to CVs transmitted on objects (illustrating the creative skills employed in their creation).

Even more so than other CVs, these can be timely and expensive to create. It is always advisable to contact the employer to check their interest before sending them.

Top tips

  • If short on time, use simple blog templates to get your material visible online at speed. Use web statistics (such as Google Analytics) to track whether those you send it to open it. Then decide if there’s time and interest enough to take it further.
  • Take two minutes to consider: ‘Will the company appreciate this format’? If in doubt, ask.
Alternative creative approaches
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If you are trying to grab an employer’s attention in a sector where speculative approaches are common, such as advertising, PR, marketing and media, then there are hundreds of different ways you could do this. Speculative approaches are all about selling your skills, motivation and your personality to a company/employer who doesn’t necessarily have clearly advertised job vacancies or work experience programmes. It can also work well in saturated industries where a traditional CV and cover letter isn’t enough to make you stand out from the crowd. The key is to gauge company culture and then proceed strategically. Past examples of creative speculative approaches include:

  • A box of cupcakes with printed QR codes on the icing. The QR code included a CV and cover letter and just in case the cupcakes were damaged, a postcard with the QR code was also included in the box with a friendly note about the cupcakes and their ingredients.
  • A cartoon strip about a candidate was sent to a magazine executive and told the candidate’s story of their challenging hunt for work experience in the competitive world of magazine journalism.
  • An aspiring digital marketer devised a game in which her life experience becomes the board, complete with character ‘bonuses’.
  • A sewn CV! One candidate wanted to represent her affection for sewing and design so she posted a piece of beautiful material with her CV sewn onto the fabric.
  • For more examples read Creative Bloq’s article on creative resumes.

Just remember, these examples have already been done so put your own creative spin on an existing idea, or use your imagination to think of something new to really stand out from the creative crowd. Remember too, that if you’re in doubt as to whether a creative approach would work for your chosen industry, there are alumni mentors on the Oxford Careers Network who can help advise, as well as Careers Advisers.

Making creative CVs successful
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Although they may look different, the same rules apply as for traditional CVs.

Be concise

Use one or two full pages for a Word/PDF document, a single webpage without an overly long scroll bar if online, or a video CV incorporating clear sections, all just a minute or two in length. Remember, your interviewer may have many CVs to review, and won’t be able to spend a huge amount of time on one.

Remember the purpose

Your CV is to get you the interview or meeting, not the job itself – highlight what you have achieved that makes the reader want to learn more by meeting you. It is not an almanac of your whole life, but a functional document addressing their requirements.

Check for functionality

If an employer’s eye scans it, will they pick up something that makes them keep going? If an employer prints it out, or opens it in an earlier version of Word or on a different operating system, will it hold its formatting?

Tailor it

Present your skills and experience that the particular employer is looking for, in the design that might best appeal. Building in areas which are relatively quick to tailor (editable text, or an alternate graphic which can be cut and pasted to the same position) is something to consider from the outset and will save you time.

Emphasise relevance

Describe your experience in a way that focuses on the things you’ve learnt, the skills you’ve used successfully, your responsibilities and achievements. Avoid focusing on the detail that doesn’t translate into their world.

Don’t forget your degree

Show how your course has given you knowledge, skills and developed your abilities.

Check that it works

It’s easy to lose sight of the end user with a design-led project – test it out by sharing it with friends, book an appointment with a Careers Adviser, and most importantly, ask the opinion of industry professionals in your chosen field.

Our resources
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  • Creative CV Guide – a fantastically detailed guide to Creative CVs, featuring lots of different formats: from folded paper, to multimedia DVDs. A hard copy is available in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road.
External resources
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Video Resources

Other Resources

This information was last updated on 04 March 2020.
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