Writing a CV

The purpose of the CV is to get an interview. It should show that you have achieved things the employer is looking for. CVs need to remain flexible – you may send out slightly different CVs to every prospective employer. Each should be tailored to your specific skills and experiences in relation to the job for which you are applying. The information below is meant as a general guideline, but if you want more specific suggestions on writing CVs for artists, visit Artquest.  

Presentation

Your CV should be clean, concise and easy to read. It is an example of your written communication skills. There should be no errors, including spelling errors or grammatical errors. It should be easy to copy, email and print from PDF form.

If the design is too elaborate, it could be difficult to read or not to the taste of the employer and could prevent you from getting an interview. Balance white space with text. A standard layout is to have headings on the left:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Website

There is no need to put marital status or date of birth on the CV.

Add a brief statement - your 10 second pitch

This can be a career summary, a profile, an objective or an artistic statement. It should bring together your skills and experiences, qualifications and achievements. It should make the employer want to learn more. It should be factual and focused and maybe contain some highlights from your CV. Chose three to six skills or traits that tie in with what the employer is looking for. If you choose to write a cover letter instead - some jobs require one - you can leave out this statement as long as you incorporate the above into a business-format letter delivered simultaneously with your CV.

Follow with your work experience

Include what you did, not just what you were responsible for or what your title was:

  • Company or job title
  • Time in the position/with the company
  • Skills used or responsibilities

Typically, your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order - this works best if your career has followed a logical progression:

BBC Television, London, 2010
Position: Freelance Motion Graphics Designer
Responsibilities: Created 10 second stings for commercial idents
Dazed & Confused, London, 2009
Position: Freelance Graphic Designer
Responsibilities: Designed editorial content, commissioned illustrators and photographers
Pentagram, London, 2008 - 2007
Position: Design intern
Responsibilities: Assistant to Angus Hyland

Alternatively, your CV can be functional, organising your career by skills and experience, such as 'project management skills' or 'design skills'. You may find this useful if you are looking to change careers or if your job titles, companies or industries do not reflect the type of work you are looking for:

Project Management Skills
Studio Manager
Hackney Artist-led studios with open access print room for public, London, 2010
Responsibilities: organising artists and studio space; financial management; funding applications; liaising with general public; providing print assistance
Curator/Project Manager and successful Arts Council applicant
Nether/Land; Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2009
Dutch/British group digital print show
Responsibilities: writing proposals, catalogue and press releases; financial management; organising UK/overseas artists and transit; curating artwork; event management
Curator/Project Manager
RCA Printmaking Interim Show; London, 2008
Responsibilities: writing press releases; organising artists; curating artwork; event management

Supplement by telling your story

The rest of your CV should support your application by showing relevant experience that supplements your job application. There should not be any time gaps, even if you did take time out to travel. Put this in – it all adds to your experience.

  • It might be best to start with your college experience. State your degree(s) and awards and years in attendance
  • List significant projects that would be relevant to the job you are applying for. It is important to state what you achieved. Sometimes the job itself might not appear to be that relevant - but your achievements demonstrate transferable skills. This is especially important if you have less than five years of experience
  •  Make the CV relevant to the job. Use your college experience as work experience. Aim to devise case studies that demonstrate what you have accomplished in ways that will be relevant for the job - you may have organised a seminar, participated in a public forum, won a competition, etc.

Length

For less than 10 years of experience, your CV should be no more than two pages.

Key points

  • The employer should be able to read your CV quickly
  • After your personal details, give a concise profile or artist statement
  • List your experience in reverse chronological order
  • Quantify your achievements – state not only what you were responsible for, but also what you achieved
  • Keep the layout simple and easy to email or print
  • Find out what is required in the position you are applying for and make sure your CV addresses this
  • There should be no mistakes on your CV, or in your covering letter. Get your spelling and grammar checked over by someone with good written English

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