By Billy Dowling-Reid | Last Updated 11 September 2016
Firstly, here is a small but growing list of real life CVs that have been anonymously donated by individuals who are working within the UK media industry. Browse these CVs to get an idea of layouts and content you might want to be using in your own CV. Check back regularly as more CVs are donated and published.
CV Example: Production Runner / Driver with Procam - Added 11 September 2016
CV Example: Producer with BBC Radio and talkRADIO - Added 5 September 2016
CV Example: Creative Writer in Broadcast Radio with Bauer Media - Added 5 September 2016
CV Example: Videographer / Production Assistant with IMG Productions - Added 5 September 2016
CV Example: Publications Assistant with University of Edinburgh - Added 5 September 2016
CV Example: Assistant Commissioning Editor with Edinburgh University Press - Added 5 September 2016
CV Example: Search Engine Marketer at a Digital Marketing Agency - Added 5 September 2016
DONATE YOUR CV HERE | VIEW EXAMPLE COVER LETTERS
GENERAL CV ADVICE - A BRIEF INTRODUCTION:
Working in television production from 2008 until 2011, I often found myself being charged with the task of sorting through CVs from speculative, entry-level applicants. In more recent years, I have freelanced on/off in recruitment, choosing which CVs to bin and which to forward on to clients such as NBCUniversal, Global Radio and Diagonal View. I have a good idea of what makes for a good CV and what does not, and felt it would be useful to share some of these insights with you.
Firstly, realise that no matter how much Googling you do, you are not going to find a perfect, one-size-fits-all CV template, solution or magical piece of advice.
Most of the following tips come down to basic common sense and may almost come off as patronising, but please understand that I see people making the same mistakes over and over again.
And I really do mean it when I say it, so it is worth repeating: people keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
BEFORE YOU START:
Give yourself time: If an amazing job opportunity comes up, it can be tempting just to rattle off a CV and send it out as quickly as possible. This is a bad idea as you’ll often read over the document at a later date and notice various typos and other mistakes, so please don’t rush. Have a default CV prepared before you even look for jobs. Tailor it to each job for which you apply.
Check out other CVs: The Internet is a wonderful resource and a quick Google search should be able to help you uncover several real CVs from individuals who are working in the same area as you. Examine these CVs critically. Would you invite this person for an interview? How could their CV be improved? Why not start by browsing some of the CVs provided above?
Check/enhance your online presence: In these digital times, your CV is often just one piece of the puzzle. There are various other things you should be taking into account, such as your online social networks, blogs and general web presence (much more on that in this article).
One Page is enough for an entry level CV. One page. Always, always, always try to get it down to one page if you're at the very beginning of your career. Employers scan your CV, so keep it short and sweet for them. Be selective with what you include. Be ruthless. You absolutely should be able to fit everything onto a single sheet of A4 paper.
Very often, I receive CVs which are two or three pages in length and which contain endless amounts of superfluous, fluffy drivel.
Phone numbers (preferably mobile) and email addresses are the most important contact details to include. Have a respectable, non-embarrassing email address.
This top section of the CV is the place to list your name (obviously), but also your job title. Spell out what it is that you do.
I have my date of birth on my CV. It's up to you if you want to include yours.
Employers sometimes request that you omit certain details such as age, ethnicity etc. So look out for that.
THE PERSONAL STATEMENT:
Here is a poor personal statement:
This is pointless and misguided. What use is an obsession with television to anybody? The statement is very vague and clearly not tailored to any specific role or genre (just a general love for television). Avoid clichés. Nobody really cares much if you list ‘hard working’ and ‘passionate’ as positive attributes. Those things should be a given.
The personal statement isn’t personal. It’s not about your childhood, nor is it necessarily about why you want to work in media. It’s about your main selling points – summarised, tailored, factual and modest.
But here's the thing: Do you even need a personal statement? Actually, the answer is no. It’s entirely up to you. CV space is precious and if you are having trouble cutting down on what to include, then the personal statement can be among the first things you chop. Sure, it provides context, but so does your cover letter.
Remember that nobody can hold your hand. A publishing industry personal statement is going to be wordier than a television industry personal statement. The point here is that it doesn't matter which media sector you want to work in, the basic objective remains the same: whittle your personal statement down to its bare bones.
List your work experience in reverse chronological order. As with everything on a CV, briefer is better. If relevant, include a summary of achievements from each job. Try and make them relevant to the job vacancy for which you are currently applying. There is almost always a link that can be made somewhere.
If you are very much at the entry level and have never had a job ‘in the media’ before, then listing sales assistant jobs and other such non-relevant things is fine. After all, a job is a job, and it is good to show that you have been working and developing transferable skills. However, as time moves on, and you find yourself working more in media-based roles, you should eliminate these older, less relevant jobs from your resume. As 2008 drew to a close, I had just finished up working in retail. This is now nowhere to be found on my CV, nor has it been in many years.
Make sure to date all work experience with a year and month.
If you are 28-years-old and left school 12 years ago, then no one is really going to care about your GCSE/Standard Grades from high school. If you have just recently left school, then you can list these.
It is generally best to get the qualifications out of the way as quickly as possible. They needn’t take up too much space. Got a degree or other relevant qualification? Great, but try to fit this information into as compact a space as possible. Too often I see CVs where half a page or more is dedicated to your first degree, your second degree, modules you took, your college night class, societies you joined... wasted space.
I don’t even have a specific section for education. I just lump my honours degree in with my personal information at the top of my CV. Beneath my email address, I leave a line blank and then simply state: “BA (Hons) Film & Media - Queen Margaret University (2009).” This is the only reference to education included in my entire CV, but it tells you everything you need to know. It's just a qualification. The important part is your work experience.
Don't have any relevant work experience? Create some!
A skills section can be useful if you think the skills will be relevant to the job at hand. Bullet points are your friend here. If you are multilingual or have an advanced knowledge of HTML, then these are useful skills for multimedia environments. This section generally goes towards the end of your CV.
HOBBIES & INTERESTS:
Nobody needs to know that you like socialising with your friends, or that you enjoy travelling, as nice as those things are. Any hobbies/interests which you do include should be relevant to the job at hand. This entire category is best excluded most of the time.
THINGS NOT TO INCLUDE:
This may sound stupidly obvious, but don’t list things on your CV which you’re not actually good at. You might list ‘Final Cut Pro’ as one of your skills (and many people do), but is Final Cut Pro really something you know inside and out? Are you really a skilled video editor, or is it just something you've messed around with a few times? It's not that you're lying, it's just that you might be unaware of how little you actually know about video editing, beyond the very basics.
Avoid using silly words to describe yourself. It happens all too often. Words to avoid include: dynamic, visionary, excellent, confident, motivated, self-starter, enthusiastic, creative. These empty words will not further your cause. Instead of simply telling me that you are a self-starter, you need to show me that you are a self-starter, by providing evidence, such as your industry-relevant blog, a multimedia campaign you spearheaded, or something interesting and unique along those lines.
Don’t talk about yourself in the third person either. That happens sometimes.
The presentation will be taken into account before a single word is read, on an almost subconscious level.
Choose a fresh looking, clean-cut font such as Verdana or Arial. Generally, a font size of 10 or thereabouts will do for your main body of writing. Subheadings should be larger and/or in bold with an underline. Consider giving all text contained within your CV a line spacing of 1.5 to give the document more of a spacious feel.
You can make your CV more impactful with visual aids such as bullet points, line breaks and bold formatting to highlight keywords. This is especially useful when we remember that employers tend to scan our CVs. Don’t go overboard with fancy gimmicks and flashy colours. Aim for clean and simple.
Always export and send your CV as a .PDF file and not as a .DOC file.
LEARN TO CRITICISE YOURSELF:
You really have to distance yourself from your CV. Being able to rigorously criticise yourself is one of the most valuable skills you can develop – especially if you are looking to forge a career in the media industry). Proofread your CV thoroughly in order to weed out any typos. Read through the document as an employer would, by scanning the entire page within twenty to thirty seconds. Pretend you are the boss, reading your CV as if it was written by somebody else. Get others to read your CV, too. Get feedback from a variety of sources.
Ultimately, CVs can be quickly cast into the junk pile for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to capture the reader’s attention.
- Too many pages.
- Poor presentation.
- Long sentences/paragraphs with too many empty words and phrases.
- Poor grammar/spelling.
- Clearly not tailored to the job vacancy in question.
If you can avoid these fatal flaws, then you stand a good chance of at least being considered.
Remember, there is no ‘ultimate’ way to write a CV. There are endless CV variations out there and each is perfectly acceptable, so long as they fulfil their singular objective of getting you a job interview.