With a graphic design CV you can be slightly more creative than other job applicants. However, the first person who sees your CV will most likely be a recruiter or a HR advisor, rather than a line manager in the creative department. This means that the reviewer will be looking at content rather than design. Therefore your first priority must be to ensure legibility in both hard and soft copy.
The content of your CV should include the information that is in all CVs:
- Contact details
- Objective / overview
- Qualifications, training and education
- Career history
- Personal interests
Additionally, for a design CV you can also include extra information relating to your work:
- Type of output – brochures, logos, catalogues, POS
- Details of industry, sectors or clients and a breakdown of material produced
- IT packages and level of expertise – InDesign expert, Illustrator intermediate
Save your CV in pdf and doc (not docx) format. PDF generally looks better, especially for documents with a graphic element, but some recruitment systems are built for Word documents, so you need to make sure you have both formats covered.
Once your text based CV has been created there is nothing to stop you also producing a separate document as an example of your graphic design skills. Produce one version in pdf format and consider then how other formats can be adapted.
One graphic design CV I came across was laid out in an Infographic format where the career history was displayed as a timeline – employers above the line and activities below the line. The candidate also included a 3D pie chart depicting the major parts of their daily output – productivity, focus, coffee intake and humour. It came across as a clever way of showing that the person was hard-working but also a positive force in the office.
The CV was visually appealing, grabbed the reader’s attention from the start and then increased the engagement the more time the reader spent on the document. The format was also very clear with the information easy to locate. Probably most importantly the format was used as a means to an end – to provide the reader with important details more effectively than would be possible on paper. It is key that the medium should serve the message, not the other way round.
If you are considering opting for a CV with a graphic design element, spend time thinking about the type of organisations you will be targeting and the style that they favour. You can get a sense of this from their websites and any pdf brochures that are available to download. Do they seem very corporate with uniform styling throughout or do they favour flashy design with funky colour schemes? By reviewing a few websites in the sector(s) or industry you are targeting you will quickly get a sense of what fits well. You can then tailor your approach accordingly.