Looking to land your dream job with a creative CV? Check out our top tips for crafting an impressive and innovative resume that will make you stand out from the crowd and maximize your resume's impact in 2023 and beyond!
As a creative professional, your CV should showcase your skills, experience, and personality to potential employers. However, recruiters and hiring managers are constantly bombarded with applications, so an average CV won’t cut it – especially in a field where creativity is valued above all else.
“As a Talent Partner, you see CVs of all sorts, shapes, and sizes,” says Imy Storm, Senior Talent Partner at Envato. “While the bells and whistles can make you stand out, your CV should still convey key information about you, your experience, and your skills. It should provide a killer first impression and a bird’s eye view of your career journey.”
So what makes a killer CV? We chatted with Imy to get her top tips, strategies, and advice for creating a CV that stands out. Ready to take your creative career to the next level? From choosing the right format and design to highlighting your skills and abilities, here’s how to ace your creative CV!
1. Use Clean Design
In today’s competitive job market, a well-designed and visually appealing CV can make all the difference. Beyond listing your qualifications and experiences, your CV should reflect your professionalism, attention to detail, and unique personal brand. One powerful approach to achieving these goals is through utilizing clean design.
“A clean, simple design is key,” says Imy. “You’d be amazed how many CVs don’t fit this brief, so good design stands out. Busy, complex CVs can be hard to read and make it challenging to locate the relevant information.”
Clean design focuses on simplicity, clarity, and functionality. Using a clean, minimal design can transform your CV from a mere list of accomplishments into a visually captivating narrative to grab the attention of recruiters and leave a lasting impression. By embracing clean design principles, you can transform your CV into a powerful and professional tool while highlighting all your best features.
“When designing your CV, take some time to think about your color palette, formatting, and typography,” Imy continues. “Also, carefully consider the content hierarchy, and ensure the information is relevant, clear, and easily accessible. If a design choice makes it more difficult for someone to locate the key information they need, it’s probably not the right choice. As a general rule of thumb, stick to clean design for your CV, and let your folio speak for itself – this is where you can truly showcase your creativity.”
If you don’t have time to design your CV from scratch, use one of these clean, minimalist templates from Envato Elements.
2. Unleash Your Personality & Individuality
In the creative industries, employers seek more than just a shopping list of skills – they want to connect with individuals who bring something unique to the table. That’s why infusing your CV with a touch of personality is a powerful strategy to help you stand out from the crowd.
Your CV doesn’t have to be just a dull tool to showcase your credentials; it’s an opportunity to paint a vivid picture of who you are as a professional and a person. Incorporating individuality into your CV will humanize your application, enabling potential employers to form a deeper connection with you and better understand the person behind the projects.
“Showing your personality doesn’t have to mean an elaborate, flashy CV that takes months to create – it’s just about making it yours,” says Imy. “As a Talent Acquisition Partner, I see a lot of CVs, so getting a sense of who you are and what makes you “you” not only makes you stand out but also helps information to stick.
This can be done in so many different ways – such as a bio, an interesting fact, a poem about your dog, or simply your interests (I once read a CV that listed fried chicken as their sole interest, and it spoke to me so much I’ve never forgotten it). You can also show your individuality through your chosen color palette, design flair, or listing your favorite designer, writer, or director. You do you!”
Here are some questions to consider when putting together your CV:
- Who are you?
- What are your goals?
- What clients, brands, or companies have you worked for or with?
- What sort of projects have you done?
- What are your essential skills, interests, and passions?
- What’s different or interesting about you?
3. Show Off Your Creativity
If you’re applying for a creative job – particularly in the design field – it’s crucial to show off your creativity and flaunt your craft. From designing a visually appealing layout to incorporating expressive language, get creative to leave a memorable impression on potential employers.
While creativity is often associated with design, art, or illustration, it can extend far beyond that. It could mean infusing your CV with innovative elements, highlighting your ability to think outside the box to solve problems, or bringing a fresh perspective to a role or organization.
“Think about how you’re displaying your craft in the context of your CV,” says Imy. “If you’re a Graphic Designer, as a Talent Acquisition Partner, I’ll take particular notice of the look and feel of your CV, the layout, the design, the color palette, etc. If you’re a copywriter, I’ll be more interested in your tone of voice, writing style, and grasp of grammar and punctuation.”
While design trends can be fun to explore, don’t feel like your CV must represent all the latest creative trends to be relevant. Done well, trends can look great – but not if it means the CV stops serving its primary purpose. Ultimately, your CV should provide an overview of your experience and skills. If you’re unsure it’s fulfilling this brief, get a friend, family member, or objective party to review it. Can they locate all the relevant info? Do they understand your job? Can they pull out your key skills and achievements?
“While we all have personal preferences and opinions on design aesthetics and trends, there’s no denying that layout, color palette, and typography are important,” Imy continues. “That said, I’m certainly not expecting out-of-this-world CVs! It’s great when a CV gives us a sense of you as a creative individual, but it also needs to be a functional document – the information should be easy to find, clear, and accessible.”
4. Highlight Your Key Skills, Achievements & Important Details
Your CV is a snapshot of your career journey, skills, and achievements. Recruiters spend limited time reviewing each application, so present these important details prominently and highlight key skills in your CV to immediately communicate your qualifications to potential employers.
“Always highlight your achievements instead of giving a shopping list of your day-to-day responsibilities. This brings you and your role to life and indicates what’s important to you. If possible, include some quantitative data – in what can often be a sea of text, numbers, and figures can catch the eye and give some context to your achievements. Similarly, client names can stand out if you’ve worked for an agency or as a freelancer or contractor. Include brands relevant to the company you’re applying to, whether that’s industry-specific, a competitor, a similar target customer, or a start-up or challenger brand.”
However, employers are not only interested in the skills you possess but also how you have applied them to achieve results in previous roles. Demonstrate this by highlighting relevant expertise, quantifying your accomplishments, and emphasizing your impact in past positions. It can also pay to list any relevant qualifications or skills you possess, such as your educational background, certifications, relevant training, or any unique qualifications that set you apart.
“Spell out the programs, software, or skills you’re proficient in (e.g., Figma, Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, Cinema 4D / Graphic Design, UI, Motion Design, 3D Modeling, etc.),” Imy advises. “Many creatives do this, but these lists are still beneficial. They’re easy to read and give me the information I want. Feel free to include the things you’re learning more about, too – it doesn’t have to be only the stuff you’re an expert in. There are heaps of things that our teams want to improve, and we may be looking for future skills down the track, which probably haven’t been included in a job ad. We want learners and people genuinely passionate about their craft, industry, and community.”
5. Don’t Go Overboard
Your creative CV should exist at the juncture of form and function, so communicating the right information is key. However, choosing between the right detail and the right amount of detail can be a real balancing act.
“Stick to a CV that’s one or two pages, and then use your folio, website, or showreel to supplement this and showcase your creative skills,” says Imy. “While I’m not necessarily looking for a list of every single responsibility you’ve ever had, if your CV solely comprises a list of job titles and companies, it can be difficult to interpret what you’ve actually done.
Don’t get me wrong, the latter can look very cool and minimalist, but we don’t know what you don’t tell us, and as a recruiter going through 100s of CVs for multiple jobs, there’s often a time constraint. A CV that requires considerable follow-up and research may get written off by some.”
A concise CV ensures the most relevant information is readily accessible and excludes unnecessary details. By distilling your information into the key points, you’ll allow your skills, achievements, and experiences to shine through.
“If you’re trying to figure out what to include and remove, I’d advise giving the job description another read to get a sense of the key criteria. Figure out where there’s overlap with your skills, experience, or achievements, and highlight them, bring them to the forefront, and make them visible. If you’re running out of space, you can always direct people to your LinkedIn – that way, you can include your entire career journey without overkilling the CV.”
Ultimately, treat your CV like a snapshot of you, and be smart about what you’re including, how you’re presenting information, and calling out your differentiators. Just because I can’t see something on your CV doesn’t mean I don’t think you’ve done it. However, some companies use software to pick keywords, so it may pay to be savvy.”
6. Edit & Proofread Your CV
Editing and proofreading your CV is an essential step you shouldn’t overlook. A well-edited and proofread CV increases your chances of making a positive and lasting impression on recruiters by demonstrating your attention to detail, professionalism, and commitment to delivering high-quality work.
“This one might seem obvious but try to avoid spelling errors and inconsistencies in your CV,” says Imy. “While attention to detail is important in many roles (I’d advise giving your CV a good proofread before submitting), we’ve all got our strengths, and I would never sideline someone based solely on a few spelling mistakes. In saying that, I might question their suitability if a graphic designer sent me an unformatted Word Doc or a copywriter sent me a CV full of grammatical and linguistic errors.”
Spend time editing your CV to refine the language, structure, and formatting and ensure clarity and coherence. Eliminate unnecessary or redundant information, and thoroughly proofread your CV to catch any overlooked errors, typos, or inconsistencies to ensure it’s polished and error-free. If editing isn’t your wheelhouse, there are plenty of tools available to help you edit and refine your CV – such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.
7. Link to Your Portfolio
Linking to your portfolio can significantly enhance your chances of landing a job or securing new opportunities. Your portfolio proves what you can do and gives employers a deeper understanding of your capabilities beyond what can be conveyed in a traditional CV. By including a link to your portfolio, you can showcase a more diverse range of work, such as design work, writing samples, branding projects, or any other concrete examples to support your expertise. By linking to your portfolio, potential employers can easily access and evaluate your work, giving you a competitive edge.
“Your CV should include a clear link to your folio or website. Prioritize this and feature it at the top of your CV – this is your USP,” says Imy. “CVs aren’t a natural fit for conveying genuine creativity, so a folio is where you can showcase your work and ramp it up a notch. Use this to your advantage: show case studies, your clients, your campaigns, and your passion projects. Create a folio that makes sense to you and highlights your style and tone of voice, and then echo these creative choices and themes via your CV.”
Additionally, a portfolio can be a great way to demonstrate your creative process and show more of who you are, how you work, and what you’re passionate about.
“With folios, it’s not just about the finished product – take the viewer through your process and the narrative: the why, what, and how,” she continues. “I want to get a feel for how you’ve approached and developed something, and why and how your ideas and concepts were translated and communicated in a way that engages customers, connects to the product strategy, and hits overarching business goals. This may seem like overkill, and every single one of these things may not apply to every project, but adding a few supporting sentences to speak to some of these points will go a long way.”
Consider these questions when putting together your folio:
- What was the project?
- What was the goal?
- What was the strategy, including the concepts, the execution, the outcomes, the value, and the challenges?
- What was your role?
8. Prioritize Passion & Potential
Passion is a powerful driver. By conveying a passion for your field or industry, you show employers that you’re just seeking a job but are invested in making a meaningful impact. Furthermore, showcasing your potential in your CV provides a glimpse into what you plan to achieve in the future. Employers often look for individuals who can grow, adapt, and contribute to an organization’s long-term goals. By highlighting your potential, you can demonstrate your capacity for improvement, innovation, and professional development.
“It’s my personal preference to prioritize potential over years of experience. The caveat is that, in a commercial world, every hire needs to work for the business and team. But, if I could, I’d I’de based on potential every time. Show your talent, flair, and what makes you stand out. Include your passion, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.”