A CV is a marketing document. Your marketing document. You can choose what to include and what to leave out, but it should reflect your personality and show your passion for the industry. Since it is often the first point of contact you’ll have with any prospective employer, it makes sense to spend some time making yours a great one that will stand out from the crowd.
What’s more, unlike in other industries where HR / Personnel staff are employed to filter job applications, your CV is more than likely to arrive directly on the desk of the person with the power to give you a job. These folk are always frighteningly busy, so your CV will have only seconds to impress. So what should you do? There are no guarantees, but here are a few things that might help……
• Write your CV with the employer in mind. Use only the most relevant information about your career, education and skills.
• Provide an accurate portrait of yourself. Remember, overselling is as bad as underselling.
• A standard CV is not enough. Tailor it to the individual employer.
• Your CV should be concise, relevant and well laid out. Keep it short – two pages maximum – and use the space wisely, which takes thought and planning.
• Make sure it looks professional. Is it typed? Is it on good quality paper? Are the spelling and grammar correct? (Don’t just rely on spell-check!)
• Is it easy to read? Avoid long sentences. Use active words, eg developed, managed,
researched, organised etc.
• Choose a modern font to reflect the image of the job – Arial is a safe bet – and don’t use more than one font. Capitals, italics etc. can be used for emphasis – but be consistent and don’t overdo it. Leave plenty of space on the page.
Employers will be looking for the following information, which should be on the front page:
• What you can do for them
• What work you have done of the kind that they produce (eg a TV programme, a game etc)
• If you haven’t worked in this area, what new ideas and skills you can bring from other areas you have worked in
• Who you have worked for that the employer knows and trusts
• Whether you want to work for this employer or are just anxious to get work generally
• Where you live
• Whether you can be contacted easily
Your CV should always be sent with a covering letter. This is an opportunity to speak directly to the employer, so it is worth spending time getting it right. Remember, it should:
• be addressed to the right person. Research this thoroughly beforehand.
• be brief and not repeat information in the CV.
• have three parts, namely:
1. The reason for writing, eg “I was very interested in the article in July’s Callsheet and your plans to use Digital…..”
2. Your selling points or how your CV meets this need – flag up the relevant points in your CV
3. A prompt for further action, eg “I’d welcome the chance to meet you.”
And remember to follow up, striking a balance between genuine interest and causing
Read on for a suggested layout for your CV, intended as a guide, not as fixed rules.
A Line-by-Line Suggested Layout for your CV
* a guide, not a fixed rule……
1. Don’t include the heading “Curriculum Vitae” – this wastes space and it’s obvious what the document is.)
2. Your name
3. Your Job Title (by placing this after your name, the two become associated)
4. Your contact details – address, phone number, e-mail etc.
5. A Personal Profile
Include a short, punchy, positive statement about yourself to make a prospective employer sit up and take notice. A good personal profile will show your personality and play to your strengths, eg if you are at your best working in certain types of situations, say so. Personal profiles can easily sound arrogant and crass, but a well-written profile can be very effective. Employers take
them seriously and they do get people jobs.
Some tips about your personal profile……
• Write in the third party terms to reflect how others see you
• Describe what you do eg Production Manager, Runner, etc.
• Describe your key selling points – your skills, experience and knowledge
• Describe your attitude to work and the personal qualities that make you attractive to employ
• Keep it short – no more than thirty words
• Make sure your description of yourself is supported by the experience cited in the
• rest of your CV
• Be positive!
6. Key Skills
You can include these as an alternative to a Personal Profile, or to complement it.
List your key skills and experience as bullet points, including any equipment you have worked on or software you used. Start with the skills the employer is likely to be most interested in.
Start with your most recent work.
You don’t have to include everything, only work which is relevant to the employer. You can summarise other experience at the end, if there is space.
A list of productions worked on doesn’t tell an employer very much, so you should describe the particular contribution you made, especially if it was challenging eg working to a tight budget.
Mention if you used a scarce skill or a piece of equipment that few people can operate.
Include relevant training courses on your CV. These are more likely to be of direct benefit to the employer than your qualifications, so list them first.
When listing qualifications, put the most relevant first, together with the place and date they were taken.
Only list Matric results if they are relevant or you don’t have a higher qualification.
Qualifications should come after your experience and personal profile. There are exceptions, eg for electricians, some engineers or safety officers, where qualifications are essential to the job. If this is the case, cite the appropriate qualifications in your personal profile or key skills summary.
Include membership of professional bodies and guilds here.
10. Personal details
Age? It’s better to include your date of birth rather than state your age. Alternatively, you can omit it altogether.
Marital Status? No-one cares. Leave it out. Likewise the number of kids you’ve got.
Interests / Hobbies? Advice on “standard” CVs recommends including interests, but these details are largely irrelevant to freelance employment. Only include them if they are related to the job. Remember, it might be important to you that you are SA National Foxtrot and Salsa Champion, but it may flag concerns to a potential employer that your mind and heart won’t be on the job.
Passport? If you are applying for work that requires overseas travel, your nationality might be significant as some passports require visas to visit certain places. Having a valid ID number is more important in SA.
Driving Licence? Holding a full licence essential to location work, so include these details if they are relevant. Mention if you have your own transport. Don’t mention it if you don’t.
Your Race / Culture? If you are from a previously disadvantaged group – if you are black, coloured, Indian for instance, or if you are female, mention your background. The industry is attempting to transform and there are still relatively few applications from qualified HDIs.
However, do do do do do include if you are fluent or proficient in any foreign languages. This is a business that relies on attracting and providing services to the international industry, so anything that will help your potential future bosses do this makes sense.