What makes a decent CV

Written by Joe Holdcroft

This year we've been doing a fair bit of hiring. At the start of March we hired Danny as our new Assistant Developer, and we're now looking for a Frontend Developer / Designer. So, needless to say we've seen a lot of CVs for people looking for work in the creative web industry. So here are some general rules and pointers for applying for a job that, in our opinion, would give you an instant advantage!

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If you have 10 years experience in the industry you're applying to, must you really mention that you also worked in McDonalds for 6 months after leaving school?

CVs tend to drone on a bit, especially for those who have many years of experience. The company hiring is going to be looking at a lot of applicant's CVs so try and keep them as short as possible without sacrificing important information.

If you can keep your CV to one or two pages, you are a winner. It doesn't matter if you have 25 years experience, it's still possible and won't get hinder your chances at getting the job.

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This is an easy one. Always send your CV as a .pdf file. Not a .doc, not a .rtf, not a .docx, not a .pages. A .pdf, and always a .pdf. Why? Because every modern computer is capable of opening a PDF and it will look the same to everyone who opens it. That's the whole point. The clue is in the name: Portable Document Format.

To make a PDF is native on a Mac and fairly easily do-able on a PC too. If you don't know how then you probably shouldn't be applying for a position in this field!

Add some character, man!

Have a look at the company hiring and their website and judge what tone you should adopt in your application. Of course your CV will be mainly formal, but there's no need to cram in as much business speak as possible in a covering letter if the company don't talk that way to consumers.

And while we're talking about covering letters: put them in the body of the email, not as an attachment. Otherwise it looks like you've reused an old covering letter.

Is that it?

Pretty much. In our experience if you follow these simple pieces of advice you will be a breath of fresh air to the poor sod that's looking through all of these CVs!


  • James Seymour-Lock -

    I have to agree with everything listed, for a position in a creative or front end web position i would also subject injecting some of your creating style into your CV such as graphics, layouts and fonts, my CV is on a 960 grid ;-]

    A lot of web developers CVs dont tend to include much at all and rather a link to their portfolio website which would include everything a CV should have + real life examples of their work, from a business hiring perspective would you consider creativity and a portfolio website more over a CV?

  • Joe Holdcroft -


    I wouldn't say more, but it does show more character generally. But a CV can be good in ways to show exactly where you've worked (that's relevant). But personally I tend to almost ignore them. Though I doubt many other people do the same! For me it's all about the character and examples.

  • Richard Maynard -

    I couldn't agree more. When we are recruiting for IT folk it's a case of "attack of the acronyms". What makes it worse is most interviewees can't tell you what they stand for!

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