Writing a CV (resume) for a web design job isn’t too dissimilar to writing a CV for any other job. So don’t try to be too clever.
As my last function as Web Coordinator for JJB Sports, I was asked (along with a colleague) to find a new web designer. Some of the CVs I received were truly awful so I’ve summarised some of the biggest mistakes people made in the hope less people will make the same errors.
Note: People looking for my CV will find it here.
1. Don’t try to be too creative
A CV should be 1-2 white pieces of paper with black text. That’s all. It’s your job to use the right font and to layout the CV in such a way that you cram-in as much information without making it seem cramped.
We got CVs that were covered in pictures, literally covering the text so it couldn’t be read. CV’s that were only a page long with virtually no writing on them surrounded by a wonky 1px border.
2. Don’t (for God’s sake) put your exam results on your CV
If you have a degree; state where you went, what you did and the times your were there. If you just have A-levels state how many, maybe what they were in e.g. English, Chemistry, etc and once again; the time and where you did them. Same goes for GCSEs. Whatever you do don’t put on your CV what you achieved.
I saw lots of CVs where people started with their personal details then followed on with half a page of GCSE results including some A grades and some D grades.
Firstly, I don’t care if you did GCSEs or never went to school, I just want to know if you can make websites. Secondly, if I see that you got a poor grade in a subject I immediately think you might be a bit, well, thick. Whereas, a guy you went to school with, who got 5 Fs and nothing else, may sail through the CV sieve because he simply stated that he had 5 GCSEs.
The same goes for good grades. If you state that you have a 1st degree, some companies may think you’ll cost too much money and if you say you got a 2:1 they may wonder ‘Why didn’t they get a 1st?‘
3. Only put relevant information
I want to see people who have a passion for web design so cram your CV and/or covering letter with proof that you love web design. Don’t just tell me that you work in a shop and hope you’ll be able to express your web design passion in the interview because you won’t get an interview.
Tell me why you like it; and if you have no experience, tell me what it was at school/college/uni that inspired you to go into this field. Tell me what you like to do in your spare time – if it relates to web design then that’s a bonus.
4. Provide examples
If your CV isn’t great, you should have a blog or a portfolio site containing proof that you know what you are doing. If it’s a blog, don’t have it filled with myspace-style crap about your cats. If your CV is good and your portfolio is good you might have got the job before you even walk into the interview.
5. Provide a covering letter
Don’t just send an email with your CV attached with a message like ‘Here’s my CV’. This is your chance to sell yourself so don’t waste the opportunity. Your covering letter is your chance to reiterate everything in your CV and provide extra information about yourself. So, make sure the person reading the application knows why you are the best candidate for this job.
Before the interviews have started, (I suspect most) interviewers have already picked who they think will get the job therefore, it is imperative you give them a good CV, covering letter and portfolio.
It’s worth pointing out that you can change the interviewer’s mind at interview. If you perform badly you may go from favourite to no-chancer and if you perform well, you may go from outsider to favourite quite easily.
This post first appeared on the 25th September 2006.