How to present your CV

Enough annoyed twitter rants, I will be more productive and helpful.

This is for young and budding job hunters looking to stake their place in a creative field, whether it’s writing, design, advertising, broadcast media, or publishing.

As someone who is sometimes tasked with filtering and screening applications, I have seen graduates of top schools make really bad mistakes with their application. Here are some tips to get you through the mess.

1) Do the one-page CV

Unless otherwise noted. Employers are not looking for your life story, they’re looking at how capable you will be in the job. They are also ridiculously busy, so make it as easy as possible to go through. Note your work experience in the field you’re applying for, filter out irrelevant work experience (you can put that under ‘skills’ if you must). Highlight your awards and achievements. And don’t forget your contact details.

2) Get your portfolio together

Not too long ago, we had to kill entire forests with prints and reprints of our portfolio and CV. In this day and age, you have no excuse not to have a portfolio. Go online, open up a tumblr, wix, wordpress, or blogspot account. Learn to work it. You don’t have to be a celebrity blogger, but you should learn to archive and collate your best work.

Remember: for as long as you write and/or design, you will always be working on your portfolio. Set up your account, then make a commitment to update and fill it up with as much work as possible. If you do not have a portfolio, you will not be taken seriously.

For writers starting out: If you haven’t been published, put in your most readable work. It can be samples of concept ad copy, short poetry and fiction, blog entries, amateur reviews, script treatments.

For starting artists and designers: scan your drawings, put in whatever it is you expertly photoshopped, concept ads, photography.

I think this article best sums up how to put together your portfolio (even for writers), so make it your bible: 9 steps to a better portfolio.

Rule of thumb with portfolios: always show your best, and a range of what you can do for the position you’re applying for.

3) Even if you personally know who you’re directing your CV and portfolio to, have a short cover letter.

This applies to print and e-mail. Chances are, your friend or whoever will not be the one to screen you. Even your CEO uncle, aunt, or friend, will have to forward it to HR or an assistant. For a cover letter, Put in a short and sweet paragraph that states what position you’re applying for, your skillset and experience (if any), and contact details (contact number and e-mail will suffice).

And for the love of christ, please proofread anything you write. Forget what your parents say: first impressions do matter. So refresh the basic rules of English subject-verb agreement.

Know of any other ways that helped you nab a creative job? Share it in the comments.


Definition please: Iconic

There’s a lot of talk about that iconic ad. The ambitious ad man, even non-ad people I’ve encountered, dream of making that iconic ad. I’m a big believer in the creative variable, but I wonder if it’s possible to make iconic happen. By large, iconic seems more spontaneous than deliberate.

But what is an iconic ad? A lot of ads become memorable, but you can tick off the ads that defined the generation. The sodas, I feel, have mastered owning the time they aired. Most know “Coke is it?” as an 80s tagline, the same way Pepsi’s “Generation Next” situates the soda in the 90s, singing Spice Girls and all.

In the context of Philippine advertising, I personally consider these three ads as iconic:

-classic Seiko wallet (for lack of a video, sing it with me: “Seiko seiko wallet, ang wallet na maswerte…”)

-Beam toothpaste (“B-E-A-M means smile, smile kami pag beam!”)

-Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog’s “Carlo”

Two out of three of the above are more campy than classic ads. But it has somehow embedded itself into Filipino consciousness. Even my ubersheltered Tagalog-deficient sister can still recite the entirety of “Carlo” and it’s been almost 10 years.

My Mother was actually part of the agency (Lintas, now known as Lowe) that made the ad. I remember her ushering the family to the maid’s tiny TV screen during the Sunday variety show for the TVC’s premiere. This was not a usual Sunday for the family. Mom disliked local TV, and usually barred us from watching it.

As any Pinoy 90s kid can attest, “Carlo” stuck around for years after it first aired. It seemed as if no one else took a bite out of a juicy red hotdog, Purefoods or not, without remembering “Carlo”.

Did Mom know it would be a “defining” ad? I never had the chance to ask. Maybe I’ll find out through a different ad, who knows?

Then there’s the campy stuff. The timelessness of Seiko and Beam undoubtedly comes from the jingle. They weren’t much production and copy wise but it was sticky. Try it: I bet you can’t get those jingles out of your head just by mere mention of it.

Credit to Beam tho, “B-E-A-M means smile” is a ridiculously clever turn of phrase.

Does iconic just happen, or can it be made to happen? What do you think?

Also, what do you consider iconic ads?

(As I am also presently employed by an ad agency, this is the part where I assure readers that this entry is composed of my own personal views and does not reflect the views of my company and associates.)