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.


For the love of theater: Happiness and Blood

Lots of change in the air. I got back in the swing of production with Sipat Lawin Ensemble‘s Battalia Royale, and managed to catch 9works Theatrical‘s’ You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

I. “Happiness Is” – 9 Works Theatrical’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

For those who followed the Charles M. Schultz Peanuts serial, with kids you want to pull away from screens, do catch You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It’s an entertaining and thoughtful show, made of children’s thoughts on childhood, happiness, and a dash of “philosophy”. As someone raised on the Peanuts holiday specials, it was just the break I needed from the humdrum of work. As an adult, it’s easy to lose sight on what it means to be ‘happy’. You could see that the cast had fun with it, and the fun is contagious.

To see just what I mean, here’s that classic clip of Kristin Chenoweth’s “My New Philosophy” with the bows version of “Happiness” from the Tony Awards 2000. Promise, the Philippine cast is just as good.

You can still catch the last few shows this weekend – March 2-8pm, March 3-330pm & 8pm. Call 557-5860, 586-7105, 0917-554-5560, or email

II. “A Sacred Space for Violence” – Sipat Lawin Ensemble’s Battalia Royale

It was through hell and high water that I made time to help with Sipat Lawin Ensemble’s Battalia Royale. It has been worth it.

Inspired by the Japanese cult series, “Battle Royale”, the story follows a batch of hijacked high school kids then made to fight each other to the death in a deadly game. Only one survives and “wins” the game.

The impact on the Philippine audience was an afterthought – even amidst largely conservative views on sex and violence. While I knew that it would gain a “following”, I did not expect a craze, a clamor for the show. As of writing, tickets for the March run have sold out. I remain amazed, even shocked, at the demand.

In the performance, several scenes play out to accommodate a 40+ member cast. As a crew member I found the show in the audience.

It was the last show during it’s CCP run that I caught part of a phone conversation from one audience member, “You have to come over here!” He was urging in Tagalog, “They’re shooting each other! They’re dying! They’re making out! It’s bad-ass, man! SO BAD ASS!”

The show brings out the little monsters in all of us. On the last night of its CCP run, it seemed like one big monster was made out of the 900+ or so people who came out to watch. They even voted to kill off one student during halftime (on the first two shows, that student was spared), and gleefully clapped as he fell to the floor.

But there is no prize at stake, just the show.

Also consider: the student most popularly rooted for is Kakai, who lies and seduces her way to survival. In the confines of classrooms, offices, any group of friends, a Kakai-type would be “ahas” – a snake. A manipulative slut who stops at nothing to get what she wants. But in this game, she’s considered cool, a hero.

So why the craze? I suspect, in a society where it’s all the more important to represent the good and proper, this is the only show where you can let your demons out. After all, the blood is fake. The deaths only last for as long as the show. It’s become sacred space to let it out, without any judgement.

Rage becomes the best weapon in this game. It can make something as basic as a bag of marbles into an instrument of murder. In the end, it’s what saves even the most peaceful and pacifist.

The show isn’t for the lighthearted. Watch if you dare.

For more information on Battalia Royale, check out their facebook.

miiEtiquette: Play Nice, It’s Not Your Party

To my dear guests,

You are cordially invited to my totally awesome Christmas party. I promise you it will be epic: fire dancers, Cirque du Soleil, Michael Jackson rising out of the grave, with a 5-star Michelin buffet. The party I have in mind will be the stuff of rap videos. And I want all of you, people I consider my friends, to be there. We will have fun, sober or not.

I only have one condition: leave your baggage at the door.

I don’t mean your bags. I also mean the baggage you have inside you. Because my guest list includes your ex something, or the person you find annoying, maybe even your distant cousin from your Dad’s third family or something. They are not on my list to spite you. They are on my list because I find them fun. Look, there’s room enough for warring parties to do their high school thing and form cliques. Heck, just for that night, fake being nice. Ignore them even. But don’t ruin it for the rest of us by dragging your dislike and hatred through my front door.

I am your host. I am there to make sure you have fun. You are a guest at my party and it is your responsibility to have fun and stay clear of those who ruin it for you. Or hey, there’s the door.

I’ll be blunt: it’s not my problem if you had a one-night stand with so-and-so who happens to be there. It is not my problem if you don’t like whoever for whatever reason. So don’t make it my problem by picking a fight and putting out my fire dancers while toppling over my 5-star buffet. That’s when I get pissed. And I don’t want to be pissed on Christmas.

Remember the wise words of Marshall from How I met your mother, “It’s only awkward if you make it.”

So don’t make it awkward. Make it fun. Or you’re going to miss one hell of a party.