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.