With so many people out of work, the one thing that IS getting some attention is the humble CV. We imagine (like most people) you’ve had the same layout since your second runner job and been adding credit on top of credit. Maybe you’re now regarding it with dread realising it needs a complete overhaul, or at least a zhuszh (confirmed spelling). Where to start? Is it really selling you and your skillset as well as it should?
Now we should say, CV appraisal is incredibly subjective, and in this industry if you find yourself on the wrong side of that fine line between being too jazz hands on paper and too corporate / Times New Roman dull, it can genuinely cost you an interview. Frustrating and unfair though that may sound. SO these are our opinions, take or leave them.
Here’s Talented People’s top 10 CV do’s and don’ts…
1) It sounds obvious but… State your name, title and contact details clearly at the top – not in the Header or Footer (which are not usually searchable in databases and can appear greyed out and difficult to read). Change your margins to ‘Narrow’ to buy yourself some extra space if you’re struggling.
2) You can include more than one role as your title – use any role you would consider working as, not just your latest. This way you can be found easily and it’s obvious you’re still up for doing that i.e.
Producer/Director| Edit Producer
email@example.com | 07777 123456
Senior Researcher | Assistant Producer
firstname.lastname@example.org | 07777 123456
3) Clearly and plainly outline your skillset (negotiating access / PMI / self-shooting) as well as genres you work in (Factual Entertainment / Studio / Documentary) to be picked up on searches.
4) Keep your experience in chronological order – production companies like to see your most recent projects first, and your career progression. CVs with credits grouped together by genre can be misleading and harder to read.
5) If you do have a very mixed CV and broad range of experience, you could keep two versions of your CV. If you have digital and shortform experience as well as mainstream TV for example, and are sending to a non-TV client, send the CV with more of an ad agency approach and keep to a list of shortform / online credits. It’s just that us telly lot don’t warm to the ‘list’ approach.
6) Dates. Don’t be paranoid about gaps – honestly, companies are not bothered by a few months missing here and there. But if you don’t state your roles by the month ie Apr 19 – Dec 19, it’s impossible to see if you were the lead PD across a whole series for months, or did a one day pick up shoot.
7) On that note, be transparent. Anything vague or unclear throws up questions which can move an employers’ attention along to the next option. If it was a one day pick up shoot, that’s cool – state it.
8) If you want to add some personality your CV, go ahead. But keep it clean and professional – add a dash of subtle colour in an organised way ie all role titles, or just your name at the top. No to big logos and multiple colours throughout, it’s not easy on the eye! The most important thing is that your CV is clearly and neatly formatted so it’s easy to scan read and get a sense of who you are.
9) What did you actually do on the projects you list? Don’t fall into the trap of writing ‘Role – Title: What the programme was about (it’s usually obvious from the title) and nothing more. Think tangible achievements and skills you demonstrated – did you cast 18 contributors in 1 month? Did you shoot actuality in a hostile environment? Did you direct presenters? Etc. ‘I was a Researcher on The Repair Shop’ is not enough to show off what you can do. For example:
Producer/Director – Gogglebox, Apr 19 – Dec 19
Well-loved hit format where the popular cast critique what’s been on TV this week.
Producer/Director – Gogglebox, Apr 19 – Dec 19
Researched and produced content for contributors to watch and co-ordinated clearance of more than 50 shows. On location directing cast, and edit produced 4 eps. My first ep made the commissioner emotional!
10) Double, triple, quadruple check for spelling and grammar errors. Use spellcheck, an app like Grammarly for anything more wordy, or ask a friend to proof read if it’s not your strong point. It’s amazing how many CVs come with typos in the titles of programmes or roles (now checking this post over several times!).
In summary, have a clear format, spell out your experience and make your words work hard for the space they’re taking up. TV CVs are reviewed and judged insanely quickly, so make yours tells as clear a story about you as the ones you’d like to be telling on screen.
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