As we now live in a visual and digitally driven world, more and more employers prefer to receive creative CVs. These still contain vital biographical details such as your education, work experience and technical skills (see Creative CV Headings below) but also illustrate that you have the skills you will be required to utilise when you start work.
See our Creative CV Guide which includes guidance on what to include in each section of your CV.
You may need several versions of your CV depending on whether you are applying for work, pitching for a freelance commission, profiling your work at an exhibition/competition or approaching a bank/funding provider to support development of your work. Different employers will look for different skills dependent on the markets and client groups they work with.
Before you start making approaches for employment, work experience or freelance commissions, you will need to provide clear evidence of your creative ability but first get the content right before you consider layout and presentation. Peppering your CV with words such as ‘creative’, ‘innovative’, ‘unique’ and ‘passionate’ will not suffice! You need well-articulated, practical examples that prove you are these things.
As a result, creatives produce CVs that may have a very different style and format to those written by students seeking graduate roles in management and the professions. In general, creative CVs tend to be short and concise and one page.
Creatives adopt different headings to present their biographical information so the reader is made instantly aware of their specific skill set and experience. Typically, they will include a number of the following:
These headings are not rigid. Do not hesitate to create your own in order to highlight your abilities and special interests clearly.
Remember: Your CV must be a dynamic document. You need to keep adding your latest work and editing older details so that the content stays fresh. When compiling your CV, you are free to let your creativity and creative use of new technology come through. However, keep the content factual and to the point, and the layout attractive and easy to read.
The key part of a creative CV and notoriously difficult to write! Please note there are additional considerations for fine artists. Please refer to our guide ‘The Fine Artist’s CV’.
Personal statements (also known as designer’s or artist’s statements) are nearly always included in a creative CV. They are especially useful in situations where they are not accompanied by a covering letter. For example, handing out CVs in person at an event/exhibition or uploading to an online CV site.
The statement should be a concise (5-6 lines), straightforward and positive statement about your work. This ensures a prospective employer gets an immediate feel of the role/area of practice that you are interested in along with the potential you have for creative work in the immediate future.
Remember: They will always be far more interested in what you have to offer rather than in a personal wish list. It should also encourage them to click through to your online work and then return to the rest of your CV to view more details about you. A good profile will also show a glimpse of your personality and play to your strengths, e.g. if you are happiest working in certain types of situations, say so.
“I am a creative and enthusiastic designer, who enjoys both interior and exterior design, a reliable, conscientious and flexible team worker; I am well organised, confident and quick to learn.”
“Emma is a second year Fashion Design student at the Manchester School of Art. I have undertaken several internships within leading organisations. Emma is now looking to be in an environment where she is able to gain more knowledge and expertise in all processes concerned. Ideally, I would like to widen my skillset in terms of production as this would be beneficial to me for my final year at university.”
The mismatch of first and third person is confusing to the reader and almost sounds like a profile about different people. Moreover, the entire focus is on what they want to get out of the company. It lacks specific detail of the value the applicant could bring to the organisation despite implying they have relevant professional experience.
“A 2016 graduate of textile design from the Manchester School of Art, I specialise in knit. I am interested in creating experimental, unusual, specialised knitted fabrics for high-end women's wear. Specialising in knit has enabled me to experiment with a variety of techniques, knit machines and gauges exploring different looks and styles. I like to use a variety of interesting and exciting concepts within my work.”
“I am a final year landscape architecture student looking for a graduate role where I can work as part of a team to produce innovative designs which are in keeping with the local environment. My main interest lies in the remodelling and creative use of redundant or underused urban spaces. My final year project allowed me to exploit my particular interest in the use of native perennial planting and recycled materials, whilst gaining practical experience of the stages of the planning process alongside public consultation.”
You can go for any approach that demonstrates you have the relevant skills and knowledge for the job you are applying for. However, it is best to avoid highly quirky approaches that may come over as tacky or juvenile. Consider the purpose of your CV and who the recipient will be then do your research. This will help you to tailor your approach to align with an organisation’s culture and values as well as how to promote relevant skills and experiences.
In addition to providing links to your work online, you may choose to incorporate images of your work. However, feedback from employers tells us that depending on the role, images are often better attached as a separate pdf or accessed through a direct link to an online portfolio or website. If you’re applying for an advertised role, ask the recruiter what they’re looking for in terms of images.
You can use a variety of images including:
These visual elements can subsequently be adapted to build your personal brand, rather like a logo, appearing on your business card, portfolio, digital presentation, website etc.
New technology now provides immense scope for imaginative and novel approaches to CV design. If you are not sure how to start creating work for an online audience, useful articles can be found at:
You can draw inspiration from the many creative CV, portfolio and presentation sites offering templates online. For example, Dunked, Cargo Collective, SquareSpace and Portfolio Box. However, be aware that most employers in the creative industries say that they can see immediately where a template has been used and they do not like them. They look for profiles that clearly present your skills and qualities in a personalised way.
Templates can offer good starting points (for an example, see www.visualcv.com) but you are a creative. Be confident that you can illustrate yourself in your own unique way.
There are some fascinating examples online. You will quickly get an insight into some of the different approaches that you could take and how you can set out the evidence which sells your skills and talents effectively.
However, don’t let all these overwhelm you. Just dip in to get a few ideas and then start drafting what you want to say and evidence in your own style.
Attend the ‘Creative Applications’ and ‘Presenting Portfolios at Interview’ workshops offered by Careers and Employability every term. Details at www.mmu.ac.uk/careers/events.
Get one to one feedback on your draft CV through our faculty drop-ins.
See our Guide ‘Getting Work in the Creative Industries’ for more top tips on getting your applications for creative work noticed.
Useful tips can also be found in the CVs and applications sections at:
Also for students aiming for the digital industries:
Click here for some tips aimed at those applying to advertising (however, there is useful and practical advice for any creative CV).
We offer range of support services to Manchester Met students and graduates:
The online careers centre you can access 24/7 to view career resources, advice and tips, career quizzes and information tailored to your sector.
Get online advice through My Career Hub, ask your question at any time and receive support via email.
Book an appointment with one of our Careers Advisors through My Career Hub or call 0161 247 3483.