Whether you're applying for jobs, or presenting at a conference, if you don't know why you should be considered or heard over someone else, don't bother with it. This is the harsh guideline that will motivate you to do what others may not, and make you that exceptional candidate.
When applying for a job, ask yourself what crucial factor separates you from the hundreds of other applicants? What is that one skill that you have to show off?
Use this skill to design your CV and make it so evident that employers cannot afford to ignore it. Start by asking yourselves the following questions of your current CV:
- What do the colours represent?
- Why is it this shape instead of.......?
- What message does the layout send?
- How do the images add to your message?
- Is the design effective, does it guide the reader to where you want? Or is it too confusing?
Design your logo and make sure it's unique to you. This can be as simple as your name in a specific font, however, conduct research on different fonts and explore which ones best convey your personality, whether that be strong and corporate, or creative and flexible, or corporate and flexible for that matter. Whatever it is, find yours.
The semiotics behind design is psychological, and a relatively subconscious matter. When thinking about the layout of your CV, you may think the inclusion of a certain line or colour makes your CV look pretty and more noticeable, stop right here. Unless this certain line or colour represents something you want the employers to notice about you, do not include it. Remember, your CV is a pitch, it's all the employers have to go on for you to either "make it or break it". Make every space and every word count.
When deciding upon a content layout, do your research about the company you're applying for. Understand the job role and what they're looking for. Prioritise your sections, if a certain skill is more desirable to the specific job role, put it at the top of the list. If another skill is not as relevant, but it at the bottom of the list, or consider taking it out for the specific application. Additionally, if you're applying for varying roles, make sure your CV addresses each role individually. It may be a good idea to create a few versions of your CV, each specific to a certain job role in terms of content and layout.
If possible, keep the CV to a single side, and use the other side as a portfolio pitch. Display your best creative work on the back side, so that employers have instant evidence of your skills. This can have a positive or negative effect, as creative work is highly subjective. So again, only if it's something you want to represent about yourself and show off, include it.
Once a certain 'theme' or 'logo' has been created for yourself, use this across all your professional material:
- Covering Letter
- Business Card
- And any other material relevant to your application.
The research behind the self-branding will be evident, and this is one of the key differences that will set you apart from other candidates. If there is a certain brand or company you aspire to work for, match their brand values against yours, and include these in your 'visual message'. The effort will show.
If you're struggling with where to begin, look up people in the industry you admire, and aspire to be like in 'x' amount of years. Analyse their journey, and see where you fit in, or would like to. If you're wanting to go the extra mile, contact them! That one piece of advice may kick-start your career like it did theirs.
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