Everyone has an opinion about CVs. Often, everyone has a DIFFERENT opinion about CVs. So you need to know from the start, whatever you choose to do when it comes to writing your CV, you can’t please everyone. That’s just the way it is.
I’m going to list out some things that I think are important when writing your CV, some basic ideas and guidelines. I would however, recommend that you have a look at some other sites that offer CV advice, so you can decide on a style and layout that is going to work for you, and ultimately, show your personality.
Most important things to cover in your CV
Main areas you need to cover
- Introduction/Profile – Give a brief introduction to yourself, what kind of person you are, and what kind of work you are looking for. How you approach your work, and a few of your best work related qualities.
- Education – Outline your education history, achievements and grades. I wouldn’t say its necessary to go back to GCSEs but its up to you. Also, any achievements at university. I always think its best to work in chronological order, starting with the most recent, the same for experience.
- Experience – Outline your work experience with dates and details (company name, location), duties, achievements, responsibilities. This can be tough if you haven’t had much experience. A good one is any student representative work you may have done, or any tasks where you have had responsibility. Try to avoid gaps in your dates, as people may wonder what you’ve been up to.
- Skills – As an architecture student I think its really important to list out your skills in a separate area. (See examples below). This looks really good for potential employers as they can see straight away all the software you can use, and imagine you slotting straight into their office. Don’t put in Microsoft Word/Excel, you are expected to be able to use that.
- Interests – This is a controversial one. I always think it’s nice to include your interests…if they are interesting! If you are going to write watching TV, going to the pub, then don’t bother. If you play sports, captain a team, were in societies at uni, or are a keen musician it will give the potential employer a flavour of you as a person.
Don’t be afraid to have different versions of your CV depending on where you are sending it, or for what job you are applying for. There is nothing wrong with tailoring your CV to each job application, it takes a bit of time but can be well worth the effort. I would suggest that if you are applying for a specific job, particularly with a large company that has an HR department, to send out a formal CV with an attached portfolio booklet. Whereas if you are sending out a speculative application, send out one document – your CV, which includes some images as a flavour of your work.
Make sure it is crystal clear
If your CV is difficult to read, poor print quality, a jumbled mess, it will go straight in the bin. First impressions are made very quickly, so you want the first impression of your CV to be that it is written by someone who is organised and clear. Use a clear font, readable font size, and don’t be afraid to use bullet points so that employers can scan quickly through your CV to find the information they are looking for.
Another tricky one that is debated often. To add images or not? We were really pushed to add images to our CV at my uni. However, since then I have come across people that send out a formal, plain CV with an attached portfolio booklet, which can be quite effective. I particularly like it when they stick to a theme between the two and have given themselves a unique branding. (More on that in other posts). I guess its up to you to decide, see below for examples.
Make sure you state somewhere that references are available on request. If you don’t have a vast employment history ask one of your tutors if they wouldn’t mind being a reference for you.
Make sure your CV is two pages, ie two one sided A4 pages. Anymore than two, your potential employer will get bored, less than two, they may be concerned you don’t have much to offer. If you need to you can pad out with images, but don’t make that too obvious.
Most important things to AVOID on your CV
This is so obvious but it happens all the time! You may have trouble with spelling, that’s fine. Get someone to check it for you, and someone else to double check it. Spelling mistakes on a CV give a very bad first impression, and they are easily avoided. Make sure they don’t creep into your CV.
Stupid email addresses
It may have been cool/funny at school to have a ‘crazy’ email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It may provide a laugh for the HR department, but it will not provide you with an interview. If necessary, create a new email address for formal emails, which is essentially your name, use middle initials or a few numbers – NO stupid nicknames!
It is very frustrating reading through a CV that has information missing. Make sure you put in all the relevant details about your education, grades and importantly dates. Another common mistake is not providing full contact information including address, telephone number and email. Try to provide all of these things as different employers like to contact potential employees in different ways, so don’t make it difficult for them.
Inconsistent text and formatting
For an architecture student, this is inexcusable. Make sure your formatting is consistent, size, font and layout should flow over the page/s. It looks terrible if you flick from one font to another, or have random font sizes that are clearly not intentional.
CV Examples to give you a few ideas
Having google image searched for Architectural CV Examples (I’m sure you’ve done the same), there isn’t much to inspire you on there. I have put together a board on Pinterest, which has got some inspiring stuff on it so check it out here!CV ideas on Pinterest
Check out some of the upcoming posts on branding, and how to sell yourself, as you can apply these tips to CV writing also. Although there are some basic CV templates on Word or Pages they do tend to be very formal and standard, so the ideas on Pinterest show that you can push the boundaries and come up with something a little different with not much effort. Some people have done some pretty cool stuff to try and stand out, but be careful not to overdo it. Probably the most difficult thing to do but, try and find a balance.
And for the Ultimate Guide To Getting a Job In Architecture, check out our ebook which gives you all the information you need to help you get a job in architecture.Ultimate Guide – Click Here
This was a bit of a monster post, so well done if you made it to to the end! Check out other posts coming up in this section – how to market yourself, interview advice and portfolio guide.