November 1, 2012

A few thoughts on CVs

We're definitely on the lookout for new people to work with us. Here are a few tips on what does and doesn't make a CV stand out for us - and we're fairly sure that these are mostly not just our personal likes, but are shared with a lot of practices.

So, for our thoughts in no particular order:

Covering letter. You already know this, but just to remind you - make sure you have looked at our work and have some idea of what we are interested in. Also, we'd like to know what you want to get out of working with us. What are your strengths and what are you looking to learn? Better to be honest if you haven't a clue how to draw a working detail, than pretend you know everything. Tom went to his first ever job interview (at Paxton Locher) and said straight out that he knew nothing about practising architecture - and despite what you think, this is probably the case for most Part 1 grads and a fair few Part 2s. He got the job, by the way, and a fantastic apprenticeship in the process.

Paper. We've realised we prefer CVs on paper. If you email us a PDF, we still print out the majority of them and if they come out wrong through some formatting or colour issue, they just go in the bin. So please, on paper with a brief CV, and a few pages of your work. And not too long - probably no more than 6 sides of paper in total. We don't want to read a book. (Of course some practices prefer email, always a good idea to ring up and check.)

Font size. Don't make your text too small - even captions. Text isn't there to make the layout work, it should communicate something: if it doesn't, leave it out, and if it does, make it readable. When you work in practice, you'll have to make presentation material for a variety of audiences and none of them want to have to squint. On a basic level it shows an ignorance of accessibility issues.  In the office, normally we use 9 or 10 pt for body text.

Layout. Make it clear and not overly fussy or conceptual. We want to understand your work and experience, not your mastery of complex tools in Illustrator or InDesign. Good layout skills are important, but spending too much time on a graphic 'concept' is usually at the expense of clarity.

Paper size. Don't go for something weird. A4 is popular for a reason - we won't lose it in a pile of flyers and brochures in the post, and we can file it easily.

Choice of work. Better to show a few projects properly - with images at a size that can be clearly understood by someone who knows nothing about your project, brief, unit tutors or whatever - than lots of similar projects that blend into one.

Location. We're not based in London - we're in the centre of Colchester, in walking distance of the train station. If you don't live nearby, make sure you know how to get to work!

Lastly, don't make the mistake that one recent applicant made, who sent an odd sized CV/portfolio in the post, and put the wrong postage on it. We therefore had to pay to receive it - not a good start.
Thanks and good luck!


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