CV Tips

I think it’s fair to say that every industry has a preferred CV format. It’s the same with TV – but I’m sure that many of my friends who work in the Civil Service, for example, would baulk at how my CV is laid out, and I at theirs! But when the average employer spends 30 seconds looking at each CV, you need to make sure yours is one that grabs their attention, that tells them everything they need to know about you at one quick glance.

One genuine moment that changed my life was when a talent manager at the BBC gave my CV a brutal makeover. After that, I appeared far more professional – and felt it, too! So here are a few do and don’ts of how to write a ‘TV CV’:

  • DO put your name at the top. In big letters. So people can easily see whose CV they’re reading
  • DON’T put your picture on. It’s not your social media profile, and anyway this helps to prevent unconscious bias
  • DO put your industry level – and make it appropriate for the job that you’re applying for. So don’t put Sam Jones – Producer, if you’re applying for a Researcher job!
  • DO put a little mission statement – but only if it’s a good one. A bad mission statement is worse than no mission statement at all. This should just be a couple of sentences that’s like a trailer for your CV – highlighting your best credits and top skills. Maybe try asking a friend to write it for you – they may highlight things about you that you might have missed! You can then use this mission statement across other professional platforms, like LinkedIn and the Talent Manager
  • DO put your contact details – email address, website and phone number are fine
  • DON’T put your address. It might genuinely cost you a job, if for example you’re applying for something in south-west London but live in north London. That’s an hour-and-a-half commute, and a kindly production manager may well try to save you the trouble by rejecting your application
  • DO put your skills in a list or table right at the top of your CV. This can include things like self-shooting, editing programmes you can work with, a clean driving license, training courses you’ve been on etc
  • DO head up each credit with a straightforward top line: COMPANY, Production, Role, Date.
  • DO mention who you worked with on each production, or put them as references after your top line. Your potential employer will call them up if they know them and ask what you were like to work with. So logically –
  • DON’T put down anyone on your CV with whom you didn’t have a good professional relationship. If your potential employer knows them, they’ll ring them – and that person may not give the best recommendation for you
  • DON’T put your references at the end of your CV. Your potential employer probably won’t read all the way to the end
  • DON’T put every exam you’ve ever taken as your qualifications. No one cares whether or not you did Ceramics GCSE – unless it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, in which case put it in your cover letter
  • DO save a copy as a pdf, to prevent the formatting from going weird on different operating systems

Your CV should enable employers to IDENTIFY, VERIFY and CONTACT you. Anything superfluous to that and it starts to become your life story – and that’s called an autobiography!

CV Tips

Here I stand

I started lucky. My many student holiday jobs as an unpaid runner meant that I managed to get myself a position as a Junior Researcher on Mary Beard’s new series, Meet the Roman Empire, straight after Finals. Well, Junior Researcher was a bit of a misnomer – I was their only researcher. It was pretty cool, and pretty steady work for nearly three months.

And then my contract ended. Despite promises of working on other programmes with the same company, either the budget or the circumstances fell through. So I got myself an internship with ITN, and an internship with Bettany Hughes, another Classics presenter.

Then ITN announced at the end of my internship that they didn’t actually have a researcher position. So I got a pub job. Or two. It just about paid the rent; the tips paid for my food.

Then I went to a free launch night of a women’s film festival and made a friend. She got me a day’s runner work, which was amazing, and after a month of pub work, made me remember exactly why and how much I love TV!

But that was just one day. Then I got my friend a stand up gig, and while I was there supporting him, I met a guy who worked for a comedy production company. I got another internship. Still unpaid. Still juggling pub work alongside it.

So you meet me now, pretty skint, working two pub jobs, having applied for jobs in TV every day for several months. A CV that’s covered in As and A*s, a long list of qualifications and work experience placements, links to documentaries and films I’ve made. To be honest, it really couldn’t be much shinier. But apparently ‘this is how TV works’.

Yeah, it’s an unforgiving industry, based almost solely in a city that is very unforgiving: expensive, busy, and sometimes dangerous. No one goes into TV for the money or the stability. But as long as we remember why we started working in it, we remember why it’s all worth it.

So this blog is going to track my journey into telly: the good, the bad and the life that goes with it. Why? Maybe to tell the truth behind the glamour, maybe to fill the creative need that pulling pints can’t quite fulfil.

Here I stand