A CV (or curriculum vitae) is similar to a resume, but longer and more in-depth. A resume is an at-a-glance outline of your skills and work experience, while a CV is typically two to three pages in length and details all of the projects that you have worked on and in what capacity. This information is crucial for employers to see, so if you want to pursue a career in visual effects you will need to have a CV.
The average recruiter will spend between 8 and 10 seconds looking over your CV, so it has to be clear and easy to read. This step-by-step guide will show you how to create a polished CV that will help you stand out among the dozens of other job-seeking hopefuls.
1. Contact Info. Put your name, address, email and website at the top. If you do not have a website but your reel is available online, include the URL. It may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that the phone number that you provide is permanent and will always be answered by either yourself or a clear and professional voicemail message.
2. Objective. This is very important. You may be qualified to perform more than one function at a studio, so employers need to know which position you are applying for. Be brief and specific. Unless you are applying for an internship, do not put anything here about gaining experience or strengthening your skills.
Objective: Organic Modeler.
3. Experience. List your relevant employment history (that means omit the summer job where you paced in front of Tastee Juice in a banana costume). Jobs should be listed in order, with your most recent first. As a general rule, do not go back further than seven years. Put the dates of employment on the left in full years (no months). List your job title first, then the company name and location. Take one to three sentences to briefly describe what you did. Mention any notable projects that you worked on for each company.
4. Education. List chronologically, with your most recent education first. Do not include high school education, but do include certificate programs. List your graduation year on the left (anticipated date of graduation 20-- is fine for current students), then the degree or certification, department and major. Below it, specify the institution name and location. Make note of any academic honors here.
5. Software. Detail the relevant software that you are prepared to use without any further instruction or supervision. Do not list any programs that you have only a passing familiarity with. It will severely damage your reputation if you get hired and do not have the skills that you claimed to. It is amazing how quickly word travels in the VFX industry; so make sure that if you say you can do something, you absolutely can. If you are experienced in any programming languages or uncommon operating systems, list them here. This section provides an opportunity to target your resume to specific companies. Do you research and find out what software and operating system they use. If you are skilled in the programs that they use, list them first.
6. Professional Memberships. The Visual Effects Society, SIGGRAPH, Eurographics, etc. Each membership that you have will help to demonstrate your commitment to the field. Many memberships have no requirements and can be purchased online for a nominal fee.
7. Projects. This list should be one or two pages in length. Detail the projects that you have worked on in the last ten years or so. Break them up into sections, such as film and video, commercial, shorts, etc. Beneath your projects, create an awards section and list any awards or recognition that you have received for your work. Note the year on the left, the name of the project, your position and the company. Nothing else. The key here is to make this page as clear and easy to read as possible. There should be absolutely no fluff. If you are a student or are looking for your first job in VFX and have no collaborative project work, omit this page.
2004 The Hamburger that Ate Texas Compositor (Frameblast VFX)
2005 Baby the Rabbit Lead Animator (Jiggles Inc.)
1. Do not use any acronyms, jargon or abbreviations. If you need to shorten a sentence, try to be more concise. Jargon is fine for the office, but peppering your CV with it comes across as unprofessional.
2. When you finish your CV, have two friends look at it. Make any changes needed and then save it. Go do something else and come back a few hours later. Take another look at it with fresh eyes.
3. Don’t get fancy with colored ink or paper. Employers will think you’re trying to distract them from a lack of content. Just use white 20-25lb paper and dazzle them with your potential instead.
4. Pay attention to font, structure and white space. When a recruiter first lays eyes on your CV, it should say to them that the candidate is organized and competent. Anything else and it is going in the bin.
5. It goes without saying that your CV needs to be utterly error free. Competition is fierce for jobs in the visual effects industry, and it is all about attention to detail. If your CV is sloppy, employers assume that your work will be too.