A well-structured CV is a vital component of your job application when you're pursuing a career in the visual effects, animation, or gaming industry. It should not only highlight your relevant skills and experiences but also showcase your unique personality. In this article, we'll discuss the essential components of a successful CV for newcomers in these industries, guiding you through the process of creating an attention-grabbing CV that sets you apart from the competition.
Get the CV template here.
Header and Footer
Your CV's header and footer should be clean and straightforward, containing only essential information.
📞 Contact information: name, email, phone
🔢 Page number (if multiple pages)
The contact information are important since they appear on every page to make sure contacting you is as easy and accessible as possible. Additionally you could add at least one important link like your home or LinkedIn page if it improves your visibility.
The title section serves as your introduction, providing key personal and professional details.
📞 Contact information
🌍 City, country
📸 Profile picture
This is our official introduction so repetition to the header can occur. Furthermore we can use this part to add additional links to our profile. Providing an address is especially on a more remote application not as important but it can play a vital role for freelancers. Living in the same city or country nearby to your future employer also means you can start early and don't need as much time and effort to travel and adapt.
"Putting my phone number on the resume is actually a way to get hired ... by the time they replied to their email we hired someone else." - Allan McKay, 21 Artist Show
A must-have in every CV is a profile picture. From a psychological point of view it adds a human aspect to the argument since now you insert a face to the cold hard numbers and facts. This human aspect can lead to a better chance or at least a more thorough investigation of your application since you are a person now who deserves minimum effort.
For this your profile picture has to be decent enough to reflect a character and quality:
profile picture (of your face)
noise free quality
positive lighting and colors (look healthy)
positive/neutral expression (no sad or serious face this is not a passport)
Which means you should avoid using your
fun profiles (from Facebook)
passport picture (looking like a rock)
too business (depends on your field but ...)
Profile Picture in the US: In countries like the U.S. it is discouraged to add a profile picture. The reason is to avoid bias (gender, ethnic, ...). Being bias is not the problem, we are all bias. The problem is living in a society that creates a negative bias. Still I believe that the profile picture is something that generally puts more personality on your CV but you have to adjust to your surrounding standards.
"The CV is used as more of a sense check on someone’s background and experience but also as a way to find out a little bit more about who they are as a person and what their interests are." - Amy Smith (Framestore)
Our experiences are the bread and butter of our CV. They are the main reason why we are getting hired since they answer one of the two biggest questions every recruiter has:
"Can he do the job?"
The experience section (including education) shows an indication to an answer with
"Since I worked on similar tasks in the past - Yes!"
It is that simple. Focusing on answering exactly this question has the highest priority. This means it is not about what you know your experiences are but what others think your experiences are. Most of us bump into the problem eventually of not being able to reflect on what we really can do with our official statements. Maybe you know your craft but how can you show and prove it when you only worked on friends or student projects while the only accountability is a company name.
Of course it can only show what exists which creates a second problem for most, especially pupils and students: Not having enough to fill in the blanks. A desperate attempt is often to put as much content as possible.
Working at McDonalds? Sure!
A Janitor at a local school - Better than nothing!
Anything can show you're a working person but applying for an accountant position where people trust you know how to handle money can create a disarray. The image of someone holding money doesn't fit with a fast food employer. Better to put in social activities instead which reflect a sense of community. The moment you can't show experience you have to show passion and skill which are best in your cover letter and Showreel.
The only two ways to counter that actively is either specifically search for more experiences and get hired in your aimed position in whatever circumstances or accept the fact and balance it out through the portfolio, cover letter and persistence.
The most important information you need to share with your experience are
📅 Date & duration
📍 Country & city
A short employment can also lead to questions of why during the interview. (Happened to me once.) Some companies will value you being loyal and work for longer others just want to see the years in the industry. A junior and senior status are often measured by the time you are working in your profession independently of your real skills and values. Again it is all about perception and not reality since you can not show others what is in your head you can only hint to it with every part of your application.
Experience should ALWAYS be stated before education. As long as you apply for a job, it is your job experience that are relevant not your educational experiences. Someone who is hiring you want to know if you understand how it is to work under pressure, as a service and adapting to new challenges daily which is the reality of work.
Always show you newest work first and your oldest last. The simple reason is that your newest company, position or project are mostly higher valued and you want to "Wow!" the recruiter as much as possible on the first point. I mention this only because I saw it flipped occasionally.
Experience can also be projects where you go into detail about this amazing movie and software with all the challenges and tools you used to complete it. Nevertheless work experience always tops pure project experience.
After our work experience we add our education. Education has a different importance depending on the position and industry. A 3D artist learning everything on YouTube is mostly fine should he have a strong reel but applying as a software developer without university background can become tricky since it still reflects of having a base and background theory. Practice beats theory every time until the point of complexity is introduced. Of course this field is shifting and online courses start to replace the traditional universities. Having a degree in Animation Mentor means more for an Animator than any usual university degree. Nevertheless having a theoretical understanding of your craft will always beat raw practice and be seen as higher valued especially for promotions.
⏳ Date & duration
📍 Country & city
🎓 Degree & grades
📖 Projects/thesis (if applicable)
Some schools are more important than others while having a major with a good grade in your applied field shows intent. Also mentioning industry related projects and thesis can be a plus.
Now you have shown experience. But what do you really know? Stating to worked there, on this, in this position is powerful but still don't paint the whole picture. What is missing and especially important to "start working" is if you know what is needed at the job you are applying. Software knowledge is becoming an integral part of our work life. While ten years ago people were stating Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint this is given today. (After teaching people how to use Trello maybe not rightfully so.) 2019 searches for the high performing skills and specialized software packages like Maya and Houdini, it looks for the scripting and programming languages like C++ and Python and the understanding of current workflow models and everything else needed for your job.
💻 Software: Maya, Houdini, etc.
🖥️ Scripting/programming languages: C++, Python, etc.
🔄 Workflows: waterfall model, etc.
Anything else is free for your own creativity. Adding hints to your ambition, social core or variate while still keeping the topic focused. A PR person with online publications or public speaking events or a graduated 3D artist winning The Rookies award and being shown in at events are a catch.
Like with the experiences you cannot add what is not there but on the flip side you cannot win an award if you don't apply for some, publish something, work on a project or be recognized if you are not out there and show what you've got. Be creative and show background with
🤝 Social Work
In our interview Amy (Head of Talent at Framestore) mentioned that interests or hobbies shouldn't be understated since they 'give a sense of this person' and can lead to interesting questions during the interview. Of course only if there are interesting hobbies to ask about. Even though the CV is more of a cold sheet of facts hobbies can add personality to the mix but only if they reflect that.
In the "everyone does that" category I would put
The "more advanced category" is a taste of being more precise
And the "What is this?" category is
Be creative and not too restrictive and boring on this. If you like to go to Anime Conventions - why not?! Maybe there is also a fan on the opposite side of the table. There is nothing more powerful in social relations and also in the hiring process than the feeling of coming from the same group. Use this chance to express yourself just not to a degree of being controversial.
Resume (pun intended)
A well-organized, tailored CV is the best way to showcase your experience and prove your ability to excel in the visual effects, animation, or gaming job you're applying for. While your CV provides an overview of your past experience, your portfolio or showreel demonstrates your creative capabilities. Meanwhile, your cover letter allows you to express your personality and passion for the job.
Subscribe to the newsletter to access the CV template for a successful application. For a personalized coaching on crafting the perfect job application in the Visual Effects, Animation and Games industry, see my Job Application Coaching.
Happy job hunting,
About the Author
I'm Alexander, an Award-Winning Technical Director & Coach in Visual Effects, Animation and Games. My skills are solving technical problems, simplifying workflows and mentoring career goals.