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Getting Work In The Creative Industries - The Integrated CV Approach

You might find it surprising, but we regularly receive CV requests from people working in the creative industries. We’ve just recently, in the space of one week, advised a Film Director, a Music Producer and a client looking to break into Broadcast Journalism. When we talk about the creative industries it isn’t just film, music and radio. We also include fashion, advertising, art, publishing, software design, gaming and so forth.

The creative industries are all immensely competitive arenas when it comes to getting your foot in the door. It takes unswerving determination, ambition and unrelenting pursuit of your goals to make a successful career in these industries, even when you have extraordinary talent. Knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time helps a lot too.

If you aspire to work in these industries, pursuing your goals can become a full-time job which requires investment in terms of time, energy and money. You must be prepared to make sacrifices. Think of the archetypal starving artist, feverishly painting in a tiny attic studio and selling his work for the price of a new canvas and paint instead of food and rent!

I recently reviewed a complex CV from a Film Director that included long lists of film projects with links to film clips and videos on various websites, some of which wouldn’t play. Whilst a traditional CV is nearly always necessary, it is not an appropriate medium for showcasing your work and talent.

When you aspire to work in a creative role, you need to take a different approach; an integrated CV that utilises different platforms to present a whole picture is most effective. This will take some planning; it is going to take time and probably money, so you will need to also think about how long it is going to take to finance and plan accordingly.

If you are serious about your career, you will need to face the fact that some financial investment goes with the territory. I will keep banging on about this until it sinks in! I feel pretty sure you spend money on clothes for your image. Everything I will talk about here is an extension of your physical image. Remember, it will pay off eventually. You can take the DIY approach (except for subscriptions) but this is extremely time-consuming, so will delay progress, and still likely to incur some costs.

What might you need to pay for?

A professional photo of yourself

It is a must to have a professional photo instead of a casual snapshot or a selfie. You will be able to use it on many media platforms.

A showreel

This is essential for those working in film, television and the performing arts.

Professional photos of your work

If you are, say, a make-up artist or fashion designer you should have clear, well-lit photos to showcase examples of your work.


You may need to subscribe to be a member of professional listings and networking sites.

CV, Linkedin and Copy Writing

Writing persuasively and compellingly may not be one of your talents. It doesn’t always follow that because someone is amazing at writing songs or scripts, they have the knowledge or skills to write for other purposes.

Website Costs

Most people don’t have a clue how to set up and manage a website so will need to hire someone to do the work. Whilst several companies host simple websites for free, having your own domain looks professional and a premium site offers more features and storage.

Recordings or Videos

Even if you make these yourself, you will need to buy or hire some decent equipment to produce slick results (unless you are already in the business). If you can’t do this yourself or obtain clips featuring your work from other sources, you may have to hire professionals. Recordings and videos can be useful on numerous platforms. Some vacancies require you to attach audio or video clips as part of the application, so you should have examples at the ready.

This is not a comprehensive list of what you might have to shell out for. I'll say it again already - the money you spend on your integrated CV approach should be seen as an investment not an expense. In the long term it will return interest.

The 3 Basic Communication Channels for an Integrated CV

In a multimedia world the possibilities are almost endless. This creates a problem with choosing the best platforms for your industry and keeping it simple enough to stay on top of everything you have to do; the more channels you open, the more organised you have to be.

To communicate your fundamental work skills along with your talent to the right people, you can make a good start with these 3 basics - A traditional CV, a Linkedin account and your own website.

Traditional Text Based CV

Of course, this is my specialist subject, but I’ll try not to get carried away!

As I have already mentioned, this is not an appropriate medium for showcasing your work. However, your CV is an initial way to capture attention and direct interested parties to platforms where they can discover more about you and find examples of your work.

So, how do you capture attention? A well-written, professional CV presents an overview of your attributes, personal qualities, skills and experience within a work context. Even the most talented individual also needs practical and transferable skills. Marilyn Monroe was famously fired from her last film “Something’s Got To Give” for being “disruptive”. This proves that even mega-bucks-money-spinning A list Hollywood icons are eventually not tolerated when they negatively impact the working environment, working relationships and productivity. This is an extreme example, but it does illustrate that regardless of occupation and talent, fundamental skills and attitudes to work are the bottom line.

For the most part, your traditional CV should forget focusing on what you have done and instead focus on how you have done it. Think of when you have seen an actor talking about a film they’ve been in. They talk about how they got into character, how they worked with the director and co-stars and how they dealt with challenges. It’s all about the hows. How did you use your fundamental skills to achieve results?

This is the reason why a traditional CV is an important element of an integrated approach. Simply providing an example of work shows only the finished product and not the process.

Never be tempted to chance your luck with a fancy graphic CV. These are not "readable" for online application systems and the majority of employers loathe reading graphic CVs.

Your CV should be no longer than 2 pages and cover no more than the last 10 years or your 3 most recent projects/job roles. Save your entire work history for Linkedin where people will be expecting to find in-depth information. Add all your projects to professional listings and/or your website portfolio. Remember to include links to sites where examples of your work can be found.


Linkedin is pretty versatile. It is already organised into sections so you don't have to worry about structure; you can upload examples of work, get recommendations and have your skills endorsed by people who have worked with you. This all helps to create a rounded professional picture of you. However, Linkedin works best when you have lots of connections and regularly post content that others will find interesting and this is something you will have to work on.

When I review a CV, I will usually look for someone’s Linkedin profile to see how it marries with their CV and how up to date it is. Sadly, I see too many neglected, underused profiles with few connections. If you really, really want to further your career aspirations, get cracking with Linkedin.

Now, whilst I do advise and write for Linkedin, I am personally not a big fan and guilty of underusing it. However, my industry is nowhere near as competitive as the creative industries, so it matters less for me. As a creative, you should be exploiting all opportunities to show off your skills, talent and build your network. Focus on making connections with those who work in your industry and related fields. Like-minded people will have greater interest in what you have to say, so are more likely to share your posts which can grow your network of connections and build your reputation. Do this effectively and the work will come to you.

In the meantime, you will need to direct interested individuals to your Linkedin profile. You can do this through your CV and website. Before you start this, make sure your Linkedin profile is complete, interesting and up-to-date. It takes time to build connections, get recommendations and endorsements, so make this part of your plan and set aside time to do it.

Personal Website

Setting up a personal website CV is a great idea. There are several companies who offer a free package for a basic site. The drawback to a free site is that your site will bear the companies logo and domain name; there will also be limitations on storage and how many hours of video you are allowed to upload. Going premium and buying your own domain name is cheaper than you might think. You can get a premium site, your own domain and a dedicated email address for less that £100.

There is so much you can do with a website; basically, you can put everything on there. You can upload photos, videos, documents and more. You can set up links to all your social media, networking and professional channels. A website embodies the integrated approach, but you will still have to lead people to it. Again, you can do this through your CV, Linkedin and social, networking and professional media platforms.

Of course, this is all easier said than done! Building an attractive, professional website is immensely time consuming and an ongoing process. There is a lot to do. There’s getting to grips with the technicalities of setting up a site, organising the design and writing great copy for a start.

Creating a website is complex. While you are an amazing photographer, fashion designer etc. you may not be great at writing copy and if you are a fantastic writer you might be a rubbish designer. If you want to do the job properly or just save yourself a lot of time you might have to hire someone to help you and this is going to cost. Possibly hundreds.

What you always should keep in mind is that this is an investment rather than an expense. You would expect to pay to obtain a qualification to improve your career prospects and this is no different. You invest now and wait for the pay off.

Other Avenues and A Word of Caution!

Don’t forget to explore the possibilities of YouTube, Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts etc. to create engaging content for your website and to share on social and networking channels.

When creating content tread carefully. You are not just posting for your friends! Personally, I appreciate a bit of risky and controversial content, but that’s just me. Other people will have an entirely different opinion. Sure, controversial content can bring a lot of attention and while you are prepared to take risks, the organisations that could potentially employ you might not be so keen. They have their reputation to think about. Remember when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left voice messages live-on-air call to elderly actor Andrew Sachs (famous for playing Manuel in Fawlty Towers) ? That didn’t go down too well with the public or BBC bosses and they were both suspended. Luckily, they were already well-know enough for their careers to remain unaffected. There are always exceptions (such as if you are pursuing a career in Journalism) but generally steer away from anything likely to cause offence. You do not want to jeopardise your whole career.

Hopefully, with this brief overview, you can see how different communication methods work in synergy to produce an integrated CV that has something for everyone.

For a free, comprehensive CV review you can upload your CV here

Alternatively, you can email it directly to



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