Interior design CVs are no different to any other. They are your opportunity to get your key, relevant skills across to a prospective employer as concisely as possible. But what do you include? How much detail do you go into? What will make you stand out from all the other applicants? We asked interior design recruitment expert Lucy Painter for the lowdown.
Creating the Best Interior Design CV
Creating a CV without tons of experience can be tricky. What do you include and what do you leave out? What skills and experience are relevant? Watch as Lucy Painter gives you her top tips for success or read the blog below.
What should I include on my CV?
Your CV should start with your profile – who you are, what you are all about and what skills you have. This should be a brief overview. Ideally no more than 100 words which summarise the detail you go into later. It can often be easier to complete your profile once you have compiled the rest of your CV. Pick out your strengths and make your passion for the interior design industry clear.
Make sure that you tailor your profile section to the company or job you are applying for. If they have asked for someone who is confident in expressing ideas, with strong hand sketching skills in the job description, make sure you add these into your short bio at the top of your CV. Be careful not to repeat their job listing back to them – say that you’re confident expressing ideas verbally and visually, through hand sketching and digital media.
The Skills Section:
Most people reading an interior designer’s CV will skim-read. Chances are they will already have seen your portfolio so you’ll need to communicate clearly and concisely so that someone can pick out your key skills by just scanning through your CV.
Start with your strengths. Whether that’s sketching, 3D work, research, management. If you don’t have a lot, or any experience in interior design outside of your qualification. draw on your strengths from previous jobs or general life. If you’re an organisational whizz who runs your family life like clockwork, this can translate well into a project management role.
You can either bullet point your skills or write a short paragraph. Remember, your CV shouldn’t run to more than two single-sided pages of A4 so if you have a lot of skills to share pick out your strengths. If you’re short on skills, consider studying a top-up qualification or short course to fill in any gaps and say here what you’re studying.
This can be a difficult section to complete when you’re just starting out. Detail any industry experience you’ve gained no matter how small your involvement in the project. You may have only completed projects for yourself, family or friends, but this is still highly relevant. You don’t have to say the work was unpaid or for people you know.
Freelancing can be a great way to gain experience quickly. There are lots of freelancing sites out there. Popular sites include Fiverr, Freelancer or try advertising your services on Houzz.
NDA graduate Mackenzie Morrison started by advertising her services for free, then £50 per room, until she had enough experience to build a strong portfolio of real-world work. Her interior design business is now thriving!
This section is super important. Digital design skills are a key part of an interior designer’s job. Not all roles will require you to be fully proficient in AutoCAD or SketchUp but you’ll at least want to know your way around the Adobe Suite, specifically Photoshop. We’re filling the NDA SkillsLab with video tutorials to help you learn some key industry skills. Our digital skills section starts with Adobe Photoshop for Beginners.
There are lots of courses out there to help you upskill. Start with short You Tube tutorials. Quite often, the software manufacturers have their own courses or handy beginner’s guides.
You’ll also want to include non-design specific software. Microsoft packages, project management software, scheduling tools – anything you’ve used which may be relevant to the role you’re applying for.
If it’s not relevant, leave it out! Employers don’t want to read about your children, your paddleboarding weekends or your knitting projects. They care about how your immerse yourself in the creative industries, how you expand on your key creative skills. So if you love museums, galleries, sketching, drawing, oil painting, collect vintage homewares or do any kind of handicrafts, these will be more relevant on your CV.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make on your CV?
Address – if you don’t live in the area where you’re applying don’t include your address. You may be willing to relocate for the role but don’t give employers any reason to doubt your application before they have even read it!
Just adding a link your portfolio – make the link clear but also always add a PDF alongside your CV as it’s not always possible to download large files or access the internet on the move.
Spellcheck! It sounds obvious but do not forget to spellcheck. Many people create a CV or portfolio using design software like In Design which don’t include a built-in spellcheck. Always write your copy in Word or another programme which will highlight spelling and grammar errors before you copy it over.
Photos – If you include a photo of yourself, keep it small and keep it professional.
How long should my CV be?
When you’re starting out your CV may only be 1-2 pages long. This is fine. Even when you have more experience, keeping your CV concise and easy to scan read can make the difference from being called in for an interview or passed over for someone else who’s skills are more apparent.
Would I get an interview without a portfolio?
If you just submitted your CV without a portfolio, would you stand out from the crowd? Is your CV concise and clear enough to make your skills stand out without demonstrating your ability? If you don’t think so, consider rewriting so that your strongest skills are there loud and clear.
How do I make my interior design CV stand out?
You’re a designer. Your CV should look like a designer’s CV. Make it look visually appealing by adding a sketch, render or photo from your portfolio. Give the employer something to entice them into looking at your portfolio.
Should I send a cover letter?
Cover letters are a little old fashioned and you don’t have to include one with your CV but whether you send an email or letter, you’ll want to highlight some key points separately from your CV to remove any hesitate or cause the employer to do their own research.
- Your availability for interview
- Your availability for work – notice period etc
- Your reason for applying to them specifically – admire their work/last project
Make sure your cover letter or email is tailored specifically to that company and not copied and pasted to lots of businesses. This removes the chance of errors and makes it obvious that you really want that job, not just any job!