Getting Noticed

Getting yourself noticed as a designer has never been an easy task. Right now I’d say it’s even harder, you’ve got to have the experience or nobody wants to know, so for someone who has recently finished their degree and is looking for their first serious design gig employment can be a minefield of “at least two years agency experience required” and similar phrases.  Don’t write off these sorts of vacancies just because they ask for experience (if I did there would be nothing left to apply for), make a real point of letting your work speak for itself, if you are good enough, you will get the job regardless of your experience, provided the prospective employer gets as far as your portfolio.

Of course, if it looks like you just fell out of education with the same CV layout your high school gave you as a template then getting noticed is not going to be easy. You’re unlikely to get anywhere near that precious interview, where you can really show who you are and what you’re about.  Now, I’m in this area at the moment myself, giving my CV a face lift, re-wording everything, making it easier on the eyes and I have been pouring over advice from many sources. Each source seems to contradict another, some say use only standard fonts, some say to avoid them, some say don’t use word, others say use word because everyone can open it (which is not correct and that’s surely what PDF is for). The question, really, is, which advice to follow? When there’s so much of it out there if you followed it all your CV would be some sort of frankenstein monster CV with bolts and greenish skin.

The only consistent rule is keep it simple and readable, which is plain common sense surely. Nobody will read past the first section of your CV if they get a headache de-cyphering the colour-coded mass. Another good rule is to keep to the standard format, the usual headings are there for a reason, the paper is A4 and portrait for a reason. Further more, why do most online vacancies sites request your CV as a Word doc anyway? It would make far more sense to ask for a PDF, which even Word (with a little of jigery-pokery if you’re using 2007) is capable of. I would also ask, why do people feel the need to include their photograph? Unless you are a model, planning on becoming the face of the company or need to assure the employer of your appearance for some other reason then just don’t bother.

Okay, lets get to the point, as all of the various suggestions, advice and help I have received have pointed me off in all directions, I feel I should throw this open to the floor. it’s somewhat mind boggling so this can’t make it any worse.
What is the best advice you can give me regarding my CV?
Things that would help me get a job within design and illustration, I understand the portfolio is my most powerful weapon in getting that interview but right now I feel like I might not even be getting this far.

And to make things interesting, lets hear any CV horrors you have encountered. Any of the big no’s that have really shocked you.  
Thanks everyone.