Posted 17 April 2024
Written by Shana Marie

Are CVs becoming redundant in the creative industry? Shana Marie shares her insights

A multidisciplinary creative with a wealth of in-house and freelance experience, Shana Marie is well-versed in the lengthy job application process. Shana was headhunted for a role at Anyways Creative while freelance, working for Paul Smith Foundation as a community manager. Now freelancing as a creative strategist, her previous clients include Netflix, Google, YouTube, Swatch and Levi’s, and she’s also a visiting lecturer for Hertfordshire University. In this article extract from her blog, Shana explores the role of CVs in the creative industry, considering what the future might hold for alternative applications.

I first began making ramblings about this topic in 2023, when my opinion on the relevance of CVs was as leading as the question suggests... redundant. I understood the relevance, but were they actually necessary in the creative industry? I’ve since reflected and altered my opinion slightly so think of this article as an internal battle I once had with myself, and decide for yourself whether you agree or disagree with me.

💭 My past thinking

“Are CVs becoming redundant in the creative industry?

The answer is yes, you can stop reading now. As I reflect on my journey in the creative industry thus far, I’ve been asked for my CV maybe three times in the past four years and that was mainly by pesky LinkedIn recruiters (I may have a personal vendetta against them but that’s for another day).

In my opinion, I don’t find them pivotal when job hunting. I proudly speak for Gen Z when we say we are tired of applying for jobs. The application process is dreadful and needs a much-needed update, especially when we upload our CV and then we are asked to manually fill out the details. That’s enough to close the laptop. I can survive on beans, it is never that deep.”

If this article more pointed towards the advertising industry – specifically roles such as intern, creative, graphic designer or art worker – it could only lean towards the redundancy of CVs. We have portfolios, online presences and networking to help bypass the formalities of an application process. However, it’s not until we look beyond ad-land and all the jobs that sit within it, that are truly able to answer this question fairly.

🧐 Are CVs for losers?

In my initial research, I found several entry-level programmes targeted at 18 to 24 year olds with little-to-no experience. Dazed Media introduced a paid internship targeting under 30s wanting access into the creative industry. Personal kudos to the company for raising the application age to 30, as this shows signs of trying to be more inclusive even if the pay is just London Living Wage.

The process consists of a three-part application with step one being as informal as it gets - encouraged to apply via video, voicenote or a written submission before doing a task to show skill set. They have framed CVs as “boring” and boast about their alternate approach than the typical application process.

“Some of the most talented people I’ve met have not gone down the traditional pathway.”

Kennedise, formerly known as The Kennedys, have taken a similar approach stating “CVs are for losers". That’s one way to grab the attention of Gen Z I guess. The application process is a step up from Dazed, with a task from the get-go.

Last year's application consisted of answering three varied questions engaging a range of skill sets; research, problem-solving, copywriting, personality, and perspective.

The Dazed Media Internship and Kennedise are some of the mentorship opportunities available offering alternative application methods to CVs.

👌 Why are alternative applications better?

In my opinion, these applications get straight to the point, both judging someone on their creativity and ability to think in unique ways instead of metrics that alienate people who don’t fit the mould. Some of the most talented people I’ve met have not gone down the traditional pathway.

Should they be ostracised for the socio-economic barriers put in place that prevents them from being deemed worthy of a chance? Especially with all that Gen Z has to offer being seen as the new 'it' culture, and their proximity to “coolness” for many agencies.

🙇 My experiences

On the other hand, I can’t help but draw from my own experiences within the industry, working both as a freelancer and full-time employee the process is drastically different with the barriers to entry being vast.

Whilst freelancing I was headhunted by the former creative director at Anyways Creative after spotting my work online. Now I can’t confirm or deny if she read through my CV but the focus was on my portfolio. After a quick coffee and an informal chat, I came into the agency working freelance. That went on for about a year before joining the agency full-time.

Now I wonder what the application process would have looked like if I applied through traditional portals, what would the interview process be like or the hoops I’d have to jump through to be proved equipped for the role?

🔍 What about self-employment?

Does being self-employed eradicate some of the headache of a CV, or are they the same demons in a different format?

Providing recruiters a copy of my CV feels like a right of passage, but has it been pivotal in securing a role? Nope. Especially when most agencies use AI to scan your CV and cover letters for keywords, what's the actual point?

It almost feels like courting if you will, flirting with the prospects of a job from start to finish.

Accessible platforms such as I Like Networking, Run The Check, WeArePOCC and Social FIXT offer job opportunities and industry knowledge for all ages.

“[Interview] tasks can tell you so much more about a person than an A4 slide.”

🤝 Hopes for the future

As we settle into this digital age, it’s quite obvious we are moving away from tradition and putting the emphasis on talent which can only be shown through portfolios.

However, whether CVs will be a thing of the past now, or in five years, the corporate world still thrives on competition and elitism. Removing barriers to entry only disrupts the hierarchy that society has put in place.

I do hope brands and agencies look beyond tradition because there's truly some incredible talent being held outside the club due to small formalities. While CVs help distil information and highlight the role you played in a project, tasks can tell you so much more about a person than an A4 slide.


Read the full version of Shana's piece on her blog Shanaversity now.

Written by Shana Marie