How to write a great job CV

By Nicole Wilson  -  26 January 2016

Job auditions are difficult situations. The panels will have sat, possibly for days hearing hundreds of people playing the same repertoire in a desperate bid to win a place on trial. What can you do to distinguish yourself in a good way so that they take you seriously and remember your performance? Your CV will play a big role in helping the panel keep their concentration and learn more about you while you're playing. So here I give you my 10 top tips for writing a professional looking CV and showing yourself in the best possible light in your auditions.

  1. Break your CV up into sections. Choose 4/5 main headings:  education, orchestral experience, solo experience, chamber experience, referees etc.
  2. Try and cut your CV down into one page, two at the very most. Panels have so many people to hear that they won’t have time to wade through pages and pages and weed out the useful information in there.
  3. Don’t forget to include all your contact details at the top of your CV. Include email, phone number and diary service if you have one. It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t provide full details.
  4. There is no need to put your age on your CV. In fact it’s against the law for an orchestra to ask anyway. The relevant information should be your experience…
  5. Don’t give long lists of things you did before you got to Music College/started on your freelance career. Sadly no one on a panel cares how many GCSEs you got… What matters to them is if you’re up to the standard of playing professionally.
  6. Put your most impressive gigs at the top of the list! Catch the panels eye with the most high profile and most relevant work in relation to the job you’re applying for. E.g. if you’re applying for a symphony orchestra job, don’t wax lyrical about a concerto you played last year. Tell them about the most high profile orchestra you’ve played with (even if only once!).
  7. If you’ve done many trials, only list the most recent and most high profile ones otherwise it just becomes a list of the jobs you didn’t quite get.
  8. Instead of listing multiple awards you’ve won or concerts you’ve played around the world, try and make it into a succinct sentence. For example ‘I have won numerous awards including the xxx prize and the xxx scholarship resulting in concerto performances throughout Europe.’
  9. Get two referees who are known in the business. Choose people who know your playing and like you! They don't have to be leaders of major orchestras but people who hold positions already and whose opinion will be believed by the panel.
  10. Don’t list hobbies at the end of the CV. Unless the hobby is something relevant to the job, it’s not appropriate. If you get a trial, then that is your moment to show them the kind of person you are. Sky-diving and knitting, although fascinating to some, do not show that you’re necessarily the right person to join a section. Say it all with your performance. You’ll be respected more!

About Nicole Wilson

Principal freelance violinist in London, ex London Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera, Nicole is also a CD producer, TV/Radio presenter and founder of Musical Orbit.

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