28th June 2022

Our top tips for a sizzling CV, stunning showreel and unforgettable application…

Jenny Burbage
Posted 28th June 2022

Our lovely artists and producers have put together their collective wisdom below just for you:) Its’ all here! Read on…

CV and Application Tips

Back to Basics

It sounds silly, but there have been instances where people have not put their name on their application e-mail! Always try to imagine you’re reading your CV or application email for the first time. Does it answer all your questions?

Know Your Department

Is it obvious from your CV and cover letter which department you wish to work in? It’s important to know which department you see yourself working in, and any experience you have that is relevant to this.

Know The Company

Have you put the correct company name in your application email? Always try and refer to the company’s work to show that you have done your research. You should also explain why you would like to work for that company.

Keep It Simple

CVs that are almost entirely images can be very difficult to read and pull out the relevant information. Add some creative flare to your CV to stand out, but try not to overdo it. Bullet pointed lists and short sentences make your CV easier to read and easier for recruiters to scan for key points.

Contact Information and Availability

Are your contact details clear on your CV, including mobile number? Does your cover letter clearly state when you are available?

Eligibility to Work

Is it clear from your CV or cover letter that you are eligible to work in the UK? If not, are your sponsorship requirements clearly pointed out?

Keep It Up To Date

Make sure the CV you are sending highlights your latest experience and position.

Last Checks

You can use the checklist overleaf to help you make sure you have covered the basics before sending your application.

Checklist for Applications

  • I have run a spelling and grammar check
  • I have included all the important information about myself
  • I have made it clear which department I wish to work in and where I see my career is taking me
  • My CV is legible and it’s easy to extract the key information
  • I have made my contact information clear
  • I have made my availability to work clear
  • I have made my eligibility to work clear
  • My CV is up to date with my latest positions and experiences
  • I have checked to make sure my CV is attached before sending
  • My email is addressed to the correct company


Showreel Tips 

General Thoughts

When I watch a reel, I want to see some level of innovation. I want to see a grasp of the technology but then show me creatively how it can help you tell me something visual. Prove to us that you can take a toolset and, using it, create something that didn’t exist and could only have been made with your skillset.

Show us your drive and passion to make something and do your best not to follow the crowd. Take real advantage of your time as a student to hone your ambition and explore what you enjoy doing.

Tailor Made

If you’re applying for a specific role, i.e. an FX artist, then cut out that awesome animation if it doesn’t serve to emphasise a skill related to the job you are applying for. By all means, keep the animation in if it serves to show off an FX shot but otherwise, it’s irrelevant.

Put yourself into the shoes of the employer. We’re being paid by a client to do great VFX, so help us save our time by showing us only the things that will serve the job advertisement.

Your focus will get noticed and that will help you get a job.

Let The Good Times Roll

When I made my first reel, I spent an extra 6 months trying to make it look more professional. I spent days on the title graphics alone. I was so involved with making something polished that I wasn’t focusing enough on the job at hand.

Having now sat on the other side of the table, reviewing hundreds of reels, I can tell you: titles and fancy graphics will not help you. Keep it simple and let the work do the impressing. I could have saved time had I really understood this when I was starting out.

The lesson here is put your time into what you want to be doing every day at work and don’t spread yourself thin, keep focused.


If you have worked on a team project, make sure you clearly describe what work you contributed. Vimeo has a nice feature that allows you to add timecode hyperlinks to your video description. Use this to detail what you did at certain points in the reel.

Tick Tock

Consider this: it takes months of numerous artists and technicians to complete a minute of complicated VFX work. If your reel is 3-4 minutes long, and it took you six months, how can you possibly compete? I’d much rather see an animation, explosion, model etc… that took you months to make but which showed your ability to contribute something valuable.

You don’t need to complete the explosion; light it and composite it if you don’t feel you have skills in those other disciplines. They could end up making your work look worse, so ration your time and save ours.

Keep your reel under 2 minutes and make us look closer and wonder how you managed to achieve such great detail. Wow us, make us look twice!

Mirror Mirror

If you are using the same training material as other students or you’re working in a team, consider how your reel will stand out. My suggestion is you either spend more time adding your own creative touches or you show breakdowns or R&D of the work you’ve specifically created. As mentioned earlier, I took extra time after graduating to apply what I’d learnt and create some fresh work. This made my reel unique and I could talk comfortably about everything I’d created on my own.

Checklist for Showreels

  • Focus on your skill and don’t feel the need to complete full VFX shots
  • Try to be original with your content, don’t just go through the motions. How can the tools be utilised to create something only you can envision?
  • Show us what you enjoy doing and get the job that suits your job needs
  • Tailor your reel if you work on team projects so employers aren’t confused about what you did
  • Keep it under 2 minutes
  • Add music if you must, as long as it’s not distracting, employers won’t mind

Awright Guv’nah

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