Writing the Cabinetmaker's CV - finding work after your course


Writing the Cabinetmaker’s CV – finding work after your course.


Working in a commercial workshop is not the end goal for all our students, but for many, our course is their means to a complete change of career, to earn a living doing something that they love.

By the end of your time with us, you’ll know and practice fine furniture making to a professional standard. You’ll even have several beautiful pieces of furniture to feature in your portfolio. This will demonstrate your acquired skills, competence as a maker, and your application and understanding of design.

But how do you get that all important job? Well brace yourself for the essential….. but less interesting subject of CV’s and interview techniques. For if you don’t have the skills to get yourself to (and through) an interview, then you could be an excellent maker, but may still  struggle to get employment.

We all believe we know how to write a CV – but the advice on writing it effectively changes all the time. We only need to look at the internet for an ocean of conflicting advice – some good, but often some really quite bad and outdated. I imagine most of us have fallen victim to peppering our personal descriptions with power words – tired verbs that employers have heard over and over again, to the point where they have lost their meaning. It can also be easy to copy an online CV template – but is the layout and information in that template appropriate to your industry?

What do Workshop Managers look for in a cabinetmaker’s CV? What will make your application stand out above others? How can you best come across at interview or in a trade test? Is your portfolio more important than your CV?


Jane and Justin have been running the bespoke furniture arm of Williams and Cleal for 27 years and employed numerous makers in that time. As such, they have a wealth of experience and advice to impart to our students on what they look for as employers.

Moreover, Williams and Cleal are part of a focus group of bespoke furniture workshops and employers in the South West, investing time into opening up job opportunities in South West Furniture businesses. We frequently keep our CV, interview and trade test advice current by canvassing the opinion of the Workshop Managers in this group – and pass this onto our students.


I will leave you with some CV advice from John Hampton, the Production Manager at Artichoke Ltd – Designers and Makers of Bespoke Interiors and Furniture in Cheddar, Somerset.


“With today’s technologies most of the CV’s we receive now are via email, but I still think it’s fine to send a CV in the post.

I’m sat here looking at six CV’s of guys that have been taken on here during the past 1-6 years.  Three still work here and three have moved on to further their career. They all have particular things in common.  Presentation, layout and content make a huge difference when standing out amongst others.  They all start with either work history or a personal statement detailing motivations, skills and achievements.  I always think it is great to start with a personal statement then move on to work history.  A great covering letter is also always important.  Also hands down, except one, they all show lots of photographs of work, some show magazine articles, paper cuttings etc. One great CV I have completely stands out amongst the rest is designed and presented more like a website than a CV.  There is something to be said for completely thinking outside of the box but remember that an employer is looking for the information they need to know.

It definitely makes a difference when CV’s are clear and easy to read.  Definitely keep things simple, no guff or fluff and always be truthful.  It really is true when they say that first impressions count and decisions are made with CV’s within the first half a page.

I also think with today’s social media the options continue to expand.  I have had no emailed CV’s yet that link to Instagram, videos, websites, internet content etc. I’m sure this will come.