CV help please

I dont have very much graphic design experience. I worked for a small print house for 3 months, and the rest has been freelance. I have had a few crappy jobs to keep the money coming in, and i was just wondering whether i should put these down on my CV? Because if i dont there are significant gaps in my previous employment. Should i put them down or should i just keep it creative experience??

I've heard of some people putting that they were freelancing to explain periods where they worked in non-creative jobs, saying they were freelancing in their free time around a job that helps pay the bills.

How this comes across with employers I don't know but there's no shame in trying to make ends meets I suppose.
Employers don't consider 'freelance experience' as valid work experience so I'd say there's little point listing it. Perhaps just list the names of a few notable clients who's work you're particularly proud of and make sure you include your very best stuff in your work samples as it's that which will get you an interview!
What sort of work should I have in my portfolio? I have mostly logos, letterheads, leaflets and posters. As i've said previously i've not had a great deal of experience. Any suggestions how i can improve my portfolio? Thanks
I have mostly logos, letterheads, leaflets and posters.
I've translated quite a lot of high flyers' CVs, international corporate execs, even the odd senior European bureaucrat, and I have some idea about what works. I'd say list your logos, letterheads, etc. Literally, in reverse chronological order, and in detail: what the brief was, who your clients were (even if they were targets you set for yourself), what the dates/deadlines were, what the specs were, put thumbnails if copyright doesn't let you use actual full-size images... I have to disagree with bigdave, freelancing experience is valid experience (though it may not be the easiest route into a big studio) and there is absolutely nothing more important than your portfolio. So flaunt it. I used to do this as an 'annex' (Eurospeak, sorry) to my CV proper (which has worked very well for its intended purpose of getting me freelance work), that way they can read it if they want, but you aren't obliging them to plough through it.

Now, do you want to put your 'crappy' fill-in jobs on your CV? I suppose you mean waitressing or bartending or the like - well, why not? It shows a willingness to work, and I've never known an employer who underestimated that, and as you say, gaps in your CV are embarrassing. But I knew one Director of Sales who automatically hired anyone claiming door-to-door experience, precisely because it takes real guts to do it. My own CV still includes my youthful summer of pig castrating, though towards the end, obviously. And it's OK to play that stuff down - most HR people I've known can't usually be bothered with a CV much longer than 2 pages anyway.

But then of course, they aren't generally interested in anyone over twenty-five, either.
Please phone a creative recruitment agent such as Orchard or Purple and ask them their opinion on the content of a CV as I can guarantee you that freelance experience is not considered appropriate experience for employment within an agency. Having spoken to a recruitment agent recently myself I can confirm that the reason for this is there is no guaranteed, proven standard to freelance work while employed design experience suggests a level of professional ability and experience.

If it makes you feel better by listing the unskilled jobs you've done then by all mean list them but again they're not relevant to the industry you're working in and may make your CV look cluttered and appear that you're unable to stick to one thing.

As for samples, balls to chronological ordering! You should include between 6 and 8 samples of your best work, starting with a sh*t hot piece and finishing with a sh*t hot piece! Remember the prospective employer is going to be looking at 50 - 100 CVs and samples so you want them to remember your work and how bloody good it is, not how well you've been able to arrange it into a timeline of what you did and when. Your Sample work is basically a snapshot of your portfolio so they need to be left thinking "I need to see more!" otherwise you don't get an interview.

As for not being interested in anyone over 25, that strikes me a the most bizarre statement ever!? If a 40 year old applies for a Junior or graduate roll then sure, there age going to be some questions asked but if you graduate at 21-22 and go straight into work, by 25 you're not even qualified for a mid-weight role so are likely to get ignored because you're too young and inexperienced not because you're over the hill!
Please say the '25' thing is not true? Im 29 next month! :(
...I've done 2 degrees and spent a year thinking i wanted to get into teaching art. (So admittedly i put myself behind a bit)

Im going to carry on doing freelance for the time being because how else can i build up my portfolio, whilst im not employed in the industry?
Also i think its obvious i might need magazine/brochure spreads in my portfolio, but i've not actually dont any in my previous (3 months) employment. Ill have a go at some myself i guess, but im worried they wont be good enough for my portfolio?
I would say freelance experience is still good and I would definitely put it on your CV! I don't know how anyone could suggest not including it! It might not be as good as real studio experience since with freelance you can work when you like without the pressures of a busy design studio, but the fact that you have done freelance work and had to deal with your own clients on real life jobs counts as real design experience.

My first CV out of uni was 2 pages long and included all my jobs (bar jobs etc) and went back to my education, I think it included GCSEs. My I got my first design job (well it was only work experience) as the owner of the studio got in touch with me after seeing my CV and said he didn't even read it all, he just liked the layout of it! So in that instance the actual content of my CV was irrelevant. Not saying everyone will read a CV in that way though. Since then I then changed my CV to just one side of A4 which is what it is now. Its very minimal and it only includes my last education (degree) and just my last design jobs / experience and seems to do fairly well in getting responses from people. Probably because they don't have to read so much!
I'd certainly expect a designer's CV to demonstrate excellent design and general communication skills (in terms of layout, brevity/concision, etc.); I think even the general, non-design sector rule of thumb when sifting CVs is to disregard anything untidy and/or long-winded (except in the case of very senior positions where the latter is concerned). Back to the original point, though, 'crappy' jobs are preferable to unexplained gaps (and can perhaps be used to demonstrate interpersonal experience) but I'd also refer to freelancing as something done alongside said crappy engagements as it indicates an ongoing involvement/commitment to the profession on a self-directed basis (i.e. passion, direction, etc.).