When it comes to applying for new roles, you don’t have long to impress. In fact, studies show that recruiters spend somewhere between five and seven seconds on average looking at a candidate’s CV. That’s less than the time it takes to boil a kettle (think about that the next time you make a coffee).
So how can you ensure your application lands in the ‘yes’ pile with such little time to impress? Here’s our guide on passing the seven second CV test.
Keep it short
CVs are never one-size-fits-all.
Most recruiters say two pages is spot on, but it all depends on how much information you have to share. However, any more than three will be a definite turn-off.
The key is to ‘cut the fat’. Ask yourself the question, ‘is this sentence relevant to the role that I’m applying for?’ If you find yourself saying no, then it shouldn’t make the final cut.
And when it comes to your qualifications – be specific. Add start and end dates, qualification types and grades. You don’t need to add all of your qualifications either. At least two or three will usually suffice. For example, if you have an MBA, a business degree, A Levels and other qualifications, you may find that you can exclude irrelevant qualifications to this role and A Levels from your CV.
Capture the reader’s attention
No matter what job you’re applying for, always tailor your CV to include relevant examples showing the recruiter that you’re right for the role.
If you have a specific job in mind, then even better. Use your CV to match up with the job spec and show the recruiter that you’re a good match – not to mention dedicated enough to really work on your application
And if you find that your experience doesn’t exactly marry up with the job description, don’t panic. Take some time to think about transferrable skills and show that you’re willing, able and equipped to handle the duties at hand.
Follow a logical, easy to navigate layout
A good use of formatting is vital to a successful CV.
Choose an easy-to-read structure, with clear headings, and highlight key points by using bullet points to display the information. Place emphasis on the information you want employers to see first, and always use a logical order throughout.
For example, if you haven’t got a lot of previous experience, focus on your personal statement, qualifications and skills instead. If you have done a similar role, leave your education details to later on.
This will allow recruiters to find what they’re looking for quickly, and help make the most of the precious seconds that a recruiter takes to comb through your CV.
Don’t bury your key points in layers of waffle.
Ditch the clichés
Nothing’s more likely to make a recruiter switch off than a generic application.
And, even though you might think phrases like ‘excellent team player’ and ‘good communication skills’ are essential, all they end up doing is make your CV look like everyone else’s – something which could have dire consequences when a recruiter scans your CV.
Instead, keep things positive, and always back up your attributes with real examples. After all, ‘increased revenue by X’ sounds a lot better than simply saying you’re a hard worker.
Recruiters are just as bored of reading the same old stock phrases as you are of writing them.