CV: There are very many things that can be completed within 30 seconds. You could butter a slice of toast and eat it. You could read an email and reply. You could even run up and down a flight of stairs twice. However, it is a safe bet that most of the big decisions you make in life usually take time and consideration. So, when you think about the importance of a CV, it may be a source of great frustration that most recruiters make a decision on calling someone to interview in less than 30 seconds. That is less time than it takes to read this paragraph.
Even 30 seconds may be overstating it…
In fact, even 30 seconds may be overstating how long is spent on average reading a CV. According to research carried out by The Ladders.com in 2012, the average time spent reading a CV was just 6.25 seconds. And to think, all those hours spent honing your finely crafted CV! But whether it is 30 seconds or 6, the message is clear: you have only a very short window of opportunity for your CV to work its magic.
A 2-page CV is ideal
Certainly, with just seconds to work with there is clearly no point in writing pages and pages of detail. Giving yourself a 2-page format helps to focus the mind. It gives you a concise framework from which to work with and decide what information to include and what to leave out. With every piece of information, you should ask yourself ‘is this going to positively influence the reader in making a decision on calling me to interview?’. If the answer is not a ‘yes’ you can probably leave it out.
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Engage the reader immediately
It is vital to capture the attention of the reader quickly. The first thing a recruiter wants to see is the relevance of your CV. So make sure you position yourself clearly in line with the role being applied for in the Professional Profile at the beginning of your CV. This is why a Professional Profile can be really useful. It can act like an on/off switch. A focused profile that shows your relevance will switch the reader on. A generic profile that is not aligned to the job being applied for may switch the reader off.
Make your CV easy to navigate
Make sure your section headings stand out so that the CV is easy to navigate. Recruiters like to scan the CV so make the information accessible. Use bullet points to help statements stand out and don’t justify the text. There is nothing a time stretched recruiter hates to see more than a big block of black ink. They may read the first line if you are lucky. And most of the really important information is probably going to be buried deep somewhere within the paragraph block.
So give your CV the 30 second litmus test. If you can read the key parts of your CV in under half a minute, then you might just stand a good chance of catching a potential employers eye.