It takes a recruiter just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV – less time than it takes for a kettle to boil. So what does it take to ensure that your CV makes it onto the recruiter’s ‘interview’ rather than ‘reject’ pile? My new book The 7 Second CV gives you the answers.
The seven-second rule might seem pretty dispiriting, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact it can be to your advantage because success with your CV comes down to knowing what recruiters want. As soon as you know what it’s like for them, you’re on the first step to writing a CV that wins you the interview. And yes, that’s what the CV’s for… winning you the interview.
What do recruiters want? Well, I asked them…
It turns out that recruiters are a pretty reasonable bunch and their needs are few. They want your CV to:
- Tell them up front why you’re one of the best candidates for that particular job
- Be clear and easy to read so that they can compare it instantly with other CVs
- Bring out your mindset and personality
What recruiters think most makes a CV stand out is relevant work history, closely followed by a clear visual layout that’s easy to read. However, spelling mistakes and frequent job changes are likely to land it in the reject pile. A quarter of hiring managers use Applicant Tracking Systems to screen CVs and three quarters prefer a CV to be two pages long (if printed out, double sided is best). According to them, you’re also advised to use a reverse-chronological format, to include a cover letter and to be prepared for your social media profiles to be scrutinised.
Collating all these discoveries together led me to create what I call ‘The Fatal Five’, or the five key mistakes that could land your CV in the reject pile. They are, in order of importance:
- A lack of relevant work history
- Spelling mistakes
- Frequent job changes
- Not enough information
- Poor visual layout
Over and above the way your CV is written and formatted lies an important goal: your CV must inspire trust, and inspire a recruiter to make that leap of faith by offering you an interview. Taking on a new person is always a risk for an employer, which means that CV mistakes and obvious exaggerations are a huge turn-off. On the other hand, there are plenty of ways you can present yourself as the most credible candidate for the job.
The 7 Second CV will show you how.
The 7 Second CV by James Reed, published in January 2019 by Virgin Books, is available in paperback, on Kindle and as an audiobook. You can access it here.