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Your CV in 6.25 Seconds


Posted on 24/03/2015 by Gareth Dixon

As I turn my attention to the world of interim recruitment, I wanted to share some advice regarding CVs that I have learned over the last 8 years of working in recruitment.

People spend hours preparing CVs and what you are about to read probably doesn’t meet your expectations about how clients review them.



Firstly, you should think of your CV as a marketing tool and not necessarily an information provider!

Hiring managers and recruiters generally scan in an “F” pattern when speed reading CV’s, which generally means that text isn’t read thoroughly. Recent research from the job search site TheLadders shows that we only spend 6.25 seconds looking at a CV before deciding whether the candidate should be considered for the role. The study also showed that 80% of the six seconds is spent looking at just six things;

  • Name

  • Current Title/company

  • Pervious Title/company

  • Previous position, start and end dates

  • Current position, start and end dates

The other 20% is spent looking for keywords that are relevant to the job that is being recruited! As harsh as it sounds, I have to agree with the research.

It’s all very well telling you that we read in an “F” Pattern, but how can you use this to your advantage? Here are a few tips that will encourage the reader to review your CV in more detail.

Tip 1:

Firstly, give the reader all the above information that they are seeking at in a condensed format for each job, for example:

Macro Tak Limited       LOGISTICS DIRECTOR August 2013 to March 2015

Macro Tak Limited is a major supplier of dispense equipment for the beer and soft drinks industry.

If you then set it out as I’ve done below, then it gives the reader everything they need by scanning down the left:

Macro Tak Limited

August 2013 to March 2015

Logistics Director

Macro Tak Limited is a major supplier of dispense equipment for the beer and soft drinks industry.

Tip 2:

The second bit of advice that is always well received is relevant to the ‘summary’ of the company you work for. Taking the example above, I can bet that you said to yourself “I don’t know that company” (probably because I just made it up). Micro Tak may be a high flying company but by the very fact that you don’t know them, it makes your perception more negative rather than positive. Expand on this summary to give a “macro to micro” view highlighting company turnover, stating reach (national/international/global), their most recognised product/type, sectors and finally the names of your most prestigious or well-known customers. By referencing these you are creating commonality and increasing credibility of your company because the reader can now connect the dots by association:

Macro Tak Limited

August 2013 to March 2015

Logistics Director

Macro Tak Limited is a major supplier of dispense equipment for the beer and soft drinks industry for customers such as Coca Cola, SAB Miller, Heineken and Diageo.

Notice how those commonly recognisable names conjure up affirmative feelings……this is the power of associated marketing!

Tip 3:

So, you’ve got your headings and summary right, what information do you put in the body? Many of your responsibilities will be alluded to by your job title and company, so don’t regurgitate your job description unless you can quantify it and it is something worth bragging about i.e. holding accountability for an £8m budget.

Do take the time to quantify your achievements; this might not be something that you do on a regular basis in your current role but for candidates in the Purchasing and Buying, Logistics and Supply Chain fields it is a worthwhile exercise, focusing on cost, service and accuracy improvements. Think about the performance level before and after you introduced any changes:

“Implemented lean/agile management disciplines in order to significantly improve Stock Record Accuracy from 91 to 99.9%”

Tip 4:

Don’t separate achievements sections at the top of your CV because as we already know, the hiring manager or recruiter is going to look at who you work for, what your job title is now and how long you have been there for. Therefore, if your achievements section has been positioned above this then it is highly unlikely that the reader will double back to find it.

6.25 seconds is such a short time to make an impact, but if you have a crisp and clearly laid out CV with the most relevant information in the right places, then you stand a much better chance of someone reading through the rest of your excellent resumé!

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