It’s well documented that recruiters make up their mind about a candidate within the first ten seconds of an interview. Whether or not this is true, it does highlight the important role which first impressions have to play in today’s highly competitive and candidate saturated job market.
With such high stakes, it’s no wonder that candidates go to extreme lengths to ensure the best possible first impression in an interview. What many neglect to give due care and attention to though, is the very first impression that he employer has of them…their CV.
As is the case with a face-to-face meeting in an interview, an employer will (intentionally or subconsciously) make instant judgements on you as a candidate based upon your CV.
It might seem unfair that an employer would judge your suitability for a role based on things which are seemingly trivial, but this is merely a result of the level of choice that they now have when it comes to choosing employees… it is very much still a buyer’s market.
As a job seeker, you should be doing everything that you can to make sure the first impression your CV makes on your behalf is a good one.
Here are 3 of the main things that recruiters notice about your CV at first glance, and some tips on how to make the best first impression.
These are the things that you need to keep in mind when putting together your CV. Employers may be faced with hundreds of applications for an available role, making the process of assessing each application on its merit very difficult. You should make it as easy as possible for them to pick out the important information from your CV, to maximise the chances that you will be shortlisted for interview. Avoid long bulky descriptions, use bullet points to cut out unnecessary phrases and make sure you only include relevant information.
Check out our recent post on streamlining your CV for more information on how to make it more clear and straightforward.
The question often arises, ‘how long should a CV be’ and the answer which is sometimes given is ‘as long as it takes’, but this is not true.
Whilst there is no formally agreed upon, scientifically verified length for a perfect CV, we can say, with 100 percent confidence, that any longer than 2 A4 pages, and you are straying into dangerous territory.
Likewise any less than ¾ of an A4 page also gives the wrong impression, so perhaps it’s fair to suggest that a perfect happy medium should lie somewhere in the middle.
Most people struggle to reduce the length of their CV because they feel an incredible pressure to squeeze in as much information as possible. This is completely unnecessary, since the purpose of a CV is not to convince the employer that you are the perfect person for the job, but rather to encourage them to move you forward to the next stage of the recruitment process.
As we often say tailoring your CV to each and every job you apply for is the best way of ensuring that it is as relevant and considered as possible for each and every job you apply for. Effective reading of the job specification can also be very useful in identifying which parts you should trim down and which may need to expand further.
As terribly boring as it might seem, your CV is by its very nature a fairly mundane document, and there isn’t a lot that you can do to change that. It’s very important to acknowledge that different parts of the interview process are dedicated to identifying different candidate attributes. Within the process your CV is initially used as a short listing tool, nothing else. An employer looking at it, will be most interested in whether or not you meet the essential / desirable criteria and won’t have time to consider anything else at this point.
This is why you should not use the formatting of your CV to express how wonderfully creative and original you are, you can do that in the interview.
Use a classic font that will make your CV easy to read and allow the employer to pick out the most relevant information. Avoid unusual elements such as coloured paper and borders which can make your CV look unprofessional.
We have lots more great information on making sure your CV is as good as it can be including;
5 ways to make your CV stand out
5 ways to improve your CV
Top CV mistakes you should avoid