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Jonathan Greenhalgh Engineering, Manufacturing...

Gone in 6 Seconds - How to catch a recruiters eye with your CV


Six seconds, that's the time your CV has to impress a recruiter in their initial sift through applicants.

That sounded a bit low, so I asked our recruiters to fill out an anonymous survey and give me their opinion.

We asked; How long do you take when you first look at someone's CV? 70% answered that they spend 10+ seconds on the initial scan of a candidates CV. Showing that they are spending more time than your average recruiter to consider candidates. 

As well as time viewed, we wanted to know what made a CV stand out, so we asked; Which of the following help capture your attention? With simple layouts and clear sections and headings coming out at the top of the things that they would like to see when looking at a CV, apart from the skills and experience obviously.

Then we wanted to find out what our recruiters were put off by when looking at a CV, so we asked them; Which of the following would put you off when viewing a CV? 

The top answer, picked by every single person that answered the survey was that they are put off a CV if it is too cluttered. This was closely followed by CVs with multiple columns, making them harder to format and a lack of clear headers and titles.

So when creating your CV, keep it simple. Use headers and titles, put your work history in reverse order, starting with your latest role, and please DONT use tables or mess with the page margins/column. Recruiters loathe tables and unnecessary page margins/columns, even more, you haven't seen rage until you've seen a recruiter try and format one of these CVs. 

A well-structured CV with relevant headers is going to catch a recruiters eye and help you as you try to find a new job. Whereas a cluttered, disorganised CV may find its way to the bottom of the pile.

This advice is sector-specific, a designer might use their CV to show off their skills. We deal with Engineering, Manufacturing and Tech roles, so the CVs are a bit more black and white, but that's ok!

We have a complete guide on CV writing, and how to find a new job, you can read that here.