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Professional CVs: 5 Second Rule

There are always hundreds of CV applications for jobs these days as competition is strife in the market, notably given the ups and downs of the past few years within the economy.

Once you get past ATS systems which we have touched upon, recruiters will likely have a lot of candidate CVs to look at, and they will not have time to read each one in great detail word for word.

When you send your professional CV in for a role, according to a study, it will be read for about 5.2 seconds and a decision will then be made on whether to shortlist you for an interview, or to pass your CV on to a hiring manager for a further CV review. This is why it needs to be short, sharp, concise and written in a punchy manner which is impactful and grabs the attention of the reader.

Avoid Excessive Information

When someone looks at your CV, it should have the right level of detail included, and be tailored for the role type you are applying for, especially the intial sections on page 1. Candidates often make the mistake of thinking that cramming all the information they can on a page will make a difference, and that the more information there is, the stronger their CV will be. This is not the case, and it nearly always has the opposite effect of putting employers off quickly by overwhelming them.

Remember, a professional CV is supposed to be a snapshot of you, not a full portfolio. You can go into great detail at interview but a CV is there just to open doors and conversations initially. Keep only the relevant information, edit it appropriately and remove any sentences which do not add value or unnecessarily elongate it with jargon.

Grab the Reader's Attention

You should have a Personal Profile at the top of your CV, which tends to be between 4 and 7 lines at maximum - within this initial blurb, you should really highlight your main strengths and capabilities in a robust way which will compel the reader to carry on reading your CV and want to know further information on your background. Identify your unique points if possible to emphasise it here as this may help to set you apart from other job applicants.

Adopt a Clear and Well Structured CV Layout

Remember, to pass the quick review 5 second test, you need to have a good layout on your professional CV. We always recommend a traditional structure and layout with good spacing, avoiding any columns, tables, fancy borders or images, as we have found from experience that these are not good for passing through ATS systems either. Unless you are in a creative field, such as graphic design or music for example, highly stylised designs and colours are not necessary as they do not have any impact on the effectiveness of a CV. It is what is written that makes all the difference.

Emphasise your Achievements

Once you have locked in the attention of the recruiter of employer, you need to keep this and showcase your skills and experiences as strongly as possible. Within your roles, hammer home any quantifiable metrics or targets you have achieved, and highlight any relevant professional training, certifications or qualifications that you have which may put you above the fierce competition.

Final Thoughts

Prior to applying for jobs, double check all aspects as mentioned above to ensure that you pass the 5 second rule test. It is absolutely essential that your CV is written properly in a way which is easy to read and clear.

You can use our free CV review and we can check your current document and give you some impartial advice on how to improve it. Ensure your professional CV captures the attention of the reader while being keywords optimsed for ATS, which will help to boost your employment and career prospects in the long term.

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Send us your CV for a free, no-obligation CV review within 2 hours. One of our experts will analyse your CV and contact you to provide detailed feedback along with their professional opinion on how it can be improved.