Does your CV make a great first impression?

Did you know that the hiring manager only takes between 10-30 seconds to read a CV before they decide whether or not the candidate is worthy of an interview?

If you thought an employer would spend a few minutes reading every single word of your CV, you’d be very wrong. With so many CV applications to go through it’s understandable that a very busy manager wants to be as efficient as possible and narrow down the select few they’d like to see for an interview.

So how do you make a great first impression and make a positive impact within such a small amount of time?

1. Choose the right CV template

The ‘right’ CV template really is going to depend on the role you’re going for and how much information you need to convey.

If you’ve got 0 – 1 roles to include, a CV template that focuses on skills is likely to work best for you.

Skills based CV

Above – Skills Based CV Template (FREE)

Where you’ve got more roles to include, a CV template that places emphasis on work experience, and which is easily expandable, is likely to be most suitable.

Security Guard CV template

Above – Security Guard CV template (FREE) – this could be used for other jobs too.

2. Keep your CV to the point

Every word you write on your CV should be with the intention of adding value to your application. If a sentence can be shortened and still get the same info across, then reduce it. If you have a huge list of skills taking up a lot of room, then consider which are similar and may be combined. Are these skills relevant to the employer and the role?

Another great way to trim down your CV and get straight to the point is to consider how many tasks and responsibilities you want to include in your employment history section. Does the employer really need to see every single task you completed for every single job you’ve held since you left school?

The only way you can keep your CV on topic and with no waffle is to…

3. Keep your CV relevant

Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and consider what you’d want to see when reading a CV. Would you want to know what that person did 20 years ago as a waitress? Would it interest you to know that they like to read books and socialise on a weekend?

The hiring manager is only going to spend a few seconds reading your CV to see if you match up to what they want. The job advert has been written by the hiring manager and subsequently they’ll read the CVs that come through, so it’s common sense to assume that they will only be looking to see if you tick all the boxes.

The only way to grab the reader’s attention is to make your CV relevant – have the right skills, the right qualifications, and the right experience. A relevant CV will also contain industry specific jargon, to ensure the employer recognises your expertise and knowledge.

The hiring manager wants to quickly see that you tick all the right boxes and that you’ve paid attention to the job advert. Try to only include the information they would be most interested in, and if you do have prior roles that have no bearing on this one, keep the details down to a minimum so they can focus upon the key areas.

The only way you can keep your CV relevant is to…

4. Tailor your CV to the role

If you want to create a CV that will not only make a great first impression but will also make a positive impact is to tailor your CV to the role. It doesn’t matter if you are applying to different companies, even for different roles – you should always take note of the job advert and what’s specifically been requested.

However, there is also much more you can do to customise your CV to the role. You can also research the company and find out what makes them tick:

  • Who are their customers?
  • What product or service do they offer?
  • How long have they been trading?
  • How successful have they been?
  • What is the culture of the business?

Once you know the answers to these questions, only then can you begin to write the perfect CV. This kind of research shows passion and dedication, and will easily be spotted by the hiring manager within the first few seconds.

An employer will spot a generic CV from a mile away, usually with scorn – whilst the impact a properly tailored CV has is immeasurable. To stand any chance of grabbing their attention within the first few seconds you have to fully understand what they want to read and write your CV accordingly.

Right for the role: 5 ways to tailor your CV to the job description (by Job Help / Job Centre Plus)

5. Stick to a two page CV

A two pace CV is typically what most industries expect to see, with the exception of certain managerial roles, science based, medical, and so on – that may expect to see a huge list of qualifications, memberships, publications and previous work experience. But for most roles, a two page CV hits the sweet spot.

Unless you’re applying for an entry-level position, two pages is widely considered to be the perfect length for a CV.

However, that’s not to say writing a two-page CV should be your goal. Always strive to incorporate only the most relevant facts. If you can communicate all the key information in a single page, that doesn’t mean you’ve written a bad CV (although it may signify that you lack the necessary experience for more senior positions).

Michael Page Recruitment

Further reading

The top 9 soft skills to have on your CV

8 quick but essential CV tips

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