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How Recruiters Read Your CV in 30 Seconds – Business Daily: Startups, Business Development, Management – Medium

November 30, 2016

How Recruiters Read Your CV in 30 Seconds

The recruitment industry used to be shrouded in a cloak of mystery. Nowadays, this is no longer the case — but one area that continues to cause difficult for candidates is writing a CV that really grabs a recruiter’s attention. In a job market that’s more competitive than ever, everyone is looking for the unwritten quality, that secret ingredient, that will get their foot in the door.

How does a recruiter read a CV? How can they fairly judge within a 30 second review? What is the mysterious combination of skills they’re looking for, and how can it be demonstrated?

The truth is, there is no secret process. Recruiters are human too, and they absorb and analyse CVs in the same way that we all process information. Ask any recruiter and they’d probably tell you that, with practice, they can conduct a preliminary review of a CV in a matter of seconds.

Our brains are wired to make split second decisions and form instinctive first impressions; recruiters don’t work any differently, they simply apply these fundamental instincts to their line of work. And it isn’t hard to see how effective this can be. If you were to read a CV with a typo in the first 5 words, how much confidence would this really give you in that person’s attention to detail?

With this in mind, then, part of your role as a candidate is to ensure that you give your CV every fighting chance to stand out to a recruiter; first impressions are harsh, but necessary.

So here’s a little insight into exactly how a recruiter scans your CV in 30 seconds, and the simple changes you can make to ensure it catches their eye.

15 SECONDS: Your Experience

Most Recent Role: This is a recruiter’s entry point for any CV — it paints a surprisingly detailed picture of the candidate. What’s their current status — are they looking for a job or are they recently employed? If they’ve sent their CV in, what are they looking for? In their most recent role, did the candidate get fired, were they made redundant, or did they leave after a few months — and what does this say about the type of person that they are?

Most importantly, your most recent role tells a recruiter whether you are qualified to take on the job — so spend proportionally more time making sure this segment says exactly what you want it to say.

Career Progression: Almost as important as your most recent role is the journey that you’ve taken to get there. Recruiters are looking for someone who’s career progression shows real ambition. They want to see candidates who challenge themselves, and they’ll be impressed by those who have taken on new roles, proved themselves, and then moved upwards again. They will also be looking to see if this prospective position seems like an appropriate move from your last role. A clear, focused career progression is one of the bedrocks of your CV, so make your past experience work to your advantage.

Employment Gaps: Believe it or not, gaps in your career can be your best friend — as long as you aren’t afraid to show where these gaps are and give an open accompanying explanation. You can use gaps in your career to show why you’re different — whether you’ve taken time to start a family, to travel and gain cultural experience, or to commit to a dream and started a company (even if you’ve failed), you’ll have learnt something from it that can set you apart. Gaps aren’t the problem — the absence of an explanation is.

10 SECONDS: Your Background

Experience over Education: This depends role to role, but in most industries names on certificates don’t mean as much as they used to if your experience allows you to demonstrate how you’ve filled your potential. Proving yourself by what you’ve done rather than what you say you can do will always win. Of course, this isn’t so much the case for entry-level graduate jobs where experience will always be more limited — but even then, it’s the candidates who distinguish themselves outside of their compulsory education who often leap out of the pile.

Be Human: Recruiters and employers know that you’re human, so try and use that as an asset rather than something you try to hide. If you can find a way to bring a little humour or personality into your CV, in a way that is both tasteful and appropriate for your industry, then you’re going to stand out from the other hundreds of candidates a recruiter browses through every day. But even more than this, it is the things that we do outside our work hours that not only allow us to connect with people, but also show real passion and enthusiasm. So don’t hide them, and don’t pretend that you don’t exist outside of the office.

Logistics: Does the location work — and if not, is it commutable? Can the candidate work without restriction, or would they require sponsorship? These are basic but fundamental details — make this information clearly accessible so the recruiter doesn’t have to guess.

5 SECONDS: Your Organisation

Overall Organisation: When done correctly, the layout and format of your CV should make a recruiter feel that reading it is intuitive, fluid and natural. You don’t need fancy formatting to do this!

It’s often said, but it bears repeating that organisation demands a lot of attention. Great structure, grammar and syntax can draw the recruiter in and give your content the best chance to stand out. Poor organisation can undermine any argument you make for having an eye for detail or being a clear and succinct communicator. Organisation may only be given 5 seconds of attention, but it’s the very first thing any recruiter will notice.

Relevant, Choice Keywords: Note — this is keywords, not buzzwords. That said, your CV is your opportunity to show a potential employer that you know what you’re talking about.

So including a level of relevant technical terminology in a smart, authentic way is your chance to reassure the recruiter that you know what you say you do. They’ll see plenty of CVs from candidates who just aren’t qualified.

In a competitive market, it’s imperative that you build a CV that grabs a recruiter’s attention. After all, it will be one of thousands they receive every year. It takes time to craft a winning CV — but this effort is surely worthwhile if it helps you on the road to landing your dream job.

Source: How Recruiters Read Your CV in 30 Seconds – Business Daily: Startups, Business Development, Management – Medium

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