Make your CV last longer than Six Seconds

08 June by


The average recruiter, according to research, takes just six seconds to review your CV. That’s less time than it takes for you to log into your emails.

This may come as disheartening news for those who take hours transposing their professional lives into a Word document, but such are the demands of the industry.

Recruiters are looking for key pieces of information that will move your CV from the maybe pile to the definitely pile. They are looking for information such as job hopping, meeting minimum requirements and career progression.

Communicating these as quickly and as effectively as possible will increase your chances of progressing to interview stage.

Here are five top tips to taking your CV past its 6 second expiration.

Keep it Simple

Unless you’re going after a creative/design role, where a CV with a little more flair is acceptable, yours should be clean, simple and photo free.

Avoid using tables and columns as it can make your CV messy or cluttered. Simple is always better.

Structure your CV to follow a simple linear structure broken down into contact information, a summary, employment history and education. Recruiters are looking for those key features so make them easy to find.

Try to keep your CV just one or two pages. This won’t always be possible as some information – like project experience – simply cannot be cut or condensed. The rule of thumb is to be concise: extraneous detail simply won’t get read.

Where your employment history is particularly long, limit yourself to the most recent and most relevant positions. Each entry should also be no more than ten lines.

If you have a portfolio of work this should be kept as an entirely separate document to avoid confusion or your work getting missed. It’s also worth referencing where examples of relevant work sit in your portfolio to make it easier to find.

Skills Front and Centre

Whilst your employment history will cover many of your skills and achievements, a summary at the start of your CV will allow recruiters to glean vital information without having to trawl through the document to find it.

In no more than a short paragraph or half a dozen bullet points, highlight your years of industry experience, key strengths, significant professional achievements and any other information you feel is particularly pertinent.

This time saving device will give the recruiter a list to work from, making it much easier to see how those key skills relate to your experience.

Master your Employment History

Keep your employment history relevant and to the point. Potential employers will rarely want to know everything and if they do they’ll ask for it. Summarise each role in no more than ten lines using a simple three part rule:

  • What you did
  • Why you did it and 
  • The outcome

For example: Network upgrade roll out improving network speed to enhance company-wide productivity.

You can use a similar method with your skills summary at the start of the document. Needless to say, if you have numbers backing up the ‘why’ part in you should include them.

Keep Personal Achievements and Interests to a Minimum

As cold as it may seem, some employers don’t want to know about hobbies and interests, at least not at this early stage. Others consider it an important part of the hiring process. Both approaches have their pros and cons.

The truth is that our extracurricular activities provide valuable insight into your personality, passions, knowledge and skills that fall outside of your employment history.

Strike the balance and limit this section to two sentences or five bullet points maximum.


Spelling mistakes, grammar errors and using the wrong word are all mistakes guaranteed to switch off the recruiter.

Typos are easy to make, difficult to spot and have no place on your CV. Your CV must be perfect so proofread the document at least three times, taking a break between each read through to ensure nothing slips through.

If possible, ask a partner, friend or family member to read through you CV as well. In addition to spotting mistakes, they may be able to pick out areas that could be improved or key experience you may have missed.

Putting the effort into your CV gives recruiters and employers confidence in you and the accuracy of your CV.

Poor formatting, sloppy writing and inconsistencies through lack of effort or attention will scare them off. Remember, whilst recruiters will advocate for you, they also have a responsibility to find the best possible candidate for their employers.

Do all that and you stand a good chance of your CV making it past that six second window and into the hands of the employer.

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