James Reed, Chairman, REED Recruitment

CVs: Making every second count

On average it takes a recruiter just seven seconds to accept or reject a CV, so how do you craft a CV that grabs a recruiter’s attention and lands you an interview?

At REED we receive more than 600,000 applications every week from people looking for their next job, so it's not surprising that you need to make an impression quickly. My latest book, ‘The 7 Second CV’, will show you how.

Your CV has one goal: to beat the competition and land you the interview. You must convince the person reading it that you are the best person for the job. And above all, your CV must inspire trust.

Taking on a new person is always a risk for an employer, which means that mistakes and obvious exaggerations are a huge turn-off. An employer wants you to prove that you have the right skills to do the job, and importantly, that you will bring honesty and integrity to your work and the company.

The importance of having a solid, carefully crafted CV should not be underestimated. But there is a sea of mixed advice out there, which can often leave jobseekers confused.

That’s why I wrote ‘The 7 Second CV’ in a bid to help candidates perfect their CVs and land the job interview.

‘You never get a second chance at a first impression’

The seven-second rule might seem dispiriting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways you can amplify your skills and experience to stand out from the crowd. You just need to know what recruiters want - and more importantly - what they don’t.

So what do recruiters want? Well, I asked them.

In writing The 7 Second CV I consulted my network of hiring experts to find out what the decision makers really look for in a CV.

It turns out that recruiters are a pretty reasonable bunch and their needs are few. They want your CV to:

  • Tell them up front why you’re one of the best candidates for that particular job
  • Be clear and easy to read so that they can compare it instantly with other CVs
  • Bring out your mindset and personality

They also want you to keep your CV easy to read and avoid generic, over-used clichés. Remember that you want your CV to be interesting and not just another list of worn-out phrases like “team player”, which should really go without saying.

From my research, 88% of recruiters said they prefer a reverse chronological CV format, so make sure you’re prioritising your most recent work experience at the top and always tailor the content to the role you’re applying for.

You should be consistently referring back to the original job description, and considering: “Is my CV the answer to this problem?” Take each job you apply for on its own merit and think carefully about how you can best present yourself as the ideal candidate for the role. If you can’t see immediately how they match, chances are the person reading it won’t either.

The Fatal Five

Collating all the discoveries I made while writing ‘The 7 Second CV’ allowed me to compile a list dubbed ‘The Fatal Five’ - the top five CV misdemeanors most likely to land your CV in the ‘reject’ pile. In order of importance, these are:

  1. Lack of relevant work history
  2. Spelling mistakes
  3. Frequent job changes
  4. Not enough information
  5. Poor visual layout

Follow these rules to keep the recruiter’s attention on the thing that matters most: you.

Your CV should be a document you are proud to show people, that accurately tells your professional story. Spend some time following these tips to make sure you CV goes beyond seven seconds and lands you the interview.

James Reed, Chairman, REED Recruitment

The 7 Second CV by James Reed, published in January 2019 by Virgin Books, is available in paperback, on Kindle and as an audiobook.

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