Wednesday, 9 August 2017

You have just 7 seconds to make your CV shine

by Simon Cauchois *

Your potential new boss spends an average of seven seconds looking over each CV before deciding who to interview, according to studies. That means you need to make an incredible first impression to stand any chance of making it through to the next stage.

There are several simple but effective ways for your CV to catch the recruiter's eye.

Put your best assets at the top. Start your CV with a summary of your top skills and accomplishments. This will grab the boss's attention and make the right impression. Many CVs start with data such as qualifications and work experience, so give yours the personal touch. Tell them about your strong skills, such as being great with people, your enthusiasm for your work and your unique selling points such as being a first-class website designer or imaginative sales assistant with an eye for window dressing.

Instead of just writing a list of your responsibilities in your previous roles, put your actual achievements. If you were the social media expert, instead of just saying that you had responsibility for social media engagement, tell them what you achieved. Say that under your supervision, social media engagement increased by 40% and your Facebook page had 1,000 new likes in three months.

You will need to customise each CV for the particular job you are applying for, as this makes it more relevant. It could be a simple cut and paste job to rearrange the information. You may want to emphasise certain skills or achievements above others. You may also need to rewrite sections to mimic the language used in the job advertisement or job description. Use powerful words to demonstrate what you have achieved. Sprinkling your CV with the occasion use of 'adaptable', 'innovative', 'implemented' and 'achieved' will add impact, but don't overdo it.

Make sure your CV shows an awareness of your field to show that you are up-to-date on any news or industry changes. If you have been part of those changes, mention it to show you are adaptable and can work out new strategies to cope with any developments. However, it is best to avoid jargon which is specific to your company. Firms often have their own internal names for customised software or technology which will not be known by anyone outside of it.

Do not include any personal information such as date of birth or marital status which could lead to discrimination. You also don't need to put your full address or include more than one phone number. Do not include any hobbies unless they are relevant to the position or provide an insight into your particular skills or positive personality traits.

You need to design your CV so that it looks attractive. Keep it simple with a type size and typeface which are easy to read. Use bullet points sparingly and do not complicate your CV with graphs or charts. Some companies use applicant-tracking systems which become confused by charts, tables or images, which could lead to your CV being rejected even if you are the best candidate for the position.

* Simon Cauchois is Managing Director of Recruitment in Accounting, Audit, Tax & Advisory at Piper Fitzgerald, a Specialist Talent Consultancy operating within Audit, Tax & Advisory Australia-wide, recruiting only the Top 15% of candidates. If you are currently looking to recruit for your organisation or are interested in current market opportunities, you can contact Simon at or call 1300 619 510.

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