What We Say

Making the right impression – and quickly – is vital for successful job applications.

The impressions part of the package

One of the most important things you need to know about CVs is that first impressions count, and if anything else your CV needs to be enticing enough to read. Surprisingly, most people, and even many professional CV companies fail to understand this. However, make no mistake, if your CV doesn’t look right as soon as the employer picks up your application from the pile, then it could go straight in the bin rather than pride of place on the shortlist.

Recent studies show that an average HR executive spends just seconds looking at a CV before deciding if it should go onto the yes or no pile. And rightly so. With sometimes in excess of 400 for some jobs HR executives and recruiters don’t have time to read every single curriculum vitae. Sometimes, they skim read, and sometimes they even reject CVs first impressions alone.

To help you out we have listed below some tips to improve the odds of your CV landing on the ‘ shortlist’ pile rather than the rejection pile after that first quick glance.

  • Keep you CV focused and legible. Is it easy to read, free from clutter with a consistent layout?
  • Use bullet points. They are easier for the recruiter or HR executive to interpret. If you use paragraphs (as many people do) there is not only too much information to absorb in one go, but significantly the clutter detracts your CV from being read.
  • Ensure that it is formatted correctly and professionally. Use a black, standard font such as Verdana, Arial or Times New Roman. You should also make sure that the font is a decent size. If the font size is too big on your CV can look odd or over the top. On the other hand, if your font sizes are too small than your CV becomes difficult to read. And again this adversely affects first impressions. You need to strike the right balance.
  • Similarly, it may be tempting to use a font that “squeezes” everything into one page to save space, but this will also make your CV look cluttered. As a general rule of thumb you should ask yourself if the font looks professional and easy to read. If it doesn’t, then there is a problem that needs addressing.
  • Keep it short – contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to fill every single bit of space. White space creates balance and makes your CV easy to navigate. Avoid long and cumbersome descriptions.
  • Use bold sparingly the rather than indiscriminately. Put headings in a larger font size and remember to be consistent. Every subheading should be the same size and style.
  • Use logical sections – make sure similar information is group
    ed together so that it is easier to understand, for example, “Work Experience”, “Education” and “Voluntary Experience.”
  • Give your document a sensible name – because most CVs are submitted electronically or uploaded onto a recruiter’s site you need to make sure the file name you save it under is practical, so a good first impression can be created before a recruiter has even opened your CV. Saving it with the previous company’s name that you applied to will not do you any favours!
  • Remember to check the application instructions. Some companies ask for a CV of a certain length, typed in a certain font, and structure to a particular format. It is actually quite rare when this happens, but if the job application requires your CV in particular format then you should adhere to this, as if you don’t the employer will almost certainly notice this immediately and your application could be discounted on these first impressions alone.

If you follow these tips you will have more chance of success of being shortlisted for interview. Remember, first impressions count.

<< previous – selling your case - an example Next – Things to look for >>