A Client. Your CV has got just 30 Seconds to Impress me

Your CV
Your CV

Your CV Has 30 Seconds

A hirer says that your CV has only a matter of seconds to impress him or be binned.

Even in a good market, clients are getting dozens of CVs for each position advertised.

Agents will weed some of these out before the CVs gets to the client. However, reading all the CVs is just not on for a busy manager of an IT department.

So what does he do?

If he is anything like me, the first thing he does is to have an initial trawl through the CVs to try to narrow it down a bit.

I once got over 800 CVs when I advertised for IT graduates. I was never going to give them all 5 or 10 minutes each.

I went through them all, first of all, with just one criteria in mind and looking for nothing else on the CV. I looked for all of those with computer-related first class honours degrees and those with 2:1s. I also picked those with first class honours degrees in non-IT subjects.

I simply rejected the rest unless something managed to catch my eye that I liked.

Some people may think that this is unfair, but I just didn‘t have the time. I‘m just telling it ‘like it is‘.

Interviewer’s First Trawl

In the first trawl through of the CVs, paper or online, the interviewer weeds out at least 90% of them. That’s before giving the remainder a little extra consideration. Each CV will get 20 to 30 seconds.

In that time, I’ve got to find the skills and the experience that I want in your CV. If I can’t find it, it is deleted or binned, as I’ve got another 250 CVs to wade through.

I’d prefer not to go onto the second page to find out what I want on the initial trawl. I’m certainly not going to be going as far as the fourth or fifth page. Your ‘winning‘ information has to be upfront on the first page and easy to find.

So what am I looking for?

The skills and experience that I advertised for, stupid.

I‘m not interested in any other skills or experience that you have. If these other skills are on the front page, then they are taking up precious space. In fact it‘s an actual nuisance having to separate the wheat from the chaff as far as my requirements are concerned.

Customise Your CV

If I were to give you advice it would be that, on the front page at least, you should customise your CV for every single application that you make. Push the skills that the particular client wants up front.

Give yourself a chance!

The employer probably has only 30 seconds, at a maximum, to see it – if that.

By the time I was onto my second or third hundred of CVs, I can tell you that the time allocated to each on was getting even more severely restricted. That’s because my eyes began to suffer and my brain to become numb.

Do not clutter up the front page with your interests. I won‘t be using them. You might even lose the job if you are doing something that I think is a bit naff or stupid.

I might think that you would not fit in or might need to take time off to pursue your interests. Or you might end up in hospital or something.

Show Me What I Want from Your CV

If I want a C++ programmer, I‘m not interested in how much Java you have done. Similarly, if I want a Java developer, I‘m not interested in how much C++ you have done.

Similarly, if I want a business analyst in a financial area, I‘m not interested in the experience you have as a business analyst in the manufacturing area.

If you were a business analyst in manufacturing, bring to the fore the skills and techniques that you used there. Stress those that match the skills and techniques that I am looking for.

If we are looking for a Business Analyst with UML experience, play that up rather than the fact it was for a totally different type of company.

It is even more important nowadays to catch the eye of the client with your CV. That’s firstly because the client is receiving so many. Secondly it’s because clients are so precise when matching candidates experience with requirements.

Everything that you have on your front page (your selling page) should be of interest to the client.

Tick List from Your CV

In the first trawl through, the client is probably working on a tick-list basis. They are probably looking for those who have the skills they want, and rejecting the rest. I‘m sure that many CVs get rejected even though the people concerned had the skills. However, the client just couldn‘t find them all in the allotted time.

Do you know those puzzle pictures that children have, where they have to find a number of objects hidden in the picture?

That is similar to the task that a client who is trawling through CVs will have. They need to identify their ‘objects‘ (requirements) in amongst the clutter.

If you can remove a lot of that clutter, so that they can see your ‘objects‘ straight away, you will have achieved your first objective. That is getting onto the pile that will be given serious consideration.

If other clients are like I was, then this pile will probably consist of only 10-15 CVs. Out of that I‘ll select perhaps half a dozen to interview.

Therefore, if you manage to get onto the pile created after the ‘thirty seconds per CV‘ trawl, then you would have pretty close to a 50% chance of getting an interview.

Give yourself that chance!

Have a Practice on a Jobsite

Why don‘t you have some practice? Look at some jobs on a jobsite that are a close match to your skills and then look at your CV.

Now work out what the client is looking for and what he isn‘t.

Then look at your CV front page and work out what should go and what should stay.

It‘s quite easy, isn‘t it, and such an obvious thing to do – yet so few applicants do it.

If the client isn‘t looking for it, then it‘s clutter – and it will make his job of finding the skills and experience that you DO have, that he is looking, for all the harder.

Your CV is your sales document.

Sometimes my children will come and tell me that they can‘t find all the objects that are hidden in the picture, and ask if I could find them for them.

Your potential client won‘t give you that chance!