Make a few small changes and increase your chances of success!

You only get one shot to make the right first impression on a potential employer. When you're job searching, your fate sits firmly in their hands. Make one wrong move and your CV will be tossed straight into the “no” pile. So, does your CV pass the seven-second test? 

In the following guide, we'll take a look at how long recruiters spend looking at each CV and how you can optimise your next application. Here's everything that you need to know.

How many seconds does an employer look at a CV for?

Think employers have hours to peruse every application that lands on their desk? Think again. When you send your CV to a company, the chances are that the hiring manager will spend a matter of seconds deciding whether you're a potential fit for the role. 

According to an eye-tracking study, recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at each CV - before deciding whether it's a hit or a miss. That doesn't give you very long to showcase your talents and let them know that you're the right candidate for the position.  

How to pass the seven-second test: CV edition

So, how can you pass the CV test? If you want to boost your chances of getting hired, you need to optimise your application. Luckily, we've got you covered here. Let's delve into a handful of ways that you can grab a hiring manager's attention in just seven seconds flat.

Avoid giving them TMI 

When a hiring manager looks at your CV, they should be able to get the information they need quickly and easily. If you've tried to cram too much information (TMI) onto the page, that's a recipe for disaster. The reader will take one look at your CV and feel overwhelmed.

For that reason, you should stick to the most relevant information. Tailor your application to suit both the company and the job role. Once you've written a draft of your CV, take the time to edit it. Cut out any sentences that don't add true value to your application.  

Hook the reader's attention 

Your professional summary sits at the top of your CV. If you want to hook the reader's attention, you can use this 3-4 line blurb. Kick things off by highlighting your top skills or achievements. The general idea is to leave the reader wanting to know more. 

Consider what you bring to the table that other candidates don't. That's a great place to start. When you've pinpointed your unique selling point, showcase it front and centre.  

Use a simple, clear layout 

If you want to pass the seven-second test, your CV needs to be easy to read. Choosing a simple, clear layout can help you in that mission. While you may be tempted to opt for a jazzy-looking design, that move won't do you any favours. Sometimes, less really is more! 

Highlight your achievements 

What achievements have you gained over the course of your career? Now that you have the reader's attention, you need to keep it. Your CV should tell your professional story. What experiences led up to this point in your career?

To pass the seven-second test, your CV needs to stand out from the crowd. Consider whether you have any specific training or qualifications that will give you the competitive edge. You may have won awards for certain projects, for example. Whatever accolades you happen to have under your belt, now is the time to shout about them. 

Pick your words carefully 

Word selection is vital. Before a hiring manager even looks at your CV, you need to get past the Applicant Tracking System. The ATS is software that ranks applications by how well they meet the job criteria. One of the ways it does that is by searching for keywords. 

Refer back to the original job advert for some inspiration. You can pick out any specific words or phrases that the company has used here. Include the words on your CV to give yourself a decent chance of getting past the ATS and being reviewed by a real person.

The Takeaway

Before you send your application to potential employers, make sure that it passes the seven-second test. CVs need to be well-written, easy-to-understand, and attractive. It's vital that you tick as many boxes as possible. Now that you've read our guide, review your CV now and make some simple changes to it. It could make all the difference to your job search.

Want to win over hiring managers? Make sure your professional CV captures their attention in a matter of seconds. Our expert-backed CV writing service is the perfect tool for you. Armed with a keyword-optimised application, you can give yourself a head start over the competition. Increase your chances of getting hired faster and boost your career prospects today.

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