Graduate roles can receive hundreds – if not thousands – of applications. This means that time-strapped recruiters don’t spend long reading your CV, even if you spend hours making sure it’s perfect. Here’s what guest blogger Andrew Fennell (the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV ) thinks your CV needs to do to pass the 10-second skim test – and what you need to do to get it there:
An optimised, impactful CV will grab the reader’s attention and tell them what they need to know about you, in around 10 seconds. Seem impossible? Don’t worry – it’s easier to optimise for impact than you think!
The reader knows exactly what you can offer
Underneath your contact details, you should write a punchy and persuasive personal statement about your university degree, any relevant experience, your core skills and your motives for applying for the role.
Graduate recruiters are looking for the right fit. They’ll have a checklist of things they need to see in your CV to put you on the shortlist. Therefore, before you set pen to paper, it’s vital to carry out some research.
Find out what the employer is looking for in their new recruit by looking over the job requirements, browsing their website and getting a feel for their company culture. It’s also handy to run a search for similar roles and list down any required skills or knowledge which frequently appear.
Then, you should try to match these requirements as closely as you can (without lying) in your personal statement. This forces recruiters to see that you’re a great match for the role as soon as they set eyes on your application.
A helpful tip! Every word counts. Avoid using generic clichés like ‘go-getter’ or ‘motivated hard-worker’. Recruiters have read them thousands of times – focus on hard facts, skills and experience instead.
Your relevant skills stand out
Underneath your personal statement, creating a snappy core skills section is a great way to show off what you can do in a simple, easy-to-read way.
Again, if you look back at the original job ad, you’ll see exactly what the employer is looking for. If they’ve listed skills Photoshop and video editing skills in the job description and you’re proficient in these disciplines, you’d list them clearly in your core skills section.
Two or three columns of 4-5 bullet points is ideal. This will take recruiters no more than a few seconds to skim-read and see that you’re a great fit.
Bullet points, bold text, and clear formatting
Recruiters and employers prefer CVs that are broken up into clear, signposted sections. They can find out what they need to know in a few seconds, as opposed to skimming through lots of wordy sentences.
Formatting can have a huge impact on the readability of your CV. Make sure to divide up each CV section – personal statement, core skills, education and experience – clearly, using bold headings.
You can make large blocks of information easier to digest by dividing it up into separate paragraphs, using bullet points where appropriate and using bold on standout words or skills.
Cut out the fluff and waffle
It’s all too easy to go into too much detail or pad out sections with unnecessary detail. But when it comes to CVs, more isn’t necessarily better – it’s actually going to make a busy recruiter switch off and move onto the next CV in their digital pile.
When you’ve written a draft of your CV that you’re fairly happy with, force yourself to be a little ruthless and cut out anything unnecessary, wordy or which doesn’t actually add much value. This ensures all the important information doesn’t get swamped down by irrelevant filler.
The less time a recruiter or employer needs to spend reading your CV, the better. Highlight the essentials, tailor your CV to the role and keep it brief. This is the best way to introduce yourself to the employer as a promising graduate, prove that you’ve got what they’re looking for and ultimately secure that interview.