How to write a CV that passes the 10 second test

Did you know that an employer will only read a CV for a few seconds before deciding if it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’? With so little time spent reading applications it makes sense that it has to hit the mark instantly and create a positive first impression. But how can you do that?

Your application needs to be written in such a way that it provides exactly what they need. Not only that, it should also be easy to find the right information – within 10 seconds no less!

Here’s how to write a CV that passes the 10 second test.

Use two pages

With a huge amount of experience and skills, and with qualifications as long as your arm it would appear a no brainer to roll over to three and even four pages for your CV. But no matter how much you have to offer it really shouldn’t take that amount of space.

If you want to pass the 10 second test you need to stick to two pages and cut out anything else which isn’t relevant. The employer hasn’t got the time to sit and read through pages and pages of information detailing your long and colourful work history. Your qualifications should also be limited to what’s relevant to the role, no matter how tempting it may be to include everything.

Use bullet points

Bullet points are a fantastic way of listing lots of information without having to write lengthy sentences. They are also very easy to read and allow the hiring manager to quickly skim through the CV to find what they want.

To pass the 10 second test you should look to avoid lengthy sentences and paragraphs. This doesn’t mean to say your language should be too abrupt, but utilising bullet points is a great place to start. Bullet points are the best way to list your tasks and responsibilities, and can be used to highlight your key skills and achievements.

Match keywords

The person who wrote the job advert is typically the one who also reads the applications and takes part in the interviews. As such, you need to pay close attention to the types of words used within the job advert. Better still, you could research the company and see what kind of buzzwords and phrases they like to use.

Using the right keywords in your CV ensures you instantly grab the reader’s attention. It puts you both on the same page and helps pass the 10 second test. The job advert will contain specific industry words for the skills or qualifications required. If you have these then you should ensure the words match. There is no point in using something different because they could easily be missed.

Lots of perfectly qualified people get rejected because they fail to right a keyword rich CV. They make it far too complicated and try and show off every single thing they’ve achieved. Instead, keep things simple and allow the employer to find everything within just a few seconds.

Write a personal statement

A personal statement at the start of your CV is a great way to instantly confirm why you’re applying and why you are suitable for the role. Whilst a personal statement alone isn’t enough to convince the employer to interview you; it’s still a great start.

It will act as the perfect introduction to your CV and persuade the employer to read on and find out more. Within those few precious seconds the manager will be able to connect the dots and take your application seriously. But remember to keep it short and concise if you want to make a positive and quick impression.

Highlight relevant information

If there’s one thing you can do which will help your CV to pass the 10 second test it’s this one. Highlighting your most relevant achievements is going to push you closer to an interview. With only a few seconds to read and establish what you have to offer, providing only the most relevant information is naturally the way to go.

Consider a complete overhaul of your CV so it’s tailored to the role and the company. In some cases you may be better off starting again from scratch so you can build and shape your CV around the role. Tailoring your entire application will ensure you are only providing relevant information. Every single word, sentence and paragraph should focus around the role and include industry jargon and commercial awareness.

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