Have you ever wondered how long recruiters spend looking at the average CV? And why do some contractors’ CVs get forwarded to clients, and others end up in the bin?
We asked Simon Bichara, co-founder of HiredByMe how to ensure your CV stands out from the pack.
1. How long do hiring managers spend looking a typical CV?
Really not long. Often less than a minute – sometimes just 30 seconds. It’s a surprisingly small amount of time, but it’s driven by the fact that (a) hiring managers are really very busy (which is why they need to hire you; (b) there are often a lot of CVs to get through; and (c) after you’ve been triaging CVs for a while you get used to picking out the salient points very fast.
2. How do you make sure your CV is one that stands out?
Firstly – don’t do any of the things that might cause you to be rejected. Keep it appropriate – don’t send a handwritten CV on pink paper for an accounting role; don’t send a visually unattractive one for a design role. Keep it short – maximum two sides of A4, preferably one. Don’t make mistakes – spelling and grammar errors are instant rejects for most managers (“if they can’t even get this right…”)
To stand out, you then need to highlight and evidence your relevant experience. Never send a generic CV – take the time to understand the role and think about the skills that the hiring manager is looking for. Then make sure these stand out on your CV in plain language – if you think they’re looking for great written communication skills, highlight the steering committee presentations you wrote.
Even better, provide a way to evidence these skills. Of course, we’d recommend using HiredByMe.com for this!
Lastly – never, ever lie. With increasing levels of pre-employment screening you might well get found out, and that could have a materially adverse effect on your career.
3. What should a CV actually say about the candidate?
The objective of the CV is to get the candidate to interview and to provide a structure for interview questions. So the most important thing it should say is “I’m good enough to be worth interviewing” (ideally it says “I’m better than all the other candidates, so interview me first”). As we discussed before, the best way to achieve this is to make sure that your CV fits what you know the hiring manager wants, by highlighting your genuine, relevant skills and experience. And the best way to stand out from the crowd is to have evidence-based feedback on your previous job performance that supports the great picture you’re painting of your skills.
4. Do you rate covering letters? Are they important?
Managers vary. Some love covering letters, others (like me) don’t bother to read them. If you do want (or need) to write one, it’s an opportunity once more to highlight why you feel your skills are relevant to the role – but if you’ve spent the time to build a custom CV this should be leaping off the page already.
5. Doesn’t my agent already do a lot of this for me?
Some do. Some don’t. I’ve worked with a lot of reputable agencies – and yet a couple of years back we were hiring for a technical architect, and we received a CV for a building architect. It just goes to show you that the agent isn’t always providing the skill and attention that you, as the candidate, might like.
Always make sure you know where your CV is going; always make sure you know which version is going to the client; always make sure you’re in control. It’s your CV, after all.