The six-second CV
The time lapse between a recruiter picking up your CV and making that split-second yes/no decision may actually be a split-second – or six – according to a recent report by American-based job-matching service TheLadders. The study, which analysed recruiters’ eye movement and how long their eyes focussed on a piece of information, used special eye-tracking technology to take a new look at how much time is spent looking at candidates’ CVs, job profiles and applicant data.
The quantitative study analysed how thirty professional recruiters behaved when performing CV and profile reviews during a ten-week period, and drew some interesting – and at times surprising – conclusions. Not only were recruiters spending a mere six seconds looking at candidates’ CVs (as opposed to recruiter’s self-reports which suggested an average review of four to five minutes); of that six-second period, 80% was spent “gazing” at their name, current title/company and start and end dates, previous title/company and start and end dates and education.
With this short time period in mind, it means making an immediate impact with your CV or application is vital; and for this reason, a clearly structured layout should always be premiered. By making all must-know information easy to find, there’s a more significant chance that a few seconds may be available to peruse other information such as experience and skills. This is also where the personal profile comes into play, it can help communicate to a recruiter your current situation and aims in a succinct line – ideal when they are only looking for six seconds!
Calling in the professionals
Another thought-provoking finding from TheLadders study was that professionally re-written CVs (where candidates had sourced the help of a recruitment company or similar) had greater “usability” than those that didn’t have professional help. The research discovered that recruiters tend to follow a consistent visual path, and because professionally written CVs adhere to a clear organised layout, they were deemed more usable by the recruiters who partook in the study; with a 6.2 average rating (using a Likert-like scale ranking 1 to 7) compared to the 3.9 rating for those that hadn’t been re-written.
When it comes to assessing your CV then, it may be advisable to get in touch with a recruitment company or careers adviser that can offer some professional help and tips (some of our Jobs & Careers’ partners may even be able to lend a helping hand). Whilst some CV advice may be free of charge, others may require a nominal fee but it is definitely worth considering if you feel your CV isn’t selling you as it should. Even if you don’t call in the professionals, analysing your layout and getting friends or family to share their thoughts may help make your CV more usable to a recruiter.
Studies are all well and good, but without an understanding of what this means to your job-hunting practices then their findings can go awry. The sheer shortage of time that a recruiter spends surveying your CV should have a direct impact on your document’s logistics, so make your six seconds count.
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