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One to One - 9 Seconds to Impress

9 seconds to impress

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Prospective employers spend just 9 seconds ‘assessing’ your CV before deciding whether to interview you.

A well written CV that stands out is crucial if you want to leap frog your fellow job seeking competitors to the top of the pile. After all it’s the only thing the hires sees, so it makes sense to present your self in the very best light that you possibly can. Here’s how to keep recruiters interested and sell yourself in 9 seconds…

The first second

Keep it concise. Nothing is more off-putting than reams of paper, an online page that seems to scroll down indefinitely, or endless prose without paragraph breaks. No one’s asking for a Haiku, but you don’t want to irritate the reader before they’ve even begun.

The second second

Keep it traditional. The harder you try to stand out, the greater the risk it backfires. You are unlikely to know the likes and dislikes of the person reading your professional back story, so maintaining a standard format and easy-to-read font (no calligraphy or coloured paper) is the best way to keep them focused.

The third second

Be relevant. Make sure your CV or profile makes it immediately clear why they need to carry on reading. If you currently have a job that gives you the perfect experience for your dream role, then it needs to be instantly visible – right at the top. If your current role isn’t an obvious stepping stone to the job you want - but you’re convinced you have the skills necessary to succeed - then make sure those skills are the first thing your prospective employer sees.

The fourth second

Don’t make them cringe. Avoid jargon. According to LinkedIn research on the top buzzword that appeared most frequently in member profiles was ‘motivated’ .

It was closely followed by ‘creative’, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘passionate’. Prove it, don’t say it.

The fifth second

Focus their eye. The chances are that whoever is reading about you is looking for certain phrases – soft skills, a particular job title or specific qualifications - that will indicate to them you need to be invited to interview. Use emphasis strategically to make sure that these words jump out by using basic text effects, such as bold, sidebars and larger fonts, selectively.

The sixth second

Be connected. LinkedIn is all about networking, but you can translate this to paper too. Highlight your social media credentials where they relate to work and mention relevant networking events you’ve been to that will demonstrate your commitment and contacts to a potential employer.

The seventh second

Be interesting. If you’ve sold them on your professional worthiness in the first five seconds, don’t be cast into the ‘reject’ pile because you forgot to mention your life outside. ‘Only listing generic hobbies’ appears in the top 10 CV faux pas, according to the National Citizen Service. So forget ‘culture’ or ‘socialising’. If you’ve run a marathon for charity, say it.

The eighth second

Forgetting to mention personal development is also a CV no-no, so think about key soft skills that a future employer would hope to see and that may set you apart from others. Good examples are public speaking or presentation skills. Highlight situations where your focus on self-improvement has helped you.

The ninth second Time up. Now you’ve won them over, be contactable. Make sure your contact details are clearly set out, up to date, professional (no dodgy personal email addresses) and that you respond promptly.

Now its time to write that winning CV.