Why Do I Actually Need to Reduce My CV?
It’s fairly well known now that employers don’t take too much care pawing over every minute detail in your CV. In fact, they barely look at them at all. Research from TheLadders.com shows that recruiters, on average, only spend 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s resume/CV before either accepting it or rejecting it and moving onto the next one. Now, this number isn’t entirely representative, as recruiters are likely to look over CVs a lot faster than actual employers and most in-house hiring managers, but it’s still a fairly telling bit of research.
The study itself involved using eye-tracking software on 30 recruiters for 10 weeks and also found that they spent 80% of the time reading the CVs looking at just six things:
- Current title/company
- Previous title/company
- Previous position, start and end dates
- Current position, start and end dates
The remaining 20% was using to look for keywords that matched the description of the vacancy they were trying to fill.
So your CV is going to need to be concise and clear without being sparse and lacking if it is going to catch the recruiter’s eye. Think of it like a film trailer, giving the highlights of the major motion picture which is your life. Something someone can just look at briefly and pick up everything they need to know about why they should hire you. This is why you need to really think about both the content in your CV as well as the way it’s presented:
When thinking about what information you actually want to put down on your CV, it’s best to put yourself in the shoes of the person hiring you. This person is going to be different for every job you apply for, will only be looking at your CV for a very short about of time and is going to want to see how well you stack up compared to the job description. Because of this you’re going to want to make it customised to the specific role you’re applying for and you want to minimise on unwanted clutter to make sure the best bits stand out. So here’s a list of some of the major CV clutter you should avoid:
Irrelevant Personal Details
This covers the obvious basics like religion, marital status, hobbies and interests. Also included though are things like which school you went to or what sports teams you were part of.
Similarly, no one wants to hear about the eating competition you won a year ago or that you’re a nationally recognised Snake champion – irrelevant awards are also a no-no.
Entire detailed job history and skills list
Your CV shouldn’t be an incredibly detailed compendium of your working life, accounting for every detail since that time you washed your dad’s car for a tenner when you were 10. If a job or skill isn’t relevant or it’s older than 10-15 years (like the ability to send faxes) then get rid of it, and focus on more recent jobs and specific skills to expand on your accomplishments.
Speaking of which, you should be listing accomplishments, not obvious tasks or duties. If you were a car salesman it sort of speaks for itself that as part of your job you would have to sell cars, so leave it out. Same with job descriptions, keep it short, sweet and to the point so you can spend more time on actual achievements.
Also references go without saying, so don’t waste space by mentioning how they’re ‘available upon request’
The second part of our patent-pending, two-pronged CV minimaliser is presentation. This is what ensures all that great content is usefully absorbed by that recruiter in the 6 seconds they took to read it. Without simple, clean and effective presentation, all that lean, concise content we’ve just put together goes to waste. So here are some sure-fire presentation tips to help you on your way:
Make it clear and readable
Walls of text are of no use to most recruiters as it means more effort for them to pick out the information they need. With less than 10 seconds to do this, paragraphs are a messy, inefficient way to convey what you want in the time you have.
Also in the spirit of making your CV clean and clear, get rid of any colours, photos, outlandish fonts and strange formatting. All they do is waste the recruiter’s time and make you look silly. Keep everything looking simple and minimal.
No one wants to hear how you had to “provide productivity and synergy solutions by utilising standard key-based ASCII external input devices and generating processed type data in order to promote cross-department task coordination”, so don’t say it. Don’t use needlessly fancy words or phrases when simpler counterparts will do. Of course, still let your character come through in your writing, no one wants to hire a box-checking robot, just avoid the vague jargon and filler and keep it to what matters.
Read through your CV, then read it out-loud and finally, get someone else to read it. What this does is firstly, strengthen the general flow of your CV by weeding out awkward phrasing and overused words. And secondly, it ensures that you don’t repeat, or rely too heavily on, certain achievements and experiences. This creates a much smoother and more refined CV reading experience for the recruiter or hiring manager whose hands your CV has ended up in.
That about wraps it up folks, just remember the CV minimalism mantras: ‘keep it clean, clear and simple’ and ‘sometimes less is more’.