7 Seconds to Impress!

Author Justin Byrne

Assessment

​With the UK unemployment rate still falling at a fairly steady rate, the job market these days is an encouraging place to be.

It’s a candidate driven market, which means that there are lots of companies hiring for lots of different positions – and there are NOT necessarily lots of unhappy, underpaid or demotivated candidates out there looking to fill these jobs.

Now, that doesn’t mean that as a jobseeker (whether tentative or committed) you’re able to rest on your laurels and let the opportunities come to you. Whilst that’s more likely to happen, with fewer candidates on the hunt you have to understand that each and every interview taking place is that much more serious – essentially, the competition is higher than ever, too.

And, as ever, it’s still possible to fall at that all-important first hurdle: the CV.

Unfortunately, the ‘7 second’ rule is still a real thing, despite favourable market conditions.

So what is the 7 second rule exactly? No, I’m not talking about dropping your lunch on the floor and picking it up within 7 seconds so it’s ‘still good’ – we’re talking about the length of time it takes for somebody to open a CV and, rightly or wrongly, make a subconscious yes or no decision.

Now, hear what I’m saying: I’m not telling you that people open a CV, scan it for a mere seven seconds and then say yay or nay, before closing it down and moving onto the next one. What I’m trying to reiterate is the importance of standing out in those first crucial seconds, of showing the person who opens your CV that it’s worth their time and attention.

First impressions truly count, and people often forget that the true first impression you make is that of your CV. You wouldn’t show up to an interview bedraggled, ten minutes late and then proceed to do your worst at explaining your skills and suitability (I certainly hope), so why would you allow your CV to let you down by being poorly written, or not containing the necessary detail, or even just looking… Well, a bit rubbish?

I can tell you from years of hiring my own employees, let alone dealing with hundreds of clients hiring theirs, that preconceived ideas are real, first impressions count and moreover, they’re extremely difficult to reverse.

A CV should be succinct but detailed. It should be personal, truthful and candid; equally, it should be relevant to the position you’re applying for – don’t write in your profile that you’re looking for a job in marketing when you’ve applied for my engineering role. If this means tailoring your CV each time, do it. Your CV should be punchy and eye-catching, without a garish design distracting from the content itself.

Don’t let a sloppily written CV give somebody the wrong idea of who you are and what you’ve done – unless it’s a positive one, of course. You want the interviewer to be excited to meet you, to discuss the many points that caught their eye, from experience to education and even interests.

Candidates – you’re not expected to know how to write a CV properly, which is where we come in. Not only do we know what makes a good CV in general, you can rest assured that we know what our own clients want to see hands-down – we know what experience to highlight, how to portray your strengths and how to sell you in writing. And, no, we’re not talking about ‘doctoring’ CVs; we’re talking about maximising your power on paper, the same way you’d put on your best suit and game face for the interview itself.

Clients – conversely, you can’t be expected to know exactly what to look for on paper. We’re trained to. When it comes to finding a ‘diamond in the rough’, it’s our specialism – looking beyond the typos and terrible Word Art to get to the skills and capabilities the person possesses underneath. But, rest assured, by the time the CV makes it to you, you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently get what you want and need to know from it.

No one’s falling victim to the 7 second rule here – not on our watch.​