Many jobseekers think that recruiters spend 5 to 10 minutes reading their CV. That’s why they try to include every single detail which leads to a very cluttered and overly long CV.

The truth is recruiters only use about 6 seconds (research done by theLadders) to determine if they should bother reading further. That means you need to catch their attention fast, and unfortunately a super long, super cluttered CV is not going to do that.

Here are our top tips for how you can catch a recruiters attention in 6 seconds:

1) Put your most important information at the top

If you are most proud of your education track record, then stick that at the top. Or if you do a lot of extra curricular activities that are unique and may interest the employer, and put that section at the top of your CV. Either way, you want the recruiter to find the information that is going to get them interested in your CV as quickly as possible.

2) Use a clean, professional layout

Many people try to be overly creative with their CV formats, which result in CVs that looks good but ultimately difficult to read. Make sure you have use a simple layout, clearly mark your different sections, and any “decorative” type of content is not too flashy that it distracts the recruiter from the information you want them to read.

3) Don’t use a photo

Recruiters tend to spend some time looking at your photo if it’s on your CV because pictures naturally draw the eye. And those couple of seconds is precious when you only have 6 seconds to catch their attention. Your photo distracts the recruiter from locating the information you want them to read for them to be interested in you. Also there is a lot of room for choosing the wrong photo (too unprofessional, too dark, too serious etc), so we generally recommend leaving out photos anyway. If they like your photo but don’t like your information, they’re not going to interview you. And if they like your information, but don’t like your photo, they might not interview you. So why allow your photo to reduce your chances of getting that interview?

4) Be concise

Ideally have a one page CV (graduates, you definitely should not exceed one page), or your could have two pages. If you can’t fit everything into two pages, you’re probably elaborating too much. The research shows that recruiters focus their attention on things like your company and job title, and then will skim read through the detail to look out for keywords that are relevant. So while having detail is important, realise that too much detail is just going to make it difficult for the recruiter to pick out what you are really saying.



Posted by Derek Toh

Derek is the founder and CEO of WOBB.CO. He was part of the pioneer batch for the Stanford-MaGIC Entrepreneurship Program, and is also a mentor for McKinsey & Company's Youth Leadership Academy. Derek is on a mission to revolutionise work culture in Asia. He cares about initiatives that improve education and the talent market. Derek is also a big fan of superhero movies, and has been told that he drinks too much coffee during the day.