You have 7.4 seconds to make an impression

How to leave a good first impression.

Recruitment Tips

28 July 2022


Your resume is the first contact point with potential employers and your ticket to that first interview. Key research concluded by “Ladders Eye-Tracking Study”, shown that the average initial screening time for a candidate’s resume clocks in at just 7.4 seconds. It can said that employers and recruiters spend 6-8 seconds reviewing a CV before they decide whether it is suitable for a vacancy or not. 

With just a few seconds to make an impression, the focus should be on making the resume easy to read – use simple layouts and fonts, and avoid the temptation to cram as much information onto one page as possible.

Tips on the overall presentation of your CV

  • Bold job titles and subheadings throughout the document helps to catch the eye.
    Simple layouts and fonts with clearly marked sections and title headers. Spend more time focusing on job titles than on any other element.
  • When discussing accomplishments, short declarative statements are easier to process and therefore likely to be more memorable than paragraph-length descriptions.
  • The two-page rule remains for more experienced job seekers. The eye-tracking analysis demonstrated that an engaged recruiter will spend just as much time on the second page as on the first. However, time on the second page is strongly predicted by how compelling the first page is. Subsequent pages tend not to perform as strongly, regardless of how engaged the employer or the recruiter is on the first and second page.
  • While keyword relevancy remains important for getting a resume through to a recruiter, keywords that are used should remain in context.

Your guide to get your CV noticed

  • Avoid a front page with your name – it’s a waste of paper. Rather create a header and include your personal details like your name, surname, email address, phone number and LinkedIn link underneath the heading. Leave out information like marital status, ID number, address, health status, driver’s license and all that fluff, unless the job you’re applying for requires specific information, such as a driver’s license.
  • No need to add a photo on your CV, unless you’re applying for a job as a model. Should you wish to add a photo, make sure it is professional head and shoulders photo. If you are unsure if you should add a photo, rather leave it.
  • Under your contact information, start with an executive summary – short paragraph with a professional summary of your career, highlighting your experience and skills. Sell yourself from the get-go. Make that summary powerful so that the reader is enticed to read on.
  • Next up, your education & courses starting from the latest.
  • Starting from your most recent job have shown to attract more attention to your reader. Include a short career summary after education, listing the following information: dates of employment; employer name; job role; and reason for leaving. Give more detail on your experience and responsibilities underneath a work experience heading.
  • If you have done volunteering work, this is a good place to add it.
  • Achievements is always good to showcase your performance. This can be added separately or under each position stipulating your accomplishments during this specific employment period.

After completing your resume, make sure you re-read it, check your spelling and grammar, make changes and update it to your most recent job, ensuring you have included your dates and reasons for leaving.

Checklist for your CV Structure

  1. Contact Information – include area (no physical address), contact numbers, email address
  2. Executive Summary – overview and skills
  3. Education (starting from most recent)
  4. Career summary – list the dates of employment, employer and position (start from most recent)
  5. Work experience summary, this is where you elaborate on your employer, industry, products, duties and responsibilities.
  6. End off with volunteering work and/or achievements

It is important to put thought into the process of sending out your CV. Recruiters receive lots of CV’s per day, without any email content or subject line information. To top it off, the CV attachment gets emailed to a number of recruiters all at once. The impression you are giving is that no thought was put into your application. Don’t just send out your CV, hoping to get a job.

Applying for a specific vacancy

  • Applying via email: Always state the position you are applying for, with the reference of the position (if it was provided) and add your name and surname. Example: Application for Sales Manager – John Jones
  • DON’T just send your CV as an attachment! Write a summary/cover letter highlighting your experience, skills and qualifications you have relating to the position you are applying for. Limit this to 2-3 paragraphs or 150 words.
  • Adding your written references of previous employers would just be advantages. Written references should always be on the letterhead of the employer you worked for with contact details of your direct reporting manager. Do not list your current employer as a reference on your CV, as you don’t want to jeopardise your current employment. Exception to this rule might apply if you have spoken to your current employer and they are aware you are within the job market.

Giving CV’s out are not that easy. You must make sure your resume stands out. Put some thought into your applications. Remember, this is your first impression and you only have 7.4 seconds, make it count!

<strong>Lientjie Kloppers</strong> | Talent Acquisition Specialist

Lientjie Kloppers | Talent Acquisition Specialist

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