Does your CV pass the 30-second test?

Think of all the things you can do in 30 seconds. You could make a cup of coffee, reply to an email, pick an outfit for the day or make a paper aeroplane. One thing you can’t do in 30 seconds is put together a decent CV. However, it is likely that this is the length of time that a recruiter will spend giving your CV an initial once-over. That’s why it’s key that you ensure those 30 seconds hold the recruiter’s attention and hopefully secure you an interview. Paying proper care and attention to your CV will help to avoid your CV being turned into a paper aeroplane itself.

Here are some top tips to passing the 30-second CV test:

Start strong

It’s essential that you make a good first impression. Include a professional profile at the start, explaining how you are the perfect fit for the role in just a couple of sentences. Pick out key pieces of information that tick the boxes included in the job description. Spend time on this. If you don’t immediately capture the recruiter’s attention this may be the only section he or she reads.

Stick to two pages

There is no point sending reams of information and examples. This will help you decide what to include and what to leave out. As you go along, ask yourself whether the information you are including will help you secure an interview. If not, cut it out. You don’t need to list every single qualification you have and every job you’ve ever done.

Keep it clear

Focus on the layout, using an easy-to-read font and clear headings to draw the eye to key areas of your CV. Use bullet points to cut out unnecessary waffle and to make the information included more concise. Don’t include long paragraphs of dense text as these will be off-putting and are likely to go unread.


Once you’ve done completed the above steps, give a copy of your CV to a few trusted friends or a careers expert and ask them to peruse it in just 30 seconds. What are their first impressions? Is there anything missing? Did they want to spend more time looking at your CV or had they already started making folds and seeing how far they could throw it?

Make any necessary tweaks before sending off your CV, ensuring that your contact details are up to date so that the recruiter can easily get hold of you if he or she is interested in inviting you for interview.


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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at and find her on Twitter @joyous25

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