The old saying goes that your CV gives you 30 seconds to impress. Unfortunately these days that’s wildly optimistic, with most hiring managers / recruiters spending less than that unless they see something that applies to them or sparks their interest.

So basically, yours had better be to the point.

Cramming your life’s experience into 2 sheets of A4 paper can seem like an incredibly difficult task, and siphoning out the unnecessary from the important is even harder. In my own experience I had initially tried to cram everything I possibly could to persuade, nay, force a hiring manager to pick up the phone.

The truth is that in today’s market 30 seconds to view a CV is more than you’re likely to get. The reality is that you are probably dealing with someone who has a few dozen CV’s to get through and not a lot of time to do it. If yours is lucky enough to get 20 seconds you can consider yourself extremely competitive in an increasingly difficult marketplace.

This may seem daunting however it’s an opportunity for you to gain an edge over other competing candidates.

Knowing that you have only 20 seconds (probably a quick scan over your 2-3 most recent roles) allows you to be brutal in cutting unnecessary terms. Most CV’s contain some form of clutter or focus on insignificant details that don’t sell what you can bring to the company to a prospective employer. Keep it focussed on this job, not you in general.

Remember that a CV is not a summary of your life, just your career. Any details which are not relevant to selling your experiences to an employer should be examined carefully and you should consider whether or not they should be there at all.

Using the right keywords can allow your CV to be picked up during searches, and a well organised CV can be the difference in you making a shortlist, or being passed over.