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CVs and the 30 second test – how does your CV compare?

We are often told that a CV should be two pages long and no more. It is something that is drummed into us from the time we get careers advice at school and it is a rule that only some of us follow throughout our career. The reason given for having two pages is to ensure your CV is focused, contains quantifiable achievements and includes only information relevant to the role being applied for.

The two page rule is a good rule to follow however it becomes increasingly difficult as you move employer, secure promotions, gain more experience and learn new skills. Faced with this problem, most people tend to squeeze more text into the given space, creating a very cluttered and difficult to read document, or to start adding extra pages.

An article available on The Telegraph Jobs website called Does your CV pass the 30 second test?, written by CV Writers, has an interesting take on the topic of CV length. The article is based on research showing that most employers spend less than 30 seconds scanning a CV during the first sift, and that this could even be as low as seven seconds.

When you consider that most employers and recruiters work to tight deadlines, and that most CVs are only read for less than 30 seconds, it is worthwhile pausing to think about the attention span given to your CV.

The simplest way to make your CV more effective is to include a Personal Profile at the top, which summarises your key skills, employment history and qualifications, and to follow that with easily navigable headings that are clearly labelled. Information should be presented in bite sized chunks and you should have compelling and substantiated examples of achievements.

For more senior candidates, particularly in the legal profession, it is possible to add an extra page or two to cover all your key achievements. However, you must always bear in mind the 30 second test and your CV should never be cluttered or overflowing with text.

If you have any questions or queries about your CV or how to write one, please do not hesitate to contact Craig wilson or visit our website BCL Legal.

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