Could your CV pass the 60-second test?

For years, HR departments and recruitment companies up and down the land have compared notes over the average length of time they spend reviewing an applicant’s CV. And yes you’ve guessed right, it is 60 seconds. So how can you get their attention and prompt them to read more?


The first thing to do is put yourself in the shoes of the person you are sending your CV too – in the case of an employer it will invariably be someone in the HR function, or if it’s a recruiter it could well be us.


Both HRs and recruiters receive countless number of applications for each role we manage and it is our job to identify those who most closely match the brief given for the role. But our time, like yours, is a precious commodity and as much as we would love to go through each application in fine detail, there simply are not enough hours in the day. So it’s a swift process and something you need to bear in mind the next time you think about sending your CV off.


To help stand out from the crowd, stick to these staples:


Limit your CV to two pages:

Anything longer suggests that you struggle to keep things concise or get to the point quickly. Your CV needs to be punchy and informative without it resembling your life story – save that for the interview.


Have a strong personal statement at the top of your CV:

And make sure it addresses the what’s-in-it-for-us-if-we-hire-you factor. Recruiters and hiring managers want to get a glimpse of what you could bring to the table if they hire you, so limit your opening statement to no more than 100 words.


Write your CV in the first person, not the third:

It can be annoying when we receive a CV that reads “Jane Smith is a highly motivated and commercial-focused practice manger, with X year’s of experience” – we know the CV is about you, so don’t be afraid to use “I”. This way you come across as a real person that we would want to engage with.


Tailor your application:

If you have ever recruited for a role yourself you will invariably have received applications that could have been sent to any law firm. Employers want to know why you are applying to work for them, so inject some of your knowledge about the firm into your application. For example, you could say something along the lines of “Following the recently published story in XYZ newspaper announcing the appointment of three new Partners, it is clear that your firm promotes from within and could potentially provide me with the opportunity to further my career.”


Imagine you are on a date

Recruitment and dating have been compared many times, and with good reason. Suppose you decided to go speed dating and you find yourself sat opposite someone you think you would really like to see again, all you have is just one minute to make a good enough impression to wow that person into seeing you a second time; that’s how you need to view your CV.


Highlight your skills that are relevant to the role you are applying for, demonstrate how your experience can make a difference to the firm and take care of your appearance – the odd typo here and there may not seem like a big deal to you, but believe us when we tell you it is hugely off-putting for recruiters and hiring managers.


We have worked in the legal sector for over 20 years, both as legal practitioners and now as legal recruiters. If you need any help or guidance on how to create an effective CV, then feel free to get in touch at anytime.