Writing a CV that Packs an Eight Second Punch

Recruiters reviewing candidates have a common difficulty: staying interested in piles of applications ...

Helga Edge
November 6, 2018

Professionals searching for the right candidate have a common difficulty: staying interested in the piles of applications set before them. In an analysis conducted by Microsoft in 2000, the ability to stay focused on specific information was measured at twelve seconds – in 2015 it had dropped to an alarming eight seconds!

What does this mean for the average applicant? Recruitment processes have moved on in leaps and bounds over the last few decades - gone are the days when potential employers sifted meticulously through every word of a candidate´s CV. Today, if it doesn’t grab attention in those precious first eight seconds, it is in danger of being consigned to You Know Where.

It is a fact that a CV written with professionalism and confidence will stand a considerably better chance of being read to conclusion. Getting all those qualifications and skills down on paper is vital to achieving a match. Of equal importance is to capture the imagination and interest of the reader in those first few seconds.

Get to the Point

Think about the role on offer. Decide on which top priorities the employer has and the skills he is looking for, and ensure these key elements shout from the page. Forget about flowery descriptions – this is no time for poetry.  

The Cutting Room Floor

Decent editors encourage their writers to get every major fact into the first paragraph or two. This means that if the item must be cut, it can be done quickly without losing the salient points. A good CV that delivers the right information from the first few paragraphs has the same appeal. Start with a well-written first copy, then put on your editor’s hat and weed out any ‘wordiness’ or fluffy descriptions.  


Know what the recruiter - employer wants and use this for your headline statement. Make his agenda work for you by selecting the skills and talents you have and placing them in a prime position. This is your brand so put it to good use, using both visual and textual information.  

Once you have captured attention, don’t be afraid to utilise graphs and other pictorial tools that work exceptionally well on a CV. The reader can retain visual information so much easier than the written word.  Consider the use of infographics: they are eye-catching, convey information at a glance, and you can create your own infographic economically from a free template.

Tailor your brand and establish your individuality with colour and style. For advice on how to personalise your brand, check out: www.personalbranding.tv/what-color-is-your-personal-brand  

Money, Money, Money

Whatever else employers are looking for, this is the where the magic happens, that warm glow that says: This person can add value to my business ... resolve issues ... bring fresh ideas ... make me money. Profit provides the starring role in every business so make sure your CV gives you the right billing. Use an example to show where you have enabled substantial financial growth in previous roles – show that you have the right money-making credentials.

It is important to put your achievements into perspective. If you increased sales by US$1 million over a year this is only impressive in relation to the size of the company, so make sure you state the previously expected sales to support your claims.

Your CV should market your skills and achievements, clearly show what you have done to benefit employers in the past, how your performance made a difference and the advantages a future employer would gain in welcoming you aboard.


Figures provide a solid endorsement for any claims regarding performance. If you improved profitability or productivity, show how your actions achieved this and to what level. Use percentages that give a precise indicator on how an organisation benefited from your decisions. This is a language that potential employers understand, so use it effectively.

Give examples that clearly outline the scale of improvements made, such as: reduced machinery downtime by 75% over a given period. Always remember to state the previous performance figure in comparison.  

It is interesting that you introduced an induction programme or an employee assessment system but this must be supported by a statement that shows how the company benefited from your implementations, the results and how they impacted that organisation.

While achievements are not always easy to quantify, the results of those achievements may be explained and supported with facts.

A well-crafted CV

The purpose of a well-crafted CV is to get you through the door of the interview room. It should be crisp and appealing, containing engaging content that is rich with solid, supportable performance evidence. It should be elegant, straight-forward and include information that is easy to digest in a language that is simple and direct: a tool that will accelerate your job search and take you on the path to a rewarding role at a higher salary.

For more information on how to approach and influence executive recruiters, see: http://www.aperfectcv.co.uk/articles/the-perfect-way-to-attract-top-exec-recruiters

Use Your LinkedIn Profile

The trend of keyword-skill-spotting is no longer as popular. Employers are far more likely to turn to LinkedIn for verifiable information on potential employees, so keep your LinkedIn profile current and in tune with the roles you are applying for. And remember, when tweaking your LinkedIn profile those first eight seconds are vital.

About The Author

Helga Edge MBA is a sought-after CV Resume and LinkedIn Profile writer. Since 1990, she has helped thousands of clients find not just a job but a rewarding career through LinkedIn and her website .. www.aperfectcv.com. Helga can be reached at helga@aperfectcv.com