Confession time: recruitment is as much about quantity as it is about quality, and most recruiters work in a permanent state of overdrive to hit volume and placement targets.
As a result, successful recruiters are efficient recruiters: those who are able to quickly get through the huge stack of CVs sitting on their desks.
What does this mean for you? There’s no surer way to make a recruiter run screaming in the other direction than to hand over a multi-page monstrosity of a CV.
If your CV is more than 4 pages long or doesn’t follow a simple, easy-to-read format, you’d be well served by taking some time to simplify. The good news is: simple doesn’t equal plain, and it’s possible to have a sophisticated and nuanced CV without causing recruiters’ eyes to glaze over, beginning with these 5 strategies.
1. Use Grouping to your Advantage.
While reverse chronological CVs are certainly the most common – and preferred – CV style, you shouldn’t be afraid to tweak this tried and true format if you have a legitimate reason.
Professionals with significant project experience, consultants or sole traders with multiple clients, and people who’ve switched positions frequently within the same company are most likely to benefit from this technique, as it allows for a succinct summary of multiple roles.
The trick is to group responsibilities together whilst still highlighting individual projects and accomplishments.
My team does this by describing role mandates and common responsibilities in 5 or 6 bullet points, and creating a ‘Key Engagements’ or ‘Projects’ section with 1 to 2 bullet points per project to describe your role and highlight results.
2. Use the Russian Doll Approach.
I swear by this approach, because it allows me to subtly direct the readers’ attention to the most important experience, which is typically also the most recent.*
Think of your current role as the largest in a set of nesting Russian matryoshka dolls: because it’s the most important, it should take up the most amount of space – around 5 to 7 ‘responsibilities’ bullet points and 3 to 5 ‘accomplishments’ bullet points.
As you move further back in your career history, imagine each role as a smaller doll, and give it less space on the page. This will keep the overall length in check, while allowing you to give the most important information the detailed approach it deserves.
*Of course, this approach only works if your most recent experience is indeed the most relevant.
3. Master the Mandate.
If I’m honest, most long and complex CVs don’t have to be; the writer simply didn’t do a great job at presenting the information succinctly.
Considering you only have 6 seconds to capture a recruiters’ attention, its crucial you make the time you have count. That means putting the most important information for each role up-front, so even recruiters that stop reading past the first bullet point get a good idea of what you did.
Make the first bullet point for each role a ‘super bullet’ that includes:
a high-level overview of the role,
and the main target.
Here’s an example: Divisional leadership role [overview] driving market expansion across 5 APAC markets [mandate] to turn around financial performance and restore divisional profitability [target].