Contractors, can your CV do the business in just seven seconds?

Real-time has engulfed the world of tax, financial data and even school buses. Patience has become a lost virtue, and everyone wants things now!

Well, not quite now but tomorrow at least it’s time for a real-time angle on CVs and you’re cordially invited to participate in what will be a first for us, writes Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors.

So tomorrow evening, Thursday June 27th at 7.15pm, we are running an online workshop for Contractor UK in which we will critique several Contractor CVs live -- during the session. You can register here:

As a warm-up to this session, and to ensure there’s no lag in your understanding of real-time, here are some parallels happening right now with the contractor recruitment process.

Recruiters also want it now!

We’ve all heard that agencies spend less than seven seconds reviewing CVs. I actually think this is a misleading statement; what we should say, is that you need to engage the recruiter and get their attention within seven seconds -- or they will reject your application.

To do this, the first line of your CV needs to immediately communicate that you are an appropriate person for the opportunity by using a ‘go-to-market’ description that mirrors the job title or contract spec. It’s a quick-win taking up only a second of an agent’s time who doesn’t have it to spare.

Then, the remainder of your succinct opening statement (Profile / Summary) should tie in with the key challenges that the company /end-user is facing. You were extra concise here, so only another two seconds – tops, taken from the agent’s time. So we’re up to three of those precious seven seconds.

Rapidly, let the agent then glance your list of Key Skills (in menu format). The time-pressed recruiter can easily and quickly cross-refence these with the job description or contract spec.

And we’re maybe up to four-and-a-bit seconds by now, but don't worry it’s the final sprint. End your page strongly with some hard-hitting, easy-to-scan achievements / outcomes that you have driven for your clients. These demonstrate to the speed-reading recruiter that you’re good at what you do.

You’re probably now on the cusp of the all-important seven seconds, but the recruiter in a rush likes you already. Now he or she has already decided you’ve definitely made the short-list, they can take an extra few seconds to go through your mini-case studies that you’ve outlined below the hard-hitting achievements using my ‘STAR’ formula. Three maximum, your busy agent isn’t here for your life-story.

In short, and to abide by the seven-seconds rule, we recommend front-loading your CV with all the juicy, totally pertinent stuff, so that even a bullet-like recruiter / hiring manager gets invested. And then compelled to read the rest of your CV.

ATS can get lost!

I’m sure this sentiment – above in bold -- is shared by many people, but I don’t mean ‘get lost’ as in go-away! What I mean is, ATS can get lost i.e. it can stop recognising the sections on your CV and the text that is contained within each section.

In order to help the ATS, you need to signpost it to find the right information. Software, too, doesn’t like being waylaid.

This simply means using obvious headings and keeping the formatting relatively straightforward. Adding a job title or skill after your name and describing ‘what you are an expert in’ are also good tactics to employ.

Call to action

Good recruitment offices are like the old-fashioned trading floors - lots of action, lots of phone calls, arms waving and bustle. Sorry, BUSTLE. Recruiters want things to happen fast and not being able to reach someone ‘PDQ’ when they want to speak to them about a contract is less than ideal.

If you’ve ever had several missed calls in the space of a few hours from non-loved ones, it’s probably a recruiter trying to contact you about a position (before a competitor rings you). Mottos such as “You snooze, you lose” are common within recruitment offices.

Being relatively easy to contact (via phone and email) and replying within a reasonable timeframe will certainly help grease the wheels to a positive relationship with key recruiters. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities because you weren’t providing a real-time response regarding your interest and availability.

Join me and my team on Thursday June 27th at 7.15pm to learn more. You can register here:

And if your CV causes you to pause – for thought, submit it to me to have it critiqued in real-time either before or during the session, please email it to The CV & Interview Advisors via with a brief note of what you’re after. I promise not to hang around! Look forward to talking with you tomorrow evening from 7.15pm.

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Linked-In-Credible. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Sign up to our Weekly Newsletter

Keep up to date with everything in the world of contracting.


Contractor's Question

If you have a question about contracting please feel free to ask us!

Ask a question