Ch. 5: Prioritizing the essentials

In this chapter you will:

  • understand what employers really want to know
  • make it easy for employers to find that information first

It’s time to understand just what an employer is going to do with your CV. To do that, you need to know who is reading your CV – or at least, what is important to them.

Whoever reads your CV will be working under two main constraints: time and knowledge.

Time constraints

Most people are under time constraints at work; no one is ever going to take as much time to read your CV as you hope they will. This can seem unfair given the effort you are going to, but if you make it easy for someone to quickly see why you should be shortlisted for interview (or why your CV shouldn’t go in the bin), then all the effort will have been worth it.


If 100 people applied for a vacancy and each CV took five minutes to read, it would take the reader an entire day (without breaks) to read them all. That’s on top of their normal job.

It would take a week to get through 500 applications. What if there were four vacancies at once, not one? No one can take a month out of their job to do nothing but read CVs.

That’s why you’ll be lucky if anyone spends more than two minutes reading your CV. Even a whole minute should be considered a gift: many readers decide in seconds.


Time constraints are partly why many employers turn to recruitment agencies to help them fill vacancies. Hurray, you might think: an agency will read my CV properly! After all, that’s what they do for a living. But in fact it isn’t much easier for recruitment agents.

Reading CVs is most definitely a part of a recruitment agent ’ s job, but they also have research, interviews, client meetings, negotiations and internal issues to handle – and often they will be dealing with many different clients and vacancies.

So don’t be fooled into thinking that sending a CV to a recruitment agency instead of an employer – whether speculatively or for an advertised vacancy – means you can submit something longer or less finished. True, many recruitment agencies rewrite selected CVs in their preferred style (or that of their clients), but they may not bother rewriting yours and passing it on if they can’t easily see what you have to offer their clients.

Some companies save time by using automated CV scanning to sift through the first round of applications by computer, only giving real people CVs to read once this initial shortlist is over. This is also something you will need to take into account; more detail on this can be found in Part four, Targeting it carefully.

To suit time constraints, your CV needs to be brief and relevant...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

From Julie Gray, Senior Consultant at The Resume Centre, Get that Job with the Right CV will help to teach you how to write the best possible CV to land that perfect job.

It covers everything from layout and format, through to perfecting a jargon-free writing style, avoiding common pitfalls and tailoring your CV to different jobs.  Julie’s in-depth professional advice and friendly style will guide you through every step of the CV writing process with humour and practicality and give you real confidence to effectively showcase your skills to employers.

As a professional CV writer at The Resume Centre, Julie sees every single day which CVs really achieve results.  This puts her in an excellent position to help you to create a truly exceptional CV of your own.