When it comes to CVs, it’s no secret that you don’t have long to impress. This can be frustrating when you spend hours on a CV, particularly if you send a cover letter too. Research taken place by ladders.com concluded that the average time spent reading a CV was 6.25 seconds, meaning you have very limited time for your CV to work its magic. In this blog, we run through whether your CV will pass the ‘7 second test’.

Be clear on what you can offer:

This can be stated in your personal statement, but make sure this is clear and concise. Highlight what makes you unique, what you can add to the company and how you’d fit in well with the team. This should only be 3-4 sentences long and MUST be customised to the role and company, you can find relevant information on the company’s website.

Personal details:

This may seem like stating the obvious, but as recruiters, we come across people missing details or providing incorrect details far too often. This can be adding the wrong letter or digit to a phone number or email address, or even having a previous phone number on there. Your application won’t go any further if recruiters or employers are unable to reach you.

Always add…

  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Full name
  • Email address


This is one of the most crucial parts of the seven-second test. Your CV needs to be a full page, or two full pages. One page is ideal so in order to keep it concise, ensure you don’t repeat the duties from previous roles if they are similar to each other and remove any experience from 15+ years ago that is irrelevant to the role you’re applying for. Add your recent experience first and try to use as many keywords as possible.

Always add…

  • The duration at each company
  • The company names
  • Relevance
  • Unique skills
  • Your duties (if applicable)

Education and achievements:

Employers will scan through your education to see how committed you were to your studies and the grades you achieved. Order from the most recent or highest grades you have achieved first. Achievements that relate to your career should always be mentioned in a way that is relevant to the company. As an example; ‘In my time at my previous employment, I was in the top 3 for successful salespeople out of 100 people in the company’ it is important to write stats and show quantitative and qualitative results you achieved. Don’t be afraid to show something unique about you, for example, I walked the great wall of China or I took part in the London marathon for charity.

Always add…

  • The name of the school/college/university
  • Years of starting and completion
  • What you achieved

Appearance matters:

Recruiters and hiring managers are sometimes looking through hundreds of CVs, so don’t have the time to look through in details, especially as they know exactly what they are looking for. If the recruiter or hiring manager then has to look through a crammed, untidy, no relevant information to the CV then they won’t make time for it. To avoid this, display information in a list or similar structure.

It can be frustrating when your hard-working CV doesn’t go any further, but take it as a lesson learnt that improvements need to be made. If you are a talented candidate, you will get somewhere.