How to capture a recruiter’s attention in 6 seconds

3 minute read

With the sheer number of applications that job openings can get, it’s frustrating (but understandable) that recruiters spend an average of six seconds skimming over CVs and cover letters.

You’re probably thinking, what can they really gain in six seconds? That’s not nearly enough time to show off my skills. But you would be surprised what a recruiter can learn about you, when you direct them to the right information.

Forget shortening your CV, no you don’t have to reduce everything to a page or undo all of the hard work that you’ve put into your cover letter. Give recruiters a reason to take more than a brief look at your CV with these tips.

Organise your key words

Your CV is the gateway to your industry experience and recruiters want to capture that as quickly as possible. While the bulk of your CV is probably made up of bullet points of your experience, you have to formulate each sentence in a way that allows a recruiter to see that you have the industry knowledge and experience that they’re looking for.

This is where a summary statement comes in handy as it allows you to put specific industry skills and knowledge into context. Start by combing through the job description and take note of any key words, qualifications or skills that crop up. Pick out your strengths and make sure that they among the first things that the recruiter reads.

Tip: If you do have an personal summary at the top of your CV, don’t flood it with too much information – 100 words is more than enough!



Strategically use headings

Headings and subheadings allow you to arrange your CV clearly and concisely while directing the recruiter to the most valuable information. It’s like navigating someone through a website – you want this to aid their experience (not detract from it).

Take advantage of these sections by making them more relevant to the job you’re applying for. Instead of ‘Experience’, name that section ‘Fundraising Experience’. Don’t just list your ‘Skills’, change that to ‘Charity Sector Skills’. Simple tweaks like this can make a great deal of difference as you’re positioning yourself as the best fit for the role.

Tip: Struggling to fit in all of your past experience? Divide your CV into two sections – relevant experience and past experience. That way you can list all of your roles that are relevant to a specific job you’re applying for and have a simple list of job titles and dates for all of your other experiences.


Order your achievements by impact

It’s highly likely, for every job, you’ve listed the details of your responsibilities, the projects you lead and any major contributions that you’ve made to your past organisation. But that can all be lost in translation if you fail to bring the most impressive facts to a recruiters attention first.

If you were a recruiter, would you rather know that a candidate was responsible for leading a small team, or that they lead a team that achieved above and beyond their targets? Remember to include stats and refer to your organisations KPIs. Recruiters want to see more than a list of achievements, they want to see results. Once you’ve decided what to include, make sure that the most impressive facts are the first on the list and leave the more administrative/daily responsibilities at the end.

Don’t hide your personality quirks

CVs don’t have to be all about business. Sometimes it’s those quirks and intresting personality traits that make them take a second glance (and potentially get you a phone call).

Are you running any major side projects? Building a program or app to help charities? Ever run a marathon or planning to take part in the next iron man? These facts may not be relevant to the role you’re applying for but they’re definitely make you stick in the mind of a recruiter

Do something different

Now this may sound a little cliché but a bit of extra effort can go a very long way. When looking for a new job, Andrew Horner put an end to his job hunting troubles by creating the reverse job application. Instead of applying for jobs, he built a website that allowed employers to apply for him. Now while you may not have the time to build your own website, it just goes to show that a creativity can definitely pay off and make you stand out from other candidates.

Tip: There are plenty of great ways to turn your CV into a masterpiece. You could create a Prezzi presentation, give it a make-over or even make your very own video CV. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a reflection of who you are and don’t get so caught up in the flashing lights that you forget to share what it is that makes you right for the role!

And now that you have everything on paper, you should make sure that your CV is in perfect order before hitting that apply button. So here are some more helpful tips to help you do just that.

Have we missed anything? Share your CV tips in the comments section below!

Jade Phillips

Marketing Manager at CharityJob. A true bookworm and social media geek, you'll find me living in pockets of online communities. Unattended snacks might go missing if left around me...

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