Is Your CV Treated Like Junk Mail?

You’ve spent hours crafting what you think is the perfect CV, but ever wondered what happens to it at the other end?  When it reaches the recruiter?

Most people I ask think that their CV will be afforded at least 15 minutes of a recruiters time, to go through and digest all its contents.

The truth is, your CV will initially get a quick scan and if the recruiter thinks you haven’t got the skills and qualities required for the post, they will reject your CV at that point.  No 15 minute read here!

It’s much the same when you receive a leaflet through your front door at home.  You quickly scan the document for interesting info and to see if you ‘need’ it.  Then you may read on further or keep for reading later.

If it doesn’t pique your interest in the first 6 second scan, it goes straight into the bin, as is regarded as junk.  I do this daily with the deluge of junk mail I get through the door.  Double glazing – don’t need it, BIN.  Sheds – don’t need it, BIN.  Takeaway menu – don’t need it, BIN.

The same happens with your CV!  Not a good match – REJECT.  Spelling mistakes – REJECT.  CV long to read – REJECT etc. etc.

Your ‘good stuff’ need to be on the first page of your CV and up at the top so you make an immediate impact.  So don’t hide some of this ‘good stuff’ on the 2nd page!

Your CV is the equivalent of your ‘sales brochure’ – so sell yourself!  You need to make that impact.

A recruiter should be able to fold the bottom third of your first page under, and read the top two-thirds, and get a real sense of who you are, what you do, and what experience you have.  If it doesn’t, then it’s back to the drawing board!

Nobody is going to know from just reading your CV that you are hiding your light under a bushel, so let the recruiter know how good a match you are for this role.

Recruiters do this job day-in-day-out, and often will be recruiting for numerous positions at the same time, so time is crucial to them.

Many roles attract 100-150 candidates, so do the maths – it would be impossible to read every CV for 15 minutes!!

So, do yourself a favour by ensuring your ‘sales brochure’ really does capture your skills and talents and mirror and match the role you are applying for.

And, if you need a critical eye, I’ll always look it over for you and do a FREE CV review, and tell you honestly where it needs work and enhancement.

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How to Adapt your CV for a Specific Job

You should never ever send a generic CV in for a job role.  You simply have to up your game these days and stand out to be seen.

If you are smart, you will have the type of CV that is easy to customise.  If you haven’t got one like that, then I strongly urge you to consider my inexpensive but highly professional CV writing kit.

Once you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, then print off the job advert and arm yourself with a highlighter pen.

Go through the advert and highlight the essential words and phrases that you think are essential to the role.  The key point here is that their most required skills/traits are always towards the top of the advert.

Once you’ve highlighted the essential elements, ask yourself whether you have those skills they require for that role.

In your key skills area of our CV, you need to mirror and match what they are asking for – but don’t just copy!   For instance, if they are looking for a team player, you could put that you are a collaborator.  If they are looking for someone with attention to detail, you could put that you are quality-orientated.

Next look at the job spec and see what they require and again you are going to mirror and match that in your bullet points that you list under your career experience section, for each of your roles.

For example, say the job spec says:

‘Must have experience of working with Excel spreadsheets’

If you have direct experience of that, then write that as one of your top 3 bullet points.

Top-loading and front-loading

Most recruiters initially never read the full CV.  They skim, scan and scroll.  Therefore your ‘good stuff’ needs to be towards the top of your bullet points and the sentences have to have the ‘wow’ factor up at the front of the sentence.

Once you’ve finished customising your CV give it one last check over.  Go back to the job advert and tick off where you’ve demonstrated those skills.  Hopefully, you will fit the role 100%.

By doing this, I guarantee you’ll start to get more invites to interview, as you’ll match more closely the person they are looking to recruit!

The Truth as Far as CV Reading is Concerned

I can let you in on this secret as I was once the person doing the recruiting/reading!  As a former HR Manager and a graduate recruiter for many blue-chip companies, I can give you the reality of what really happens to your CV, once it has been submitted for a vacancy.

To set the scene, remember that recruitment is only a part of the HR Manager’s day.  At any one time, I probably had about 15-20 vacancies I was recruiting for (it was a national company).

Candidates think their CV gets read for about 15 mins.  It was easily possible that I got up to 100-150 CV’s for each post I advertised.  Let’s do the maths on the low end of that number.

100 applications x 15 (mins read) = 1500 minutes

1500 minutes divided by 60 (min) = 25 hours

25 hours x 15 (vacancies) = 375 hours

375 hours divided by a 40 hour week = 9.3 weeks!

There is NO WAY an HR Manager can spend 25 hours just reading CV’s.  And I certainly never took 9.3 weeks to recruit for 15 positions!

So WHAT DO they do?

Initially, they will give your CV the 15-second WOW test.  They will skim, scan and scroll and you have to grab their attention to get not the ‘maybe’ pile.

At this initial stage, they are looking to ELIMINATE candidates to get the ‘pile’ down to a manageable length.

And this is how you can get eliminated

1. Spelling and grammar errors (including getting the recruiter’s name wrong)!

2. A CV that is longer than 2 pages.

3. A CV that looks more like a novel, than a CV.

4. Cramped format, where the candidates have shoe-horned 3-4 pages on to 2, therefore leaving no white space.

5. A CV that jumps around, inconsistent dates and doesn’t flow.

6. A ‘generic’ CV that hasn’t attempted to match the job role on offer.

Believe me, that cuts the pile down considerably!

The Maybe Pile

Those on the ‘maybe’ pile, then get a longer in-depth look.  I used to get armed with two highlighter pens.  In front of me would be a job description and a person specification and the original job advert.

Where the candidate met my requirement list, I would highlight that area.  So ideally the CV with more highlighted parts on it, more closely matched what I was looking for.

I’d then do another ‘elimination’ round, and whittled the pile down to the 6 best candidates.

These would have been the ones that got invited to interview or passed to the Department Head for them to invite to interview.

So that’s the inside information.  I hope you can now see how important it is to make your CV bespoke to the role.  If you don’t closely match what the recruiter is looking for, you won’t get an interview.  And if you make the cardinal mistakes of spelling mistakes etc, or can’t say things concisely, then that says a lot about you too and perhaps the company might not want someone who waffles or has not got attention to detail.  Food for thought??  Hope so.


Did you know I offer a FREE CV review service?  Might be worth you running it by me before you send it off.  I’ll let you know if it will pass the ’15 second WOW test’!

Are You In CV Denial?

Are you in denial about how good your CV is? Hopefully, this article will enable you to decide 🙂

People come to me for my CV writing skills for a number of reasons, but the main one is that their CV is not opening doors to interview.  I’m always amazed when speaking to potential clients, as they think they are just unlucky in not getting selected for interview (rather than the real truth that their CV is not good enough!).   Sorry if that makes you wince!

Other potential clients tell me that they wrote it themselves and then had someone else look over it and the auntie/uncle/friend/mum said it was great!  My reply to them is, is your auntie/uncle/friend/mum an HR Manager or a recruiter?  If not, what would they know?  They are hardly liable to tell you that it’s terrible, are they??  But to be fair to the auntie/uncle/friend/mum they really don’t know what they are looking for, from a recruitment angle.

The definition of madness is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Clients do this and never have the concept that there is a right and a wrong way of writing a CV.   Most CV writers who are worth their salt will have a good ear to the ground about what recruiters are looking for, and more importantly will have a steady stream of clients who are getting an interview with their new super-duper CV’s.

So, are you in denial about your CV?

  • Are you sending it out and not getting the response that you expect?
  • Does your best friend say it is fab?
  • Are you sending it out and not getting interviews?

If any of those reasons resonate, it might be time for some plain-talking.

I offer a FREE CV review as part of my service.  I’m brutally honest when I write your report, but I do this from a heart-centered viewpoint in that I want you to get that job!  Lots of my clients have written to me afterwards to thank me for my report, because believe it or not, I write it specifically about your CV.  There’s no computer generated or ‘generic’ replies from me!  And I don’t add you to a mailing list and then bombard you with emails!

What have you got to lose?  Stay in denial in your comfort zone, or break out and get that job you truly deserve!

I was amazed at my report – I thought you would just give me a bland report, but it was 2 pages of great advice on how I could alter my CV to get my next role.  I took your ‘free’ advice and got a new job!

Thank you so much for looking over my CV, all your recommendations are fantastic.

To take advantage of my FREE CV review, email your current one and the type of job you are looking to secure next to

Or if you’d like a copy of my FREE ebook ’25 Top Tips for CV Writing, just click on the link on my homepage.

How to Target your CV


As a former HR Manager, when one of my Heads of Department had a vacancy to advertise, we would sit down and write a job description and a person specification.

That exercise is very interesting because those documents will be written in such a way that is gold dust to the applicant.

If I asked you to describe yourself to me, the first things you’d tell me would be the absolutely crucial traits that you’d want to convey. If we did that exercise for 5 minutes, the things that you’d say in minute 4, would still be relevant, but not as pertinent as the ones you said in minute 1.

The same goes for the person specification and job description. The things that are the MOST IMPORTANT always appear in the top 3rd of the page, and that’s the exact skills, traits and competencies that you should be ‘mirror and matching’ back in your CV or application form.

You want to get the recruiter to feel that you really ‘tick all the boxes’ so that’s why each CV needs to be tailored to each vacancy. That hopefully will get you on the ‘invite to interview’ list, rather than on the ‘reject’ pile.

The company gives you the clues … you just have to pick up on them!

Q: Do I need to write ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of my CV?

Answer:  My CV review service is very popular and on average I receive about 3 CV’s a day, for this service.  The ones that I received today all had something in common.  They had ‘Curriculum Vitae’ written across the top of the page.

These days, this is not necessary.  What is more important is to have your name as a header in a largish bold font so it stands out from the rest of the document.  After all, you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t you???

Does your CV pass the 15 second scan test?


You’ve finished writing your CV and feel proud of yourself.  It’s the right length, it has been spell-checked and you feel it beautifully represents you.

I now would like you do do the following….  Take your first page and fold the last third of the page backwards (so you can only see 2/3rd’s of the first page).  Read as much as you can in 15 seconds.

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes….

Does it WOW?  Does it represent who you are and give the recruiter the impression that you are the right candidate for the job?  If not, it’s time to go back and readdress the CV.  Your front page should be like a ‘sweet-shop’ window – full of enticing information that mirrors and matches the job you are applying for.

At this first stage of the recruitment process, faced with a stack of about 150 CV’s for each post advertised, the recruiter is looking to eliminate as many as possible.  Your job is to get on the MAYBE or YES pile!  If you don’t pass the 15-second scan test, you WILL end up being rejected.


Make your CV look like a ‘sweet-shop’ window!

Sweet Shop Window1

I always advise my clients that if a cv doesn’t grab the potential employer within about 15-20 seconds of reading it then you are unlikely to be asked to interview.

I also say this from experience – having worked as an HR Manager and read 1000’s of cv’s, I’ve seen my fair share of good and bads ones!

Imagine your first page as a ‘sweet-shop window’ – you want people to come inside and browse, so get your eye-catching stuff in that window to attract attention. Get the potential employer hooked and excited about the prospect of you working with them. You are much more likely then to get invited for an interview to expand on your skills and talents further.

Please don’t assume that your cv will be thoroughly read word for word. If an employer is faced with 200 cv’s for each position, they will skim read first and probably have a ‘no’ and ‘yes’ pile. The aim is to ensure you go on the ‘yes’ pile!

So, if qualifications are important for the position you are applying for, make sure that is front-loaded on your cv. If they are looking for particular skills, then alter the layout to make sure they stand out on the front page.

Your cv is probably going to look very different for each position you apply for (and so it should), so just remember ‘sweetie-shop window’ and get your ‘goodies’ on that front page.

Happy job hunting – and as always, if I can help you in any, please just ask!