CV Writers, in association with The Guardian Jobs, explain why recruiters cherish the first page of your CV over any further information.
Why the first page of your CV is the most important
With most recruiter’s skim reading a CV in less than 30 seconds, you need to think carefully about how you order the information. Ideally, give yourself a 2-page format to work from as this will serve as a good basis for what to put where and the material that can be edited out. Most attention is given to the first page of a CV. So, make sure you get all the really important information on your front page.
Position yourself to your target job title in the first line of the CV
You have got to get the audience to engage with your CV quickly. This is why a professional profile at the beginning helps. You should position yourself using the job title you are targeting in the first line. Bold the job title too to help it stand out. This means the reader can quickly ascertain the relevance of your CV as you have aligned it to what they are looking for.
Keep the profile short
Keep the profile to no more than four or five lines. Make sure you say something original and memorable about the personal qualities that define what makes you great at your job. Do not fall back on classic recruitment clichés such as ‘dynamic’ or has ‘excellent communication skills’. Who thinks they don’t have excellent communication skills? Say something different.
And after the profile…
The next section will be dependent on a variety of factors. For instance, if you are a fresh graduate with little or no relevant work experience you might opt to put your education section next and detail the modules, presentations and projects carried out as part of your degree. If you are transitioning your career into something new you might have an extended key skills section demonstrating transferable skills.
For most people, however, the career history section will go next. This is generally where any decision about calling you to interview will be made. Start with your most recent job and make sure that you demonstrate specific and measurable achievements. Recruiters love facts and figures as they are irrefutable evidence of you performing well. It is likely your career history will split on both the first and second page which is fine so as long as your most recent job is on the first page.
And for the second page of the CV…
Sections that would usually go to the back of the CV would be professional development and qualifications with an optional interest’s section. The professional development and qualification sections are less important as they are more of a tick box exercise on the part of the recruiter. You either have the qualification or not and it is not usually a unique selling point as many other applicants may share a similar level of qualification.
You can be flexible in how you order the sections of your CV so think about your strongest points and make sure these are always presented on the first page.