Does your CV pass Pertemps’ six second test?

Creating a CV that will land you a job interview can be tough, especially if you haven’t had to apply for a new position in a while. With job applications increasing exponentially and up to 200 applicants applying for each role, it’s vital that your CV makes a great impression in just six seconds. Pertemps are recruitment professionals who have been helping people find temporary and permanent employment for over 50 years, and we spoke to one of their experts, Helen Hibbert, to get her top tips for creating a winning CV.

Use a template

"A CV with a layout that’s overly complicated or jazzy can be confusing to look at. Using a template that’s simple, sleek, and allows you to put the relevant information in all the right places can make a huge difference. When I’m talking to candidates who aren’t very computer savvy, I always recommend they use the Microsoft Word CV templates on their computer, or go to myperfectcv.co.uk. They have a range of templates you can use for free. When choosing a template, it’s important to think of the type of role you’re applying for. For an entry-level position, something simple is perfect. However, if you’re applying for a managerial position, employers might expect something a bit more sophisticated, that will allow you to include a greater level of detail."

Make the first few lines count

"The opening to your CV really needs to be punchy. A hiring manager or employer might have a huge amount of CVs to go through, so you need to make a strong impression straightaway. Your opening lines might be a summary of your skills, or the experience you have. Consider this to be your ‘professional profile’, and really hammer home what you’re great at."

Check your spelling and grammar

"Even for roles which don’t require much written communication, I can pretty much guarantee that if your spelling and grammar is poor, you won’t be considered for an interview. What this tells an employer or hiring manager is that you haven’t bothered to check for accuracy, so there’s every chance you might be lazy when it comes to other tasks! Even if you’re sure you’ve made no mistakes, get someone else to check for you ."

Don’t make it too long

"I’ve received CVs in the past that have been eight pages long, with reams and reams of writing. Not only is this difficult to read, it’s not necessary. You need to be able to outline your skills and experience in a concise way that will get the point across quickly. Of course, it’s not always possible to keep a CV to one page if you’ve had lots of experience, but definitely try to keep it to two pages. Remember, employers and hiring managers are more interested in your most recent employment details, so you don’t really need to include that job you had at Spar 15 years ago!"

Change your CV for every role you apply for

"This tip is really vital. A lot of candidates will submit the same CV for every role, which is a huge mistake. Research has shown that job seekers only spend just over a minute looking at a job description before they apply, but you really need to take more time than that. Really analyse it, and pick out the key words and phrases you think are most important. Then, alter your CV to make sure that you sound like a person who fits their brief exactly. Even if your experience doesn’t seem relevant to the role, normally, if you think carefully, you can pick out skills you've developed which may be impressive, like working in a team, or great organisation. The key here is not to rush."

Think about transferrable skills

"If you’ve worked in a particular sector for a long time, but you’d like to move over to another, you’ll need to think about what skills and knowledge you’ve learned in the past that you can bring with you to a new role. As an example, let’s say you’ve worked as a nurse for 10 years, but you’d now like to work in marketing; you’ll likely be able to confidently state that you work well in a team, have good communication skills, excellent attention to detail, and impeccable time management. Sometimes, it’s that kind of tenacity and creative thinking that employers are looking for."

After you’ve created your CV, you can register it with Pertemps, who might be able to help you with your job search.


Oxbridge are committed to helping anyone unemployed to gain the skills and knowledge needed to find a job. We’ve created a £100,000 fund to subsidise 20% of your course fees for any of our 250+ professional and accredited distance learning courses, ranging from teaching and childcare to counselling and bookkeeping. On top of this, you can enrol on our Job Ready Pack for free, which is a short course covering how to deal with redundancy, create a brilliant CV, and prepare for job interviews.