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CV Template – The ‘5 Second’ Test

Want to take your CV to the next level? The free CV template & guide will give you all the latest tips from recruitment insiders to give you the edge.

Have you ever been declined for a job based on only your CV, and thought you could have got it if you had made it to the interview? First impressions are important, and not just when you meet someone for the first time. Your CV is the very first impression an employer has of you, so you need to make sure that it is perfect. If you are applying for jobs in New Zealand, this handy guide is the ultimate CV Builder/CV Template for you to base your new and improved CV around.

When looking for work, it is crucial to keep the employer/recruiter at the top of your mind when building your CV. Whether through an agency, or internal recruitment teams, jobs listed often attract hundreds and hundreds of applicants. This means that somebody has to read over all of these CV’s in order to shortlist candidates they believe are suitable for the role. 

Let’s take a look at a job advert that has attracted 500 applicants. If the Hiring Manager (HM) spends only a single minute on each CV, the HM has over 8 straight hours of reading CV’s ahead of them. On top of this, due to the high desirability of living and working in NZ, large percentages of the applicants may be based overseas and are ineligible to work here. For these reasons, HM’s often simply do not have the time to read each applicant’s CV in every detail. Instead they have to quickly identify and organise CV’s into more manageable sizes, such as 20 shortlisted applicants. While everyone will have their own unique process, A CV should be designed with these recruiting pain points and the front of mind.

This led me to come up with a concept I call the ‘5 Second Test’. It involves curating a CV that can give an instant impression of you, your skills, and experience – in only 5 seconds. By designing a CV that communicates your key competencies in only 5 seconds, no HM will have to waste time on your CV, quickly identifying whether you would suit the role, and giving you a much better chance of making it through the first round.

Here are 5 tips to pass the ‘5 Second Test’

1. Length: 

First and foremost, the length of your CV is crucial. A 5+ page CV is an immediately off putting factor for any HM. Ideally a CV is 1 – 2 pages long, with the majority of important information contained on the front page.

2. Don’t Duplicate:

Avoid repeating information on your CV. When writing your personal statement ensure that you aren’t writing things already displayed elsewhere. This is particularly common in the opening sentence. Here’s an ‘example’ of two different versions of the same application, comparing their opening sentences.

Opening Sentence 1: “A recent graduate from the University of Example, I am currently working as an Example Manager at Example Ltd.”

Opening Sentence 2: “A highly resourceful and ambitious individual, focused on delivering results.” 

The first opening sentence simply stated what the work experience and education already said. Most HM’s are smart enough to figure out where you currently work, or whether you recently graduated. Instead use this valuable space to portray elements of personality or character that are not portrayed in the rest of your CV.

3. Bullet Points:

  • Bullet points allow readers to quickly identify key pieces of information
  • Bullet points are much easier to digest
  • Bullet points should be punchy
  • Use influential language to persuade your reader.

Bullet points allow readers to quickly identify key pieces of information. On top of that, bullet points are also much easier to digest. Remember bullet points should be punchy and you should use influential language to persuade your reader.

Notice how in bullet points, the information was processed immediately, however with the paragraph below, although it had the same information, was harder to read and process – ultimately harming your CV.

4. Don’t Be Fancy: 

Your CV doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t need a floral design or pink headings. There are a few reasons for this. The first is how easy it is to read. Black writing on white paper is, by design, completely opposite. Meaning the contrast between the two is very high, allowing our eyes to easily identify letters. Fancy designs can make it much harder for the HM to read quickly, putting them off your CV. Fancy designs also make it much harder for robots to read. Nowadays, CV’s are often automatically scanned and information is deduced from the CV to input into the Agency Database, or employers HR records. If your CV is full of different design elements, the AI can fail to recognise key pieces of information such as your contact information, or even name. 

The last reason is design preference is entirely subjective. If your particular design offends the eyes of the reader, it will almost certainly negatively affect your chances. Remember, until you meet them, your CV is you. If they don’t like your CV, they don’t like you. Play it safe and make your fonts easy to read, black on white with clear headings. A bit of colour here and there can be beneficial, but if you find yourself worrying over design, you are definitely spending too much time and energy on it!

5. Don’t Waffle:

Waffling is when you add meaningless words, phrases, and extra information in order to try and ‘fill in’ space or connect sentences. Ask yourself if each sentence is crucial with questions like:

  • Does this add any value?
  • Am I repeating myself?
  • Is this actually a strength, characteristic, or achievement?
  • If I remove this sentence, will I still portray key information?

The key is to be concise. Communicate as much as you can, in as little words as you can. Successful applicants will have plenty of time to discuss every inch of their CV with potential employers over the interview and hiring process. Keep your CV sharp and to the point.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when job hunting in New Zealand. Taking step by step action to improve your CV will ultimately pay dividends. If you want a Free CV Template Download to get a head start on your CV, click the button below and download the CV Template PDF! 

The last tip when applying for jobs is DO NOT get discouraged by rejected applications. There are a million reasons why a company may not employ you, including advertising positions but always planning on filling internally, a close connection to the HM (ie nepotism), or even deciding not to hire anyone. Stay positive and keep applying! When you finally land the job you love, you will be glad you were rejected for all the previous applications!

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