Does your CV pass the 15 second WOW test?

Want your CV to ‘WOW’ the recruiting manager?  Then read on …

Last week we talked about the ’15 second WOW test’ and how important it is that your CV makes a good first impression.

The first page of your CV is also your ‘sweet shop window’, you have to make the recruiting manager want to turn the page and read more …  Just like how you would feel with a good book – not wanting to put it down 🙂

You only have two-thirds of the page to make an impact so let’s look at each part.

Name – big across the top of the page.  I would suggest 16/18 size font in BOLD.  Don’t write Curriculum Vitae across the top – everyone knows what it is these days.

Contact Details – directly under your name is your contact details.  Remember to include a link to your LinkedIn profile too.  Did you know that you can customise your URL and make it shorter?

Profile – please don’t call it a Personal Statement!  That’s what you wrote to get into uni!  Your profile should be 3-5 sentences long (no more) and give the essence of who you are, what you do and who you do it for.  Please don’t be tempted to write more as it won’t get read and if you overload your CV, it will just end up on the ‘reject’ pile.

Key Skills – pick 9 and make sure they ‘subtly’ mirror and match the ones that are required as listed in the job description 😉

Career Experience – here we get down to the ‘meat’ of what you’ve done and to show how you’ve got the key competencies needed for the role.

Thinking about the title of the job you are applying for, does your current job title match that, or will the company you work for be known to the recruiter?  Whichever is the best, start with that i.e.

Google, Marketing Assistant   OR  Marketing Assistant, Dale’s Supermarket

The dates should always go to the right hand side of the page (they are not vitally important pieces of information so don’t put them first)!

Remember people invariably don’t read to the end of the sentences or to the ends of paragraphs, so TOP-LOAD and FRONT-LOAD.  The good stuff should always be towards the top and to the left hand margin.

Under your title and company name write 2 lines about what the company does and who they do it for.  This gives the recruiter a sense of the width and breadth of the company and then judge your role within it.

Then write out your experience in bullet points.  This is not an essay for uni you are writing so don’t get carried away with lengthy paragraphs.  Front-load and top-load your sentences, putting the ‘WOW’ (what you achieved over and above) at the beginning of your sentence.  Quantify where possible.

At all times you should be referring to the job description and ‘mirror and matching’ back what they need not necessarily what you have to offer.

And that is how you achieve the ’15 second WOW’.


If you have a quick question about your CV, please don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

What is the ’15 second WOW test’?

In the last surgery advice I shared with you the secrets of how a recruiting manager sifts CV’s for interview.

Here I’ll reveal what they are looking for and what exactly the ’15 second WOW test’ is.

Take a copy of your printed CV and fold the bottom third of the page back on itself (so you only have the first two-thirds showing).  Now read the job description and the person specification for the job you want to apply for, to ensure you have a picture in your mind of the person they want (skills, experience, personality traits, competencies etc).

You have 15 seconds to read the two-thirds of a page and decide whether you match what they are looking for.  Do they think ‘WOW’ this candidate seems to have what we need?  If yes, your CV will be placed on the ‘definitely’ pile.  And if not, you’ll go straight on the reject pile (see last week’s surgery advice for clarification here).

It doesn’t matter that your 2nd page might demonstrate all the skills, experience and personality you think they need, that won’t get read during the ’15 second WOW test’.

So the aim is to get your front page looking like a ‘sweet shop window’ – full of enticing goodies!!  Your CV has to grab their attention at this point and make them want to read on.

In next week’s surgery advice I’ll show you how this is done, very easily.


If you need a quick question answering – please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Does your CV get read?

Ever wondered whether your CV is actually read by the recruiting manager?

Chances are, if they are inundated with candidates they will only do the ’15 second WOW test’.  (Some recruiter do it in less – 6 seconds).

As an HR Manager for a large plc I often had 10-15 vacancies that I was recruiting for at any one time.  Each vacancy drew in around 100+ CV’s.  Do the math(s).  If I spent 15 minutes reading each CV, I’d never do anything else!

100 CV’s x 15 m = 1500 minutes (= 25 hours)

x 10 vacancies = 250 hours (= 6+ weeks) just reading CV’s!

Here is what really happens.

The recruiting manager has a copy of the job description and person specification on their desk and will do a 15 second scan of each CV.  If it doesn’t pass the ‘WOW’ test it goes straight on the reject pile.  If however, it seems to have the key skills, experience and competencies required it will go on the ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ pile.  Working this way a pile of 100 CV’s can be sifted in 1500 seconds = 41 minutes.

The ‘definitely’ pile will then get a more in-depth read and either put on an ‘invite to interview’ pile or on to the ‘reject’ pile.

Approximately 6-8 candidates will then be selected.  If there is too few candidates from the ‘definitely’ pile, then the  ‘maybe’ pile will be read too.

So, your hard work may have gone unrewarded.  Sorry to have to break the news like that, but this is reality I’m afraid  🙁

Come back next week to learn how to get past the ’15 second WOW test’ and get a greater chance of being selected for interview.


As always, if you need help with your CV, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Quick questions are free!