Your CV: 7 front page rules to hook your audience

You've got 10 seconds to hook your audience.

You’ve got 10 seconds to hook your audience.

When I discuss the topic of CV’s with hiring managers they say the old CV templates and content we see floating around today just don’t meet the needs of todays manager and/or recruiter.

In today’s increasingly fast paced world of business, when it comes to your curriculum vitae (CV) ‘less is more’ may be gaining popularity.  However – that’s not an invitation for you to compromise on quality! Quite the opposite.

‘Quality content is king’

Hooking your audience

You need to make your CV work more with less.  The front page must be designed to hook your audience.  It’s where the reader expects to see relevant experience aligned to their needs (advertised and researched). If you’re on message with their needs – they get hooked very quickly. They gain a sense of urgency to call you because you’re obviously in demand – right?

But – it’s always about time! 6 seconds of time!

Recruiters are trained to very quickly scan your CV for relevancy. They may decide to read on – or not!

There’s an abundance of research available online that says recruiters may spend around 6 seconds scanning your CV for fit.  Now, whether you agree with this or not, the message is clear; You simply haven’t got the luxury of a 30 second self indulgent elevator pitch paragraph anymore.

Read more about recruiter CV review behavior here

7 Rules

From my own discussions with hiring managers and results taken from an online poll the top 5 areas to include in the front page of your CV (in order of preference) are:

  1. Brief personal profile:  Note – this is not the old styled statement of ‘objectives’.  Briefly outline your recent experience relevant to the role at hand.  This 5 second read hits the highest priority hot buttons of the role and consequently grabs the attention of the reader.
  2. Recent Career Summary showing career progression. Role, company, tenure (including months).
  3. Key Skills and recent experience that you offer for the role – supported by evidence of application (not a dictionary meaning of a skill!).  Do not provide a bullet point list of single word skills on their own.  This says nothing.
  4. Qualifications and relevant certifications should be on the front page – not languishing at the back of your CV somewhere in the hope that the reader may actually get there.
  5. LinkedIn URL. Provide a URL address to your LinkedIn profile. Your CV and LinkedIn profile should be aligned to remove ambiguity, conflict and doubt.  If you haven’t got a LinkedIn profile you may be sabotaging your chances for those who do have a good one.  Your call!

    And then there are 2 often neglected – yet obvious ones…

  6. Photo? A contentious issue this one – and more of an exclusion than an inclusion!
    Should I have a head and shoulders photo on the front page of my CV? No Photo please. For some roles and perhaps some levels of management a photo on the front page of your CV (or resume) may be relevant.  However – it’s generally not regarded as beneficial on most CV’s. Surprising given that LinkedIn say a photo will generate 11 times more views?  Well that’s for LinkedIn, and it may not apply for the majority of CV’s.  One set of research reported that a recruiter will spend on average 19% of the total time spent reading your CV looking at your photo.  That’s not where you want their attention (unless you’re applying for a role that requires a photo).   You’ll note on the example below there is no photo.
  7. Contact Details: Enable the reader to easily contact you.  You may think this is an obvious one – but you’d be surprised at the number of CV’s I see that don’t have contact details on the front page.

Keep the layout simple

The layout of the front page of the sample CV below may seem somewhat simple – but it’s simple for a reason. It’s focused in it’s content and it follows the rules of hiring manager interest outlined in the poll results above.  Some recruiters may not like it – and some hiring managers may not either.  So irrespective of the templates you find out there (this one included) – you must think of your audience.  For example, a graphical design candidate will probably have a different approach to their CV’s front page to that taken by an engineer.

For all CV’s though – a non cluttered and logical layout for the front page (and subsequent pages) applies.  Your content must address the challenge, support your claims, and demonstrate a track record.  The message;

Keep your front page content sharp and compelling.  And it’s only compelling if it matters to the reader.

Sample Front Page of Your CV

The graphic below shows a sample front page for a CV.

The blue text indicates a hyperlink to online content supporting the candidate’s claims (proof) – linking to videos, online news reports and awards.  Move your old CV from the era of the typewriter carbon copy to being a smart, e-optimised CV that provides proof and is optimised for search results to win the attention of the reader and hook into the algorithms of an applicant tracking system.

I have two questions when reading the front page of a CV (and subsequent pages) and assessing its alignment to the hiring manager needs. If you can’t answer these two questions for each statement – don’t include it:

  1. Prove it?
  2. So what?

“This is what I need to see”
Dale – hiring manager

To close – your full CV should support the claims summarised on your front page – setting out more achievements and more detail. And you need to own the content. If you engage a CV writer please make sure they initmately understand the requirements of the role and you’re aware of the story and the linkages they create – otherwise you’ll fail at the next hurdle, the interview.

Take a look at the first page of your CV.  Will it result in a call?

You may also like to read:

Is The Traditional CV Dying? 

Eight Key Steps to Focus Your LinkedIn Brand

Just won the interview – so now what? 4 focus points.

Follow Craig McAlpine and

Twitter: @MyCareerBrand #MyCareerBrand






Contact: Phone: +64 21 666 807, +64 9 5222802 e-mail: Craig McAlpine's Linked In profile: MISSION Working with Job Search Candidates to build their go-to-market strategy, develop powerful marketing collateral such as their CV, LinkedIn profile and social media presence, and ultimately to secure a new role that is not only rewarding but also assists them on their career journey. EXPERTISE Career Coaching - LinkedIn Training - LinkedIn Optimisation - Personal Branding - Job Hunt: Go to Market Strategy and Collateral - CV design and preparation - Interview skills INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - Professional Services - Information Technology - Banking and Finance - Recruitment

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Posted in Applying For a Role, Curriculum Vitae
One comment on “Your CV: 7 front page rules to hook your audience
  1. […] As a background you might like to revisit an article I wrote in October 2015; ‘Your CV: 7 front page rules to hook your audience’. […]


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