How much is your CV worth?

Are one fifth of people spending less than 10 minutes on a job application?

Most recruiters take seconds rather than minutes to evaluate your CV. Time is money, and recruiters’ time is valuable to their employers. However that’s no consolation to you. If you’ve spent hours buffing up your CV and application to make it the best it can possibly be, it’s very galling to find that it spent all of five seconds being ‘evaluated’ before joining the others in the bin. However, if you didn’t spend much time on it then perhaps that’s all it deserved?  Which is why we asked just how much time do most people actually spend on preparing their job applications?

When asking this question, we made it clear that time spent included drafting a cover letter, searching for more information about the role/company and updating your CV (presumably to tailor it to the job in question). We offered respondents the choice of up to five minutes, up to 10 minutes, up to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours and more than two hours.

High Angle View Job Interview At Desk

The (slightly) surprising fact was that 58% spent less than 30 minutes on each application.  Of these, 5% admit to spending less than five minutes, and a further 16% spent less than 10 minutes.  If this is replicated across jobseekers generally, then one-fifth of people are spending less than 10 minutes on each job application they make.

A further fifth spend up to an hour and beyond, which one would assume is the required time when applying for a job you’re serious about. The remainder (17%) then spends up to two hours and beyond.

Namely older people spent longer on their applications than younger applicants. Similar ‘stereotypical’ patterns appeared in some other areas of our results. Notably, those who are unemployed (38%) spend anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours more preparing an application than those who are either part-time (51%) or full-time (47%).

happy senior businesswoman looking at the camera

Equally interestingly, in that mid-range of 20 minutes to two hours prep, there were fractionally more passive candidates (i.e. those not seeking a job actively but who would be open to offers) than those who said they were actively job-hunting. This makes sense to as passive candidates, if motivated to apply, may well put in more time on their application because, unlike active candidates, this is something they do infrequently.

All of this begs the question, is there a correlation between time spent on job applications and getting the job? We’re going to go out on a limb and say YES. However whether or not the recruiter will allot the time necessary to look over your stellar application is another question entirely…


*Key stats:           Research carried out 17 Dec ’14 to 9 Jan ’15. For the question about time spent on job applications, there were 608 responses.

For the whole survey, the male/female split was 52:48; the age distribution was 16-24 (18%), 25-34 (24%), 35-44 (20%), 45-54 (24%), 55 and over (14%).

40% were in full-time work, 17% were in part-time work, 30% were unemployed, and 13% were students, retired or a homemaker; 67% were actively looking for a new job, 28% were not looking but would be open to a job offer (the so-called ‘passive’ candidates) and 5% were not looking for a job.

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