How Long Should Your CV Be?

“How long should my CV be?” A question often asked by candidates, as they try to figure out the ‘perfect’ length of a CV. 

Although there are now various ways in which you can apply for jobs and see opportunities presented, CV’s are still the traditional method of assessing candidates skills and suitability for a position. 

The ideal CV 

The ideal CV is usually considered at two pages long (maximum) featuring the key information reflecting your career and educational journey to date. These include:

  • Personal Statement
  • Key skills
  • Previous experience 
  • Education 
  • Hobbies and interests 

The elements above are necessary for your potential employer to gain an impression over your skills and experience and decide whether you would be a good fit for the position. The order of which those elements are listed is debatable, however, it is important to attract the attention of the recruiter or employer as soon as possible. This is why a short CV is usually best. Recruiters receive hundreds of CV’s each day and only the ones that stand out, will gain the attention of the recruiter or employer. 

The downsides of a long CV

Along with CV’s, there are also cover letters; which are a chance for you to express your passion, knowledge and suitability for the position. Your CV is essentially an effective advert; and adverts do not last too long. You have to be able to make an impression within the first 30 seconds of reading your CV in order to get your message across in a concise way. 

Recruiters and hiring managers want to be able to access the most important information as quickly as possible. 

A lengthy CV is therefore likely to do you more harm than good. If you’re not able to sum up your skills and experience in a concise way, compared to candidates that can, your chances of landing an interview won’t be very high. 

How long should your CV be?

As we mentioned before, your goal is to ensure your CV is two pages long. However, candidates will be at different stages in their career, so this isn’t always the case. If you’re applying for an entry level without much experience, then your CV isn’t likely going to be consumed with mass skills and expertise. If you’ve managed to gain a few years’ of experience then you should aim for summarising your skills in two pages. 

Always try to include only the most relevant facts. If you can communicate all the key information in a single page, that doesn't mean you've written a bad CV (although it may signify that you lack the necessary experience for more senior positions).

Longer CV’s are inevitable for candidates applying for senior positions with decades of experience; but the rule is still the same for them – two pages. It is recommended that you detail the most important parts of your career (relevant to the role) up to two pages or maybe three if needed. 

Tips on reducing CV length 

If you’re struggling to cut the length of your CV down, we recommend that you try these tips: 

Write a short (concise) personal profile

As we mentioned earlier, your cover letter is the ideal opportunity for you to express your suitability for the role in length. Your personal profile is a short summary of your experience and desire for the role. 

A short, sharp personal profile is an effective way to communicate your key skills and ambitions in a paragraph. It’s easy to then start writing a lengthy detailed account of your life story, but avoid this trap - at best it'll be ignored, at worst it could prevent the hiring manager or recruiter from reading on.

Don’t repeat yourself 

Try and avoid repeating yourself when writing your CV. Concentrate on making a point and moving on, rather than attempting to convince through repetition. If you feel like you can repeat a point in more than one section of the CV, ensure that it is worded differently but you are making the same point. 

Keep your experience to the past decade

This can be difficult if you have much experience, however, we recommend that you keep the experience on your CV that is relevant; avoid going way back if you can. Perhaps some of the skills you may have gained 15 years’ or so ago, have been outdated. Try and focus on your past ten years of experience, then summarise previous positions by the date, company and job title. 

The competition in the talent pool is at an all-time high, all candidates can do is ensure that their CV is in the best condition possible to be identified for opportunities.