When it comes to your CV, size matters, the shorter the better.
The length of your CV can determine whether you get invited to an interview or not. It is therefore an issue that should concern every job seeker. This page will give you the reasons for keeping your CV short and more importantly show you how to do it.
How long should your CV be?
This is a very common question that many people ask, and that everyone has their own opinion of. It is an issue that has been pondered for years by jobseekers and is still a cause of debate across the recruitment industry.
The general and most widely held view is that it should be no longer than two sides of a A4 sheet of paper. It’s much better to have a short well written 1 or 2 page CV that will have a much greater impact on the reader, rather than a rambling long version that puts people off. Your CV should be well presented, readable and clearly laid out in a way that connects with its audience and tells your story without boring them.
There are however exceptions to the '2 page' rule. This can be because of the type of vacancy, or because of country differences i.e. if you are applying for roles in the US, you’ll need to adopt a ‘resume’ style, which is traditionally a one-page document.
Why your CV should be short
You have to look at it from the point of view of the recruiters, who can easily sift through hundreds of CVs a day, meaning they simply don’t have time to read anything too lengthy. Spending all day going through documents means there’s a real chance that at some point they’ll lose concentration. It’s therefor vital that you write something short that grabs their attention and, crucially, makes your CV stand out from every other applicant.
Employers just want to see that you are suitable for a role
They do not want your autobiography, or a list of everything you have done in our career, they just want a CV that is a summary of your most relevant, skills and experience.
Writing CVs is a skill in itself
It’s not something that many people can do well. Squeezing everything into a short CV can be time consuming, tricky and difficult. Every line you write must add value to your application. You should aim to keep it as short as possible, with just enough information to entice the reader to want to know more about you.
Going over 2 pages
There are always exceptions to the rule and in exceptional circumstances its acceptable to have a CV that goes over 2 pages. For instance technical, medical or academic CVs where it’s necessary to list publications and research papers.
1 and a half page CVs
Avoid writing a one and a half page CV, they can look incomplete and weak. It’s always best to have either a full 1 page or a full 2 page one.
HOW TO SHORTEN YOUR CV
Value the space on your CV and keep working on it until you’ve reduced it to the standard two pages or less. Here are some tips on how to do that;
Get straight to the point, there’s no need to write a paragraph when a short sentence will do. It’s vital that you find ways to communicate the same points more concisely. For instance, why write;
‘I am in charge of a team of 10 people who come from different social backgrounds’
When you could say;
‘In charge of a diverse team of 10’.
Leave out tired old lines like “works well in a team or individually”, that the recruiter sees repeatedly in different applications.
Avoid repeating the same skills or duties in different parts of your CV.
There is no need to break down every subject you did for courses you have completed. Instead just give a brief summary with dates etc.
Font size and type
Select a small size like 10 points, rather than a 12 point font. Also use basic book print fonts like Arial, Verdana, Calibri, or Times New Roman.
List different sections by having small heading rather than large ones.
Hobbies and interests
Avoid these as they take up valuable page space.
Ruthlessly cut out any info which is not relevant to the job you are applying for.
Front load your CV by making sure that the most important information is at the top of the first page. Remember that many recruiters will not go beyond the first page.
Squeeze page margins to free up more space, but remember that margins should be no less than about 1 inch on all sides.
Organise the page
Keep similar information together. Meaning the work experience should have its own section like the education field, they should not overlap. This will help to keep your CV organised.
Use a design and page layout that maximises your page space.
Keep these to a minimum, only list your name, address, mobile number and email. There is no need for your nationality or date of birth etc.
No need to include these, they will just take up space.
Previous / past work experience
Focus on your most recent career (last two employers). Your most recent roles should contain the most detail to highlight the value you can bring to a new employer. Recruiters do not need to know about what you did 10 years ago in great detail, so there’s no need to go into it. Instead for your past work experience just give a short summary i.e. job title, company name and employment dates.
Focus on including these only, and get these by reading the job advert (it will tell you what competencies the recruiter wants from a candidate).
Avoid this, there is no need to keep repeating the same skills, experience or points in different parts of your CV. If you’ve made a point well enough, you shouldn’t need to write it again.
Do not waste space listing referees, instead just add one line like ‘References – available on request’.
Build your own CV