When it comes to your CV, size really does matter.
The length of it can be the difference between getting invited to an interview or not.
Not sure what the right size for you CV should be?
This guide will give you expert tips and advice on;
- Deciding how long your CV should be.
- Shortening an existing CV.
In a CV less is more.
Employers don’t want your autobiography, they want a brief summary of your most relevant skills and experience.
That’s why a long CV can do you more harm than good.
Ideally your CV should be around 2 pages of A4 in length. This is because it’s universally considered better to have a well written short one rather than a longer rambling version.
That being said there are no set limits or rules as to how long it should be and some exemptions to the ‘2 page rule’.
WHAT EMPLOYERS WANT IN A CV
Employers do not want a list of everything you’ve done in your career.
The last thing they want to see…
Is a long CV jam packed with text from top to bottom, and by being trigger happy with your information, this is exactly what you will give them.
Hiring Managers (who have notoriously short attention spans) just want an easy to read document that they can quickly scan.
One size doesn’t fit all. Trying to get the delicate balancing act of not overdoing it and not underdoing it is difficult.
Here’s what you’re typically up against;
- “Too short, probably lacks experience.”
- “Too long, I can’t be bothered reading it.”
Too short, and it can indicate a lack of relevant skills and work experience, whereas too long and it can appear rambling, cluttered and over the top.
Confused?… don’t be.
Below are the main CV sizes available to you and clear advice on selecting the most suitable option for yourself.
One pagers are ideal for candidates with little or no professional experience. Having said that, some employers, agencies and head-hunters actually insist on receiving a one-page CV.
Suitable for job seekers who have;
- Only had one role in their career.
- Had very similar jobs in their working life.
- Just entered the world of work and no history to show.
- Been unemployed for a long period of time.
- Applied for Entry Level vacancies.
Mainly used by;
- Young people
- School leavers
- College students
- No need to write an artificially inflated 2 page CV if you don’t have much to say.
- A one-page CV can been seen as worth less than a two-pager.
- Recruiter may think you don’t have enough to say about yourself.
- Can be difficult to include all of your skills, experience and potential.
Do not write a one and a half page CV.
They look incomplete, give off the wrong vibe and make it seem like you’ve got nothing to say.
It’s much better to have a full 1 or 2 page CV.
This layout is ideal or most candidates with established careers.
It’s also the generally held view in the recruitment world that a standard CV should be no longer than two sides of A4.
It provides enough space to demonstrate your relevant skills and room to list specific examples of your abilities, something recruiters want to see. All without the risk of boring the reader with additional pages.
There are always exceptions to rules, and a 3 page plus CV is one of them.
Although not as often used as the others previously mentioned, these longer documents are suitable for candidates who are applying for specialist roles and who need the extra space to demonstrate their suitability.
It should also be mentioned that for certain roles, employers may ask for detailed evidence of a candidate’s competencies. Something that can only be done through supplementary pages.
Three plus page CVs are typically created when applying for academic, medical, scientific, creative and senior roles.
They are mostly used by;
- Medical professionals
- Directorship-level candidates
- Senior Managers
All of the above need more pages to show off their arsenal of;
- lengthy bibliographies
- long work histories
- professional qualifications
- published works
Repeated surveys have consistently shown that when recruiters first view your CV they only spend a very small amount of time looking at it.
They can scan it and decide on it in as little as 10 seconds.
Meaning that first impressions count, and an overly long CV can be naturally discouraging.
The last thing you want is for your application to be immediately binned because of the way it looks.
ADVANTAGES OF SHORT CVS
Avoids information overload
- You don’t overwhelm the Hiring Manager with reams of data.
Make the recruiters job easier
- With less content to shift through you can make the employers job more smoother. Something they will appreciate.
DISADVANTAGES OF LONG CVS
Shortage of time
- Recruiters and Human Resource staff are always pushed for time, meaning they have to decide very quickly if a candidate is worth considering.
- Hiring Managers have to typically shift through 100’s of job applications every day. They simply don’t have time to read anything too lengthy and that looks like hard work.
Key skills get buried
- You run the risk of losing relevant skills in all that text.
Can’t be evaluated quickly
- With so much going on it’ll be difficult for the reader to assess and find what they’re looking for, leading to them possibly feeling frustrated and giving up.
Reader loses interest
- Some people have short attention spans and can be put and quickly lose concentration in lengthy articles.
It bores the reader
- HR staff are human and can get put off by documents that looks boringly long.
Job applicants usually want to include every skill, experience, responsibility and qualification they’ve got in order to prove what they can do and impress a prospective employer.
The problem is the limited amount of space to do this in.
So, what’s the solution?
In the article below, we will discuss how to make more room in and cut out the waffle from your CV.
WRITE YOUR FIRST CV DRAFT
Begin by writing the first draft of your CV. Include everything that you feel is relevant to the job you’re applying for. At this stage of the process don’t worry about its length.
You now have something to work on.
NOW START EDITING YOUR CV
Use the below tips to tweak and condense it until you’ve reduced it to the size you want without losing any of your key content.
It’s vital you find ways to communicate the same points more concisely.
Your aim should be to make every word a sentence and every sentence a paragraph.
One way to do this is by continuously re-write what you’ve penned until it only includes the main facts of what you want to convey. For example;
Original long sentence:
- ‘At work I was chosen to lead a team of five fellow co-workers and supervise them for a specific project which lasted for over six months.’
- ‘Managed a project team of five, for a specialist program lasting six months.’
To write shorter sentences;
- Get straight to the point.
- Never use two words when one will do.
- Ruthlessly eliminate all unnecessary words and phrases.
IS IT RELEVANT?
Always ask yourself if what you are including is relevant to the position you want.
Tip; – If it doesn’t sell you, delete it.
By culling your CV this way, you will also;
- Remove irrelevant information which may detract from other key things about you.
- Obsolete information that has no direct bearing on the vacancy.
- Skills, qualifications and work experience more than 10 years old. If however, you want to include them then only briefly summarise them.
Avoid saying the same thing twice.
It can be tempting to highlight a particular attribute you have by repeatedly mentioning it in your CV, either word for word or in different ways.
For instance, if in the past you have had different jobs where the duties were very similar, then do not echo the same duties under every role.
Doing this can irritate the reader and adds nothing to your application.
MINIMISE CONTACT DETAILS
Another way candidates waste space is by including far too many personal contact details.
Employers do not need to see your full address etc at the initial stage of a job application.
All you need to give them is your;
- phone number
- email address
- rough location (just town or city name)
Cut down your CV’s personal profile to a few sentences, by rewording it until its short, sweet and to the point.
Remember, its aim is to give the reader a quick idea of why you are the best person for the job. Nothing more than that.
Therefore, remain focused on its key stages of;
- Who you are.
- What you can do for the company.
- How you will do this.
Prospective employers are more interested in the skills that you have obtained recently, rather than what you did 15 years ago.
This gives you an opportunity to save some room on your CV.
Trim your employment history to the bare minimum by focusing on your recent and most relevant experience and achievements. Do this by;
- Briefly summarising or even excluding your work experience if it’s more than 10 years old.
- For each of your past positions only give the job title, dates you worked and a one-line description of what you did.
- Not including minor and irrelevant jobs you did when you were a teenager, like paper rounds etc.
WHAT TO LEAVE OUT OF YOUR CV
The Title – There is no need to title your document as ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’, as everyone knows what it is.
Instead let your name serve as the title.
Also ignore, irrelevant personal information such as your;
- Headshots or other photos
- date of birth
- marital status
- religious beliefs
- Social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook for personal use.
There’s also no reason to give details of your;
- Reasons for leaving previous positions.
- Salary from previous employers.
Like with your career section, just focus on your recent and most relevant qualifications.
Do not include;
- High school exam grades
- High school subjects
- Degree modules
Only include those qualifications, training and certifications which you feel can help your case.
HOBBIES AND INTERESTS
Omit these unless they are highly relevant to the vacancy in question.
Remember, activities like ‘socialising with friends’, ‘going to the cinema’ and ‘reading’ are not going to make you stand out.
Leave out tired old lines like ‘Works well in a team or individually’.
Remember to not go over the top with your space saving.
One way to do this is to use a reasonable amount of white space to break up the text, as this can help the Hiring Manager to clearly read your CV.
Although it may seem insignificant, the size of your font can have an impact on your CV.
Too small and it will make the text look crammed and unreadable. Too big and it could appear tacky.
The best size to use;
If you’re having trouble fitting everything onto a page then consider using a still easily readable smaller font size of 10.5 or 11pt.
Whatever you chose, ensure it remains consistent throughout your CV.
Finally, after making any changes always check it can still be read without a magnifying glass.
Use bold and larger sizes of say 14 points for all headings as these help to create a font hierarchy across the document.
Only use a single line break between each heading and the body of the text below.
Consider reducing the margins.
But, be careful not to make them too thin, otherwise your CV could look too big.
To adjust your margins in Microsoft Word, simply click Layout – Margins – Narrow in your toolbar.
If you do shrink them, then ensure the gap is consistent all around.
Also remember they should be no less than 1 inch on all sides.
At this stage of your application, you do not need to provide the names or contact details of any referees.
A simple ‘References available upon request’ will suffice.