Struggling to shorten your cv?
You’ve come to the right place.
On this page you will learn how to trim your CV without losing any of its power.
How long should a CV be?
For the best results as short as possible, ideally no more than two pages.
Because a CVs length is a big factor in grabbing a recruiter’s attention.
Essentially, the more information you put in a CV, the more difficult it is for an employer to find the skills and experiences they’re looking for in a candidate.
Longer CVs can also test a busy hiring manager’s attention span, something you do not want to do.
How to reduce its size without losing vital information?
Read on to learn how to make more impact with fewer words.
Why do people write long CVs?
One of the most common mistakes a jobseeker makes is to write a lengthy CV that includes everything but the kitchen sink.
There are two main reasons for this;
- Many want to show off and believe that including every little skill and experience in it will increase their chances of getting noticed.
- Others have long varied careers and find it difficult to condense everything into two pages.
What do you do if your CV is too long?
Below are tips and guidance on how to reduce the size of your CV;
Find out exactly what the recruiter wants and then give them ONLY that.
This is probably the best way to cut your CV down to size.
By writing a targeted CV that only includes what’s relevant to the job you are applying for you can leave things out that don’t need to be in your CV. Thereby saving yourself a considerable amount of space.
Here’s how to do this;
1 Read the job description
The job description is a goldmine of information that can be used word for word in your own CV. In it you will find details of the;
- Duties to be performed by the employee.
- Skill sets required from the applicant.
- Preferred and recommended qualifications.
- Experience needed.
All the above will give you a clear picture of what the employer wants in the ideal candidate.
2 Identify what the employer is looking for
Make a list of all the keywords and phrases that describe the abilities, skills, expertise and traits the recruiter wants. These are what you need to include in your CV.
This may not be easy all the time. Some adverts are generic, vague and unhelpful, but most are filled with juicy buzzwords.
3 Review your career
Find competencies that match the list you’ve just compiled.
Compile a list of these, as they must be included in the CV you are about to write.
4 Start writing your CV
Tactically include the skills, experience and qualifications that you have just listed.
What to watch out for
Avoid keyword pollution
Be careful not to overdo it with the keywords. Instead aim to carefully sprinkle a limited amount these around the CV.
Not just a list
Do not just make a long list of these keywords, instead insert them into well-crafted and supportive sentences.
Another great way to save space is to avoid repeating your abilities in your CV.
Despite being an obvious point, it’s one many job seekers still fall foul of.
It’s easy to mention a specific skill in your work section and then to emphasis it further, mention it again in your skills field or Personal Profile.
Who is at greatest risk of repeating themselves?
People who have worked in the same field for a long time
Jobseekers who have done similar work for different companies through their career will often have done the same duties in in many of them.
Reasons to avoid repetition;
- It uses up unnecessary space.
- Repeating yourself can send the message that you have nothing new to say about yourself.
- Can show you as a lazy writer who is cutting and pasting.
- Makes you appear unprofessional and boring.
- Makes every job you’ve done sound the same.
How to avoid repetition:
- Use the ‘Find’ tool in MS Word to search for the number of times you’ve mentioned a specific skill.
- Read your CV out aloud. It’s a good way to catch out repetition.
- If you find you have used a specific word repeatedly then use a thesaurus to check for alternatives.
The top part of the CV is a great place to write a brief introductory paragraph that immediately grab the reader’s attention.
It’ also a good place to save space, which you can do by only including your strongest and most relevant points and ruthlessly excluding everything else.
Aim to make your objective statement as short as possible.
- Ideally it should be no more than 150 words.
What to focus on;
- Your relevant skills, duties, experience and qualifications that the hiring company is looking for in a candidate.
- How you can benefit the company.
- Your credentials.
- Career achievements.
What to exclude;
- An autobiography, no need to write your life story, just a couple of sentences will do.
- Future plans
- Career ambitions
- Your desire to work for them
- How you look forward to hearing from them.
Use these instead of long-winded paragraphs, blocks of text or sentences.
They have other advantages such as;
- Making key information easy to digest.
- Quickly highlighting your strengths.
- Making a CV easier to read.
Reducing to a smaller size can save you further space.
Anything from 9pt to 11pt is acceptable.
Don’t make the text to small. You want it readable without forcing the HR Manager to squint.
Tip – Be consistent and keep the same size throughout your CV.
Old job roles
Another quick way to shorten any drawn-out CV is to only give very brief details of any positions you’ve had five, ten or even twenty years ago.
This is fine because prospective employers are only really interested in what you’ve doing now or within the last few years.
For anything over say 5 years old, all you should show is your job title, employers name, location and employment dates and perhaps a single line explaining your responsibilities.
OFFICE MANAGER – Start Date – Present
Employers name – Location
Responsible for managing a team of ten staff and ensuring the office ran efficiently.
Casual and unrelated previous jobs (i.e., paper rounds)
Leave out any previous minor positions that are not relevant to the job you are applying for. Instead have a statement saying;
“Previous employment history available upon request”
Use them to create space.
Most CVs are written from left to right which usually results in a fair amount of space on the right-hand side of the CV being left blank.
It’s therefore a good idea to use a quadrant system to divide the CV to make maximum usage of the different sections.
Just summarise these to the bare essential.
Simply give details of the institution when you attended and what grades you achieved. There is no need to give specific details of modules etc.
College name Qualifications Study Dates
Use one line instead of two
Look for opportunities to combine information into one line, such as your address and contact information, or your listed skills. Another example is combining your job title, employer’s name, and employment duration in one line instead of two.
Example – employer’s details
JOB TITLE – Employers Name – Start Date – Present
Example – contact details
Your name, address, email, phone number
Dayjob.com – 120 Vyse Street, Birmingham B18 6NF, T: 0044 123 456 7890 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Choose a minimalistic design template that utilises every part of a Word document.
Ideally one with no images, tables and little whitespace.
Keep your contact information to an absolute minimum by just including your name, phone number, email and the name of the city or town you live in.
There’s no need to list your full postal address, just the name of the City or Town will do.
Keep sentences brief
A good way to do this is to repeatedly re-read what you have written and see ways in which you could simplify it. Other ways to do this:
- Use your active voice.
- Find and get rid of redundant words.
Never use two words when one will do.
Hobbies and interests
Do not include this. Unless there’s something there that’s very relevant to the role you are applying for or a major achievement that’s going to impress the recruiter i.e. you played Football for England in the past.
Mercilessly get rid of content that is not directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
Do this my putting every section under a microscope to identify anything that may be surplus to requirements.
Always ask yourself;
- Is this relevant to the job description?
- Does what I am writing match what the recruiter wants?
Examples of unnecessary information;
- Your age
- Why you left your last company
- Your competence in everyday tools such as Microsoft Office.
Do not use common and overused expressions such as;
- ‘Works well with others and as part of a team.’
- ‘Always focused on the job at hand.’
Reducing these can free up more space.
However, try not to go smaller than 1 inch all around.
Minimise as much as you can.
In MS Word, manually set the spacing between lines and sections to as little as possible (without making the document look crammed).
Remove unnecessary ones.
There is no need for sections such as your Career Objective or contact details to have their own headers.
Do not give the names or addresses of referees, instead have a simple line saying;
‘References – Available upon request