How long should my CV be?

How long should my CV be?
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“How long should my CV be?” This is a common question that job seekers preparing a CV will ask themselves. You may even have wondered if the length of your CV matters at all. Well, the answer is yes, your CV length is actually very important and could be a critical factor in determining if you are called for an interview or not. Keeping your CV short and sweet, and filled with only the most important information is the best way to ensure it gets noticed.

I have mentioned before that when I am assisting a company with their recruiting process I can easily receive 100 – 200 CVs per day! You can imagine that reading through this many CV’s is exhausting, and at some point during the day I will start to lose concentration. However, even during these lapses in concentration I still find a CV that grabs my attention and captures my interest. Your CV needs to be one of these, and the length of your CV is a critical determining factor of whether or not it will be.

How long should my CV be?

So what is an ideal CV length?

Most recruiters that I have spoken to agree that the perfect CV length is 2 pages long.

It goes without saying that your years of experience is going to affect the length of your CV. A person straight out of university looking for their first job might even be able to prepare a one page CV. This is fine, don’t feel pressured to add useless information to try and make it longer.

And someone with over 20 years of experience might have difficulty fitting everything onto just two pages. However, by focusing on only the most important information it is almost always possible. Let’s discuss a few methods of reducing your CV’s length, as this is the most common problem applicants face when preparing their CV.

How to reduce your CV size

1) Keep it relevant.

Your CV needs to be tailored to the job description of each vacancy you apply for. I discussed this briefly in my article tiled CV writing tips to secure an interview. Remember to list experience and skills that are directly related to the vacancy and try to leave out non-essential facts. After all, you are advertising yourself for a vacancy, not giving the hiring manager your life story. There will be plenty of time to expand on this during the interview phase.

A section most job seekers commonly get stuck on is their employment history. People often feel that they need to list every job they have ever had, along with duties and responsibilities. The reality is that this is not necessary, so that pizza delivery job you had while studying, leave it off. And if for some reason you feel that you absolutely must include it, do not list duties and responsibilities for it!

Another section that I see taking up way to much space on many CV’s is the “Hobbies and interests” section. For most people, this is a useless section because your hobbies and interests do not have any relation to the vacancy which you are applying for. There are exceptions of course, for example, if you were applying for a Field Guiding position, mentioning that you are a passionate birder would be acceptable. However, if you just like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, leave it out.

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2) Do not repeat yourself.

I find CV’s are often littered with synonyms. This is just wasting space, if you have mentioned something once, or made a certain point do not repeat it. So, for example, if you have mentioned that you are a versatile individual, it would be completely unnecessary to add that you are also flexible and adapt to new situations.

Just make sure that when you make a point once, you make it well! This will eliminate the urge to reinforce it through repetition.

3) Don’t cram your CV full of information.

After answering the question, “how long should my CV be?” I often see people trying to cram as much information as possible into the 2-page recommendation. This is possibly worse than having a CV that is too long.

Try not to cram your CV full of unnecessary information. Keeping your CV to a two-page maximum is all about streamlining, not cramming. You must remember that the first time your CV is seen by a recruiter or hiring manager it will almost always be skimmed over. This is when you need the most important information to jump out and grab the readers’ attention as quickly as possible.

Presentation is key, and might be even more important than the content. Don’t be afraid of white space. Be bold and use bullet points where possible.

4) Use a cover letter.

Yes, I still maintain that a well-written cover letter is absolutely vital for any job application.

You do not want to just repeat the information that is already mentioned in your CV in a cover letter. Rather mention why you feel you would be the perfect person for the job and even discuss your future career goals. A cover letter is also a great way to expand on any skills, experience, achievements or projects that may be relevant to the position.

Use these links to download a free cover letter template or find out how to write a great cover letter.

5) Streamline your writing.

It’s not just unnecessary content that can be removed. Certain words can also be deleted and sentences streamlined. Removing “I” when writing in the first person is just one simple example. So instead of writing “I am a hard-working and dedicated person” just write “Hard-working and dedicated.” Doing this will not only reduce your sentence length but will also present your strengths as more active.

So less is more.

Well, I hope that I have answered the question “How long should my CV be.” I know that it is going to be tempting to ignore some of the pointers that I have mentioned. But trust me, recruiters and hiring managers do not have the time to go through pages and pages of irrelevant information. By listing only the most important information, and making sure that this information stands out you are going to be giving yourself the best possible chance of being called for an interview.

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