How long should a CV be?

Does size matter? When it comes to your CV, the answer is yes…

CV length can be a crucial factor in determining whether or not you get the job. Think about it: if a recruiter has 100 CVs to go through in a day, there’s a chance that at some point they’ll lose concentration. So, the trick is to grab their attention – and, crucially, to make your CV stand out from every other applicant.

To help you keep it short and sweet, here are how many pages recruiters really want, and some of our top tips for reducing the length of your CV.

 

What’s the ideal CV length?

91% of recruiters we surveyed called two pages the perfect CV length.

Obviously, this might vary depending on your experience.  If you’re just graduating, for example, chances are you won’t have as much to say as someone who’s been working in an industry for 30 years.

Even so, you should always try stripping back to include only the main facts. If you can fit it on one page, then do it. If you can’t, two should generally be the maximum.

 

What’s the best font for a CV? 

When it comes to choosing a font size and type for your CV, it’s vital to keep it simple.

So pick an easy to read, black, size 12 font (such as Times New Roman, Georgie, Bell MT, Goudy Old Style, Arial, Tahoma, Century Gothic, or Lucida Sans), and ensure it remains consistent throughout.

It’s perfectly acceptable to make headings bold, larger (e.g. size 14-16), and even capitalised if it fits with the style of your CV.

 

How to reduce your CV size

 

1) Is it all relevant?

Remember: you don’t need to include everything. You’re advertising yourself for a role, not giving them your life story.

Take your employment history: while the paper round you did when you were 14 may have built your confidence, unless you’re going for the job of ‘senior paper delivery boy’, your employer probably won’t need to know.

The same goes for your interests. You may like eating out, and long walks along the beach but the reality is that the person reading your CV probably doesn’t care. We all enjoy socialising with friends.

Keep it pertinent and, above all, relevant.

Which parts of my education should I include on my CV?

Should I include hobbies and interests on my CV?

 

2) Are you just repeating yourself?

When writing a CV, it’s tempting to keep trying to make the same points.

But if you say that versatility is one of your key attributes, you probably won’t need to mention that you’re also flexible and adapt well to new situations.

We know that the synonym button is tempting, but be careful. Remember: If you’ve made a point well enough, you shouldn’t need to make it again.

Five lines that are killing your CV

What words should I use on my CV?

 

3) Are you afraid of the white space?

Nearly all recruiters will be skim reading your CV, so always avoid trying to cram as much information in as possible.

You need to grab their attention, and keep them interested. Presentation can be just as important as the content. Don’t be afraid of the gaps. Be bold. Use bullet points

Keep the focus on what you want them to see, and draw attention to any key facts or bits of information that may be relevant. Leave out everything else.

And whilst you may think that moving the margins and changing the typeface is a clever way around this, it’ll only make your CV stand out for the wrong reasons.

CV layout: dos and don’ts

CV layout examples

 

4) Are you using your cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter is essential for any job you apply for.

Your cover letter should be used to expand on your past achievements, and explain why you think you’d be the ideal candidate for the role. It’s also a great way to clear up any gaps in your employment.

Once again, there’s no point in recycling material. Use this space to clearly outline your objectives, underlining particular projects or interests that you think will make you stand out.

Free cover letter template

Cover letter help

 

5) Are you getting straight to the point?

As well as relevant content, there are certain words and phrases that you can do without. Write in the first person, but remove ‘I’ when listing points. The same goes for articles such as ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ etc.

For example, the sentence: ‘I was recently selected to manage a team of five co-workers. I supervised them for a specific project based task which lasted for three months’, can be shortened to ‘Managed a team of five, for a specialist project lasting three months’.

This not only reduces length, it also makes sentences more active, giving your accomplishments greater authority. Play to your strengths, but get straight to the point.

Free CV template

Does your CV pass the seven second test?

 

Final thoughts

When it comes to your CV, less is always more.

And despite the common CV myth that you need to include everything you’ve ever done in your application, adopting this approach will never end well. A recruiter doesn’t have time to go through pages and pages of information, hundreds of times over. Save them some time, and get straight to the point.

The same goes for lying – especially if you’re just trying to fill the page. If you’re confident in your abilities, there’s no need for embellishment. You’re not writing an essay, and there’s no word count. Only include things that are likely to help you get the job. Nothing else.

And, finally, remember: anyone who says ‘Size doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with it that counts’ is, almost always, lying.

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