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It is important to know that a recruiter would not spend too much time on a CV so it should be kept as short as possible stating only the important details. As a CV is supposed to be a summary of your life, stating things such as work experience, educational background, and the likes in a professional manner, it should ideally be 1-2 pages long.

Writing a CV is a very important part of job hunting and there are some particular things you need to know about a CV before you write and submit one. One of such is how long a CV should be.

What is the ideal length of a CV?

This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to CV writing and while there is no perfect answer for this question, the most common answer for this question is that a CV should between 1-2 pages. In fact, according to a survey carried out among recruiters, 2 pages was termed as the ideal CV length. It is said that a recruiter spends only 7 seconds on a CV before deciding if it is worth taking a second at.

It is also important to note that it is not only your CV a recruiter would be going through and submitting a CV that is unnecessarily long would most likely make the recruiter lose interest. This basically means these 7 seconds are crucial in determining whether or not you would eventually nail that interview that would inch you closer to getting the job so your CV has to pack a punch at first glance. This also involves not going past the ideal number of pages.

This might not be possible for everyone, however; some might have more experience than can be covered in two pages while others e.g. recent graduates might only be able to come up with a CV of one page. If the latter is the case in your situation, there is nothing to be worried about. So long as you cover the basic points, you should be fine.

If you have a CV that is longer than 2 pages and you are looking for a way to trim it down to 2 pages and still retain all the important facts, you can follow some of the following tips.

Keep only relevant information

You should note that not all details of your life are to be included in your CV; you are selling to the recruiter in order to be considered for a job position not regaling them with your life history. 

That being said, only important things relevant to the job you are applying to should be added. You cannot be applying for a job as a doctor and add working experience from when you worked as a waitress. Other details like interests and hobbies that do not portray you in the best light possible to your potential employer should also not be added.

The recruiter is majorly interested in the knowledge you possess and how best this knowledge can be of importance for the job you are applying for not if you like singing or dancing.

In a CV, there is also no need to elaborate on your personal life. Keep it simple. Your name, contact address, email address, telephone number should be boldly stated at the top of your CV. Apart from LinkedIn, no social media account should be listed in your CV. Also, there is no need to state irrelevant things like your date of birth, number of children you have, your marital status, nationality.

If the recruiter wants to find out about those personal details of your life, he or she would most likely do so during the interview. There is also no need to lie or exaggerate about previous work experience and positions held. It is important to keep your CV as brief as possible.

Watch out for repetitions

It is one thing to hammer on a detail in your CV and it is quite another to keep repeating the same points. It is important to properly read through your CV to be sure that you are not repeating a point you have stated earlier.

Watch out for interchangeable adjectives, for example, if you have stated earlier that you are versatile, there is no need to also state that you can adapt to new situations. They are more or less the same thing and this just occupies unnecessary space and makes your CV more voluminous than it ought to be.

Get straight to the point

The recruiter already knows that the CV is referring to you and your past achievements or previous work experiences so remove unnecessary words like ‘I’, ‘a’, ‘an’ and the likes in places where they are not needed. For example, ‘I devised a working schedule and managed a team of 5 in my department’ can easily be written as ‘Devised a working schedule and managed a team of 5’.

The latter is more concise and straight to the point. It also conveys an active voice and authority as opposed to the passive voice the former conveys.

Listing work experience

Just like educational background, your work experience should be listed in chronological order i.e. from the most recent to the least recent. Listing job positions held a long time ago like say 15 years is not really necessary. This is because most jobs held during those times have now been made redundant one way or the other.

Recruiters always look out for a candidate that is following the trends and those who have recent and innovative knowledge that can be applied in their company. If you have occupied better and more recent positions since then, you can decide to leave the old work experience out of your CV. In your work experience, list out the roles you performed at the company in bulleted, short and concise sentences.

Leave out references and certificates

Except when absolutely necessary and in the case that it has been specified, there is no need to start listing out referees in your CV. You can just write “References would be available on request”. This way, if a recruiter wants you to provide one, it would be asked for later on. These are some of the things that occupy space in a CV.

Sometimes, the length of a CV can be also career and position sensitive

  • For medical doctors who would need to include all their work experience when applying for a job, it understandable if their CV surpasses the ideal 2 pages.
  • For a student applying for an internship position and for a recent graduate with no work experience, a CV of one page is ideal.
  • For someone applying for a job in academia, apart from the listed published articles or journals to be included in the CV, the ideal number of pages is 2. The listed published articles or journals can be added as an appendix.
  • For people in the construction industry with a lot of work experience relevant to the job that is being applied for, a CV that exceeds 2 pages would not be frowned upon.

If you are just a few lines away from or outside the page limit and you don’t have anything important to add again, you can try any of the following;

Edit again and again

There is no limit to the number of times you should read through your CV. Be ruthless with the editing and erase anything that is not remotely relevant to the job you are applying for- Concise wording is key when writing a CV. Doing this properly can help you cut down on some lines and bring your CV to the ideal number of pages.

Consider your document layout

Things like fonts and spacing are important when writing a CV. You should use a uniform font and in cases where you have one or two lines extra, you can just adjust the font, word spacing or margins.

When adjusting your font, you should make sure at the end of the day that it is presentable and still readable; a recruiter would not go through the stress of trying to make out the words you write in your CV. For the margin, always ensure to keep it uniform so that your document would not end up looking shabby and unprofessional.

Keeping important information relevant to the job so as to stay within the 2-page limit, however, is not advisable. If you have work experience that you think would be very much needed for the job, by all means, add it to your CV. Don’t disqualify yourself by leaving out important details. Having much relevant information is better than having too little and staying within the ideal page limit.

For an idea as to how to write a CV and the format to use, you can check out some of the CV examples. They have been written by professionals and are the perfect CV guide for you.

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Good luck with your job search.

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