How long should a CV be?

The length of your CV can make or break your chances of landing that dream job. Discover what the optimal length for your UK CV is and learn how to make every word count.


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How long should a CV be?

The optimal length of a CV can vary depending on the individual’s professional profile and job title targeted.

Ideal CV length for most people

For the majority of job seekers, a two-page CV is commonly accepted as the perfect length. This allows to clearly outline your skills, employment history, qualifications, and relevant achievements without overwhelming the reader with an overly long CV.

However, it’s crucial that every word on these two pages adds value and directly contributes to portraying you as an ideal candidate for the job.

Remember, the goal of your curriculum vitae is to capture the employer’s interest and secure an interview, not to provide a comprehensive autobiography.

Below is an example of a succinct, yet comprehensive CV example that effectively showcases the candidate’s skills and experiences, without overwhelming the reader.

How long should CV be - most people


Ideal CV length for people with little or no experience

For individuals who are starting their careers or have minimal work experience, a one-page CV is typically the most suitable. Keeping your CV on a single page isn’t a reflection of lesser value but is rather an appropriate way to present your qualifications, skills, and potential to prospective employers.

This length of CV forces you to focus on the quality of content over volume, emphasising transferrable skills, academic achievements, internships, and other relevant information. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of experiences you have, but the relevance and quality of what you can offer.

Don’t be tempted to fill space; instead, aim to provide on one page a clear, concise, and targeted view of your capabilities.

Below is an example of an exemplary one-page CV for an individual with minimal work experience.

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Ideal CV length for academics

For academics, researchers, and Ph.D. graduates, the CV length can significantly deviate from the standard two-page format.

Given the nature of their work, which often includes numerous publications, presentations, teaching experiences, and research projects, a longer CV is typically expected. How long should a CV be in that case? It can often extend up to a three-page CV, and in some instances four pages or more, depending on the depth and breadth of the academic’s professional portfolio.

However, it is still crucial to ensure that all information is relevant, well-organised, and communicates your academic history and contributions. Tailor it to the specific position you are applying for, highlighting the most pertinent information.

Here is an example showcasing an academic’s professional portfolio.

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CV length: what to include and what not to include

Wondering how to write a good CV? It’s crucial to understand what information should be included to present yourself in the best light, and what details are best left out. Let’s delve into the specifics.

What to include in your CV:

  • Contact information: Your full name, professional email address, and phone number.
  • Personal profile: The CV profile allows you to provide a brief introduction of yourself, outlining your career goals and highlighting your skills and experiences.
  • Professional experience: A chronological listing of your work experience, may it be previous jobs, internships, or volunteer work. Include the company name, your role, dates of employment, and a brief summary of your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Education: In the Education section list your academic qualifications, including the institution name, degree earned, and dates of attendance.
  • Skills: A list of key skills relevant to the job you’re applying for. Your Skills sections can include both interpersonal skills (like communication or organisation) and hard skills (like computer programming or data analysis).
  • References: It’s standard to state “References available upon request,” unless the job posting specifically asks you to include them.

Optional sections to include in your CV

While the sections listed above are generally considered essential for any CV, there are several additional sections that, while not mandatory, can provide further depth to your professional profile and catch a recruiter’s attention. They can be especially useful if you have additional experiences or qualifications that don’t fit neatly into the standard sections. Here are a few you might want to consider:

  • Professional achievements: Any notable accomplishments in your professional career that serve to emphasise your expertise and value. This could include awards, successful projects, promotions, or recognition.
  • Professional certifications: If you’ve completed a course and/or pursued additional professional certifications, this is a great place to showcase them. Include the certification name, the institution that issued it, and the date you received it.
  • Projects: If you have completed notable projects during your academic or professional career, mention them in this section. Describe the project, your role, and any significant results or impacts.
  • Publications: If you have authored or co-authored any publications, you can list them in this section. Include the title of the work, the name of the publication it appeared in, and the date of publication.
  • Conferences and Presentations: If you have presented at conferences or seminars, you can detail these experiences in this section. Specify the name of the conference, the title of your presentation, and the date.
  • Languages: If you speak more than one language, this can be a great asset, particularly for jobs that involve international communication or collaboration. List the languages you speak and your proficiency level for each (e.g., fluent, intermediate, beginner).
  • Volunteer work: If you have done any volunteer work, this can also be a great addition to your CV, especially if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Include the organisation name, your role, dates of volunteering, and a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Awards and Honours: If you have received any awards or honours, this section can showcase these recognitions. Provide the name of the award, the institution that granted it, and the date you received it.
  • Professional memberships: Membership in professional organisations related to your field can demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.
  • Scholarships: Any scholarships received during your academic career, especially those related to your field of work, serve as a testament to your abilities and dedication.

Remember, while these sections can enhance your CV, it’s crucial to ensure they provide relevant and valuable information to the prospective employer. Otherwise, it may be best to leave them out.

What not to include in your CV

  • Too much personal information: Avoid including unnecessary information like your marital status, religious affiliation, or national insurance number.
  • Irrelevant work experience: Unless it provides valuable transferable skills, work experience that’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for can be omitted.
  • Unprofessional email address: Always use a professional-looking email address; preferably one that includes your full name.
  • Salary expectations: Unless asked for in the job description, it’s not customary to include salary expectations in your CV.
  • A list of references: While it’s essential to have references ready if a potential employer requests them, it’s not necessary to include them directly on your CV. Instead, simply stating “References available upon request” is sufficient.
  • Photos: In the UK, it’s not customary to include a photo of yourself on your CV unless specifically requested. Doing so could potentially lead to bias.
  • Religion: Like photos, your religious affiliation should not be included in your CV. It’s irrelevant to your professional abilities and could lead to discrimination.
  • Lies or exaggerations: Always be truthful about your skills and experiences. Misrepresentations can lead to a poor reputation and even job termination.

How to reduce the size of your CV

Now that you know the answer to the question “How long should a CV be”, you are now asking yourself a follow-up question “How to reduce the size of my CV”? Good call.

If your CV is too long, it may be overwhelming for the recruiter to read through, and they may overlook important information. Here are some tips for reducing the size of your CV:

  • Keep it pertinent: Focus on information that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Remove any details that don’t add value or align with the position. Each piece of information in your CV should serve to highlight your qualifications for the role.
  • Don’t repeat yourself: Avoid redundant information and duplicate entries. Each bullet point should present a unique skill, experience, or accomplishment. By eliminating repetition, you make your CV more concise and impactful.
  • Be straight to the point: Treat your CV as a marketing tool. Ensure your statements are clear, brief, and directed. Avoid fluff or unnecessary details. Use action words and quantify achievements where possible to communicate your accomplishments effectively and succinctly.
  • Write a concise personal profile: Your personal profile, sometimes referred to as a professional summary or objective, should be a succinct, impactful statement at the beginning of your CV. It should highlight your key skills, experiences, and career goals, providing the employer with an immediate understanding of who you are as a professional.
  • Don’t mention experience that’s more than a decade old: While all experience contributes to your professional growth, your most recent experiences are often more relevant and indicative of your current capabilities. Therefore, consider omitting job experiences that are over ten years old from your CV. You can discuss these experiences in an interview if they are pertinent.
  • Limit the education to the highest qualifications: Your highest level of education often provides the most significant insight into your academic abilities. Unless lower-level qualifications bear a specific relevance to the job you’re applying for, it might be best to only list your highest degree or certification in the education section of your CV.
  • Optimse your font size and margins: Reducing your font size can help to lessen the length of your CV. However, it’s important to still ensure your text is easily readable, so a font size of around 10-12 points is advised. Similarly, narrowing your margins can also help to reduce the size of your CV. The key is to strike a balance between utilising space effectively and maintaining a visually pleasing and easy-to-read document.
  • Use bullet points: Bullet points are an effective tool to break down information into digestible pieces. They help to organise and clarify your ideas, making your CV more reader-friendly. They guide the reader’s eye to important points and enable to quickly scan your CV for relevant information. Overall, bullet points improve readability and increase the chances of your CV making a positive impression.
  • Don’t try to say everything: A CV isn’t meant to be a comprehensive biography. Instead, it should be a succinct showcase of your most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Based on the content of the job advert, keep your CV targeted and concise, emphasising only the information that’s most pertinent.
  • Know when to leave out optional sections: While the additional sections of your CV, such as volunteering experiences or awards, can enhance your application, they should only be included if they offer relevant and valuable insights into your qualifications for the role. If these sections don’t provide meaningful information or if they make your CV excessively long, it can be more beneficial to leave them out.
  • Remove in-progress projects: While you might be working on exciting projects, including these on your CV might not offer much value since they’re not completed yet. A hiring manager is usually more interested in what you have accomplished rather than what you intend to accomplish.
  • Don’t list older conferences: While attending or speaking at conferences can boost your professional profile, it’s not necessary to include every single one you’ve attended, especially if they are older and no longer relevant.
  • Don’t fear white space: It may seem counterintuitive, but white space is actually a good thing on a CV. It improves readability by breaking up the text and making your CV easier on the eyes. Rather than trying to fill every inch of the page, aim for a balanced design that uses blanks strategically to highlight key information and make your CV more visually appealing.

How can you sneak more info through?

One strategic method to include more information without cluttering your CV is to provide hyperlinks to your online portfolio, social media profiles, or personal website. Offering a direct link to your LinkedIn profile lets potential employers access a broader picture of your professional persona and network.

If you’re in a creative field, linking to an online portfolio can give employers a firsthand look at your work and capabilities. If used wisely, social media profiles can reflect your personal brand and show how you’re positioned in your field.

This approach not only optimises the space on your CV but also creates an opportunity for employers to dive deeper into your qualifications at their convenience. Remember to ensure that any linked content is professional and boosts your candidacy.

Finally, it’s crucial for job seekers to remember that their CV does not stand alone – it’s accompanied by a cover letter that can provide additional detail. While the CV is a brief overview of skills, experiences, and achievements, writing a cover letter offers an opportunity to delve into these areas in more depth and explain why these qualifications make the candidate ideal for the role.

Figure out the perfect CV length with CVHelp!

Crafting a CV that effectively showcases your qualifications while maintaining brevity can be a challenging balancing act. Remember, the ultimate goal of your CV is to make a lasting impression on potential employers and convince them of your suitability for the role.

Looking for further assistance? Check out CVHelp’s CV builder. This intuitive tool simplifies the CV creation process, helping you craft a professional and impressive CV that’s tailored to your career and life goals.

How long should be a cv

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