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The best possible CV for any job application balances the need for information with the need to be brief. Ensuring that your CV is the right length is very important if you want to catch a hiring manager’s eye and be invited to a job interview. The length of your CV could even impact how applicant tracking systems (ATS) rank your CV.
The CV length is important for three main reasons. Firstly, your CV is a direct example of your ability to communicate effectively. If you can provide all of the right information in a concise CV, recruiters will be impressed. Second, most large employers use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to filter job applications. A CV that is too long or too short may be rejected by this software. Maybe because they read hundreds of CVs a day, recruiters only spend an average of 6 seconds assessing each CV before deciding whether to discard it or fully read it. A CV that is too long can cost even qualified job seekers the chance at their dream job
The ideal CV length depends on your experience and the seniority of the role that you are applying for. If you are applying for entry-level roles, for example, a shorter CV like a functional CV will be preferable. But if you are applying for a senior role, two-page CVs are much more common. This is partly due to the longer employment history section expected for senior roles. And it may also be due to a more robust education section that lists professional certifications and advanced degrees.
So in many cases, you can tell what the ideal CV length is by considering the job description. For example, if the job advert notes that 15 years of experience or more are needed for a role, or there is a long list of key skills needed to do the job, then a recruiter will be expecting a longer CV.
The perfect CV must include your personal information, contact information, career history and an overview of your skills and qualifications. In this sense, a CV is somewhat like a personal statement, but it should not be formatted as such. A good CV format should be easy to scan with plenty of white space. Here are the common sections you should include in your CV:
Your header should include your full name and contact information, such as your phone number, email address and your professional social media links, like your LinkedIn account.
This small section directly below your header should contain the highlights of your CV. The CV summary should include your most pertinent skills, qualifications and achievements here.
Your CV skills section should contain up to 12 bullet points detailing relevant soft and hard skills. Soft skills are skills you have developed that are transferable to any job, such as interpersonal and communication skills. Hard skills, or technical skills, are skills you have trained for to work in your field, such as accounting or programming skills. Aim for no less than right skills to make a strong impression while conserving space.
Your work experience section should contain up to the last 10 years of work history unless the job advert specifically asks for more. Include your precise job titles to increase your chance of ranking well in ATS and provide a brief overview of your best achievements, as well as your employment dates.
If you are a recent graduate, this section will be more important. Once you have a good amount of work experience you can pair your education section down and include only the most advanced and relevant qualifications to save space. If you include only these basic sections you will be able to create a good resume on one page. If you need to include additional sections, you may need to add an extra page. But for entry-level jobs, this layout should be ideal.
Yes, a three-page CV is too long unless you are applying for a very specialized and senior position, such as a CFO, that requires the addition of numerous new sections and a huge amount of professional experience. Two pages should generally be the upper limit for a perfect CV.
CV writing is as much a skill as anything else and prospective employers will be considering the quality of your CV as well as your personal profile and skills section. The ability to be concise is key. If you want to reduce the length of a CV, there are three aspects to consider: relevance, repetition, and efficiency. Assess your CV and remove information that is non-relevant to the job advert, repetitive, or unnecessary. Relevant but unnecessary information can be included in your cover letter for extra effect.
Though certain design changes can help you to make the most of your CV space, you should avoid using custom margins. Your CV margins should be within 0.5 and 1 inch all-around to ensure that it is easy for ATS to scan. Different CV templates can help you to fit more relevant information into a single page, however, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
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