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How Long Should a CV Be?

A CV must NOT be longer than two pages, right? There are some pretty strong opinions out there with regards to CV length, but the first thing to remember is that there are no ‘absolute rules’. Generally speaking though, keeping your CV to two pages is a good starting point.

Recruiters don’t want to spend ages reading your CV; they want to access the useful information as quickly as possible. The main aim of your CV is to convey the information required in a clear and efficient manner. This enables the recruiter to assess your CV for a particular role as quickly as possible. That means cutting out anything which is simply there to pad out your CV.

But a CV has to be two pages long, right?

The main problem comes when students feel that their CV has to be two pages long. This isn’t true. School leavers and apprentices’ CVs don’t even have to be that long, as the person reading it isn’t expecting you to have heaps of experience. Only include information that is strictly necessary. The same goes for recent graduates. Often, having a shorter CV, which really stamps out the key areas of your experience and expertise, will be far more effective than a longer CV.

Really, it’s all about learning the value of space; working out which areas of your CV are the most important and which are the least important, and allocating space accordingly. So, if you’re a graduate, you might want to compress the section about your A -levels and GCSEs to a few lines, if only to accentuate the fact that you have a degree.

The main problem facing recent graduates is a perceived lack of experience, and you will justify this prejudice if your education section is significantly larger than your work experience section. By shrinking down your education section and enlarging your work experience section, you are visually showing them that you have gained plenty of work experience.

Can I ever go over two sides of A4?

It’s up to you to use your discretion. For academic and technical CVs, you might need to go into far more detail in your education section. Consequently, your CV might be slightly longer than two sides. But the same rules still apply: keep it sharp, concise and cut out anything superfluous.

What not to do…

In an effort to keep their CVs within two sides, some students go a bit trigger happy with their formatting, either playing havoc with page margins or squishing their font down to a size 8 or below. The key thing about CVs is that they have to be well presented, readable and clearly laid out. Recruiters want to be able to find the relevant information quickly; a CV that requires a magnifying glass to read it won’t help.