When it comes to creating a winning CV, you need to strike a balance between showcasing your hard and soft skills in a way that clearly demonstrates your suitability for the role. Don’t overwhelm the hiring manager with reams of information. 

Wondering how long your CV should be, or looking for tips to present your experience in a clear, concise format? Read on to find out more.

The downsides of a long CV

Along with your cover letter, your CV is essentially an advert for how brilliant you'd be at a given job. As such, when writing a CV, it pays to consider what makes an effective advert.

There is a reason that TV ads typically last no longer than 30 seconds: people lose interest if you can't communicate your message in a concise manner. In the same way, recruiters and hiring managers have little interest in wading through lengthy professional autobiographies. They want to access the most pertinent information as quickly as possible.

An overly long CV is therefore likely to do you more harm than good. In short, if you can't sum up your skills and experience in a concise manner, don't expect to be invited for an interview.

How long should your CV be?

Unless you're applying for an entry-level position, two pages is widely considered to be the perfect length for a CV.

However, that's not to say writing a two-page CV should be your goal. Always strive to incorporate only the most relevant facts. If you can communicate all the key information in a single page, that doesn't mean you've written a bad CV (although it may signify that you lack the necessary experience for more senior positions).

How about longer CVs? Even if you have decades of experience, recruitment experts generally recommend you detail the most salient points within two pages, up to a maximum of four pages if needed. Academic CVs are the only common exception.

Tips for reducing CV length

Found yourself with an eight-page CV that you're struggling to edit down? These top tips should help you separate the vital information from the unnecessary:

Write a concise personal profile

A short, sharp personal profile is an effective way to communicate your key skills and ambitions in a couple of brief sentences. Don't fall into the trap of telling your professional life story - at best it'll be ignored, at worst it could dissuade a hiring manager from reading on.

Cut down on duplication

Duplication isn't your friend when it comes to writing a concise CV, so don't lapse into repeating yourself. Concentrate on making a point and moving on, rather than attempting to convince through repetition.

Limit your experience to the past decade

The more experienced you are, the more you can include on your CV. But there's little benefit to detailing the specifics of a job you held 20 years ago; chances are that the revolutionary methods' you adopted at the time will just come across as outdated. Focus on your past ten years of experience, then summarise previous positions by company, job title and time in employment, as follows:

ACME Sales - Account Director - March 1998-September 2001

Looking for more advice on creating a winning CV and cover letter? Check out our CV and cover letter content hub. For more career tips, browse all of our advice here or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to discuss your career options.

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