As a professional CV writer, I see hundreds of CVs from every span of experience and profession. To help people make the most of their CV, today’s topic is size.
The ideal length of a CV is 1-3 sides of A4, which means the optimum size is 2-pages. This is a fact that many professionals are aware of, but it still causes two common problems.
You may have either numerous workplaces in your employment history and / or extensive accomplishments that you want to share. The temptation is to add everything – after all, you have a lot of experience that you want to illustrate. Before you know it, you have a CV that is pages long; I often see 6-page CVs and have even seen up to 23-pages!
Whilst there was no doubt that the professionals were highly accomplished, their CVs scored very low by comparison; sometimes to the extent that getting shortlisted would be a challenge. This is because the golden nuggets were lost within a swamp of stones. No one can process that amount of information when scanning a CV.
The high impact statements get diluted in excessively long CVs, the recruiter “switches off” and your CV just becomes too difficult to pick through. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t know you – so they are not going to invest above and beyond effort.
Filter exercise 1:
What information is absolutely RELEVANT to the role you are applying?
If it is not high-impact relevance, do not put it in your CV.
Filter exercise 2:
Which relevant gems to you want to hold back on detail to evoke curiosity that gets your shortlisted?
Alluding to something amazing among other high impact accomplishments provides something of interest and intrigue that in order to satisfy, you will need to be asked during interview. It also gives you an edge at interview with something new to reveal, as well as saving space on your CV. But – do make sure that you still have enough golden nuggets packed in – or you will simply appear vague.
With extensive experience, drop the hobbies and references if you need to. Aim to get your CV on 3-pages or less.
You may have only had one place of employment or this could even be your first role, so beyond education, there is little content to include in your CV. The temptation is to “pad it out” with anything you can think of. But before you know it, you have 2-pages of irrelevant content that hides your potential from prospective recruiters.
Everyone starts somewhere. It is okay not to have vast experience when you are starting out on your career journey, so long as you are being realistic regarding the roles you are seeking with the experience you have.
Focus exercise 1:
What skills will be required in the role to which you are applying?
By identifying what the employer needs, it will help you focus on your RELEVANT experience and more readily have examples to demonstrate you have what is required.
Focus exercise 2:
What things have you done at work, in education or as a volunteer that have made an impact?
Try to avoid vague statements, eg “I served customers and now I have good communication skills.” And instead try to focus on the difference it made to the company, eg “Provided excellent customer service through listening to their needs and offering clear advice.”
Inexperienced professionals often fill their CV with information all about what they want but it is vital that you consider what your employer wants. You are selling your services. You are wanting someone to pay you for those services you are providing. So, what is in it for them – why should they choose to hire and pay you?
It is better to have a 1-page CV which has relevant information, can demonstrate you have the skills the employer seeks and that you can make a difference (show your impact), than a 2-page CV padded out with anything you can dredge up without any focus or impact.
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