It can be very hard, if you are writing your own CV to determine what goes in, what gets left out and what’s important. It’s even harder if you have a very long career history in multiple positions.
The general rule of thumb is that two pages is sufficient enough information for your prospective employer to determine if they should offer you an interview. This is not set in stone, however. For a graduate, one page is perfectly normal, whereas it’s not uncommon to see a senior level CV exceeding three pages. If you find yourself exceeding this, take a look at our tips below to reduce the length of your CV.
You should put nothing in your CV that would allow anyone to make a negative decision about you before they have met you. Your CV should make you shine, and if you need 20 years of career history to do that, there’s a reason why you are looking to change jobs now.
The most important page to focus on is the first. The second is merely a backup, a confirmation that you can do what you say. Including a brief profile and bullet pointed areas of expertise trains the eye towards these keywords and allows you to pinpoint exactly where your knowledge lies.
Unless you have been in one position for a long time, you can either choose to list the last 10 years history. If you find that earlier roles have some significant achievements worth shouting about these could be listed in an earlier career summary and bullet pointed underneath.
If you have a lot to say, remove all traces of job description and focus each point entirely on achievements. It’s fair to say you wouldn’t be applying for the role unless your CV supported your application and you have either done the role before or have multiple transferable skills that could be attributed directly to this change in career. Either way, a list of your job parameters will not sell you, it’s what you achieved or how you added value to the organisations you worked for that will.
Finally, unless you are applying for a particularly high level medical or law related role, you can stick to an education section that highlights your academic achievements. Focus on formal education in terms of degrees and A Levels and showcase your personal development through an additional section that shows directly related training and development.
You can of course, tailor a cover letter and include additional points of interest and achievement in this, which in many cases, if written correctly, provide much needed and well appreciated information to support your CV.
The key here is less is more. Only include achievements, quantify them where possible and allow your CV to show your future employer exactly what you could achieve for them. Don’t be tempted to keep writing.
I hate to update my CV because I hate CV. The fact is, there is no way for you to reduce life experience and therefore CV can only be lengthened.— chainsawriot (@chainsawriot) January 17, 2018
When I was working as a youngling in a hospital, one of my job was maintaining my boss’s CV. I was traumatised by his 30+ pages CV.
Sorting out my cv (the first time in 10 years). Attempting to reduce 9 pages down to 1 or 2! I've forgotten how much good stuff I've done.— Bill Bigwood (@billbigwood) April 6, 2017
I had been trying to reduce my CV from 7 pages to 2 pages...It's time to eliminate part of my experience :(— happy.yirafa (@HappyYirafa) March 16, 2017