How long should a CV be? Top tips to achieve your dream job
- April 13, 2022
- Posted by: Cheryl Burchell
- Category: Career Advice
The length of your CV is a crucial factor in getting an interview for your dream job, so how long should a CV be? To get an employer to give you an interview based on your CV, first, you need them to read it.
The goal of a CV is to get an interview, not a job. You need to make the recruiters want to find out more about you. The job market is competitive right now and your CV is often one of the only things your potential employer will see when considering you for a role. Your CV is an important part of your career journey and can mean the difference between getting an interview or not, regardless of your qualifications and experience.
Deciding on the length of your CV is a balancing act. You don’t want to submit a CV that is too short as that could imply you don’t have enough skills and experience to write about. But submit a CV that is too long, and it will go straight into the no pile, as managers will not have time to read it. Generally, 2 pages is the ideal length for a CV. But there is much more to a CV than that.
Here are our top tips on creating a CV that will get you an interview for your dream job:
How long should a CV be?
The chances are if your CV is more than around 2 pages, it won’t be read. One sheet of A4 printed front and back is ideal. Just one piece of paper for the hiring manager to scan. Recruitment and HR managers simply do not have the time to read each CV in detail. Your CV needs to be clear and concise with all the information presented in a scannable way. It needs to check the boxes they are looking for, so they want to find out more about you in an interview.
Only include what is relevant to the job role
You don’t need to include everything you have ever done in your CV. It’s not a life story, it’s a showreel of your suitability for the role. While it’s nice to know that you enjoy going to the gym and watching movies, that space on your CV could be used to add something much more relevant to the role. Similarly with your work experience, just include the recent roles you have had since leaving education, only the past 10-15 years are generally relevant.
What if I don’t have much work experience to add to my CV?
How long your CV is will depend on certain factors. Your age and work background will impact the amount of information you have to include. If you have been working for 30 years, you will have more to add than someone who is getting back into work, or an 18-year-old who has just left college. The key here is to include what you have been up to prior to working. This could be education, part-time roles, travelling, volunteer work, raising a family, and many other things that you can add to show your experience and character.
Don’t repeat yourself
Words are powerful so choose them carefully. The language you use should directly reflect how you want to be perceived. Check that you aren’t using any colloquial language and that you haven’t repeated yourself anywhere. Your CV should speak for itself, and you should not have to repeat or embellish your experience. And on the subject, don’t lie either. You will be found out eventually.
How many CVs are hiring managers looking at?
In today’s competitive job market, employers receive serval applications for each role at all levels. On average, employers will interview 6 candidates for every job vacancy they advertise and there could be hundreds of applications for sought after jobs at large companies, so safe to say you have some competition. You need to make sure your CV grabs their attention and on average you have about 7 seconds to do this. You can read more about this in James Reed’s Book, The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
How do I layout a CV?
A well laid out CV will stand out to companies. It shows you are a professional person who is willing to take the time to create a well-presented document that shows your skills and experience in the best light. Those are attractive traits to employers even before they have read your CV. Here are some tips on how to layout your CV:
Use a simple structure – Your CV needs to be well laid out and neat. Don’t make it too colourful or busy, as this can distract from the information. It needs to be professional but can still show your personality.
- Don’t fill it with huge blocks of text that look messy
- Format your paragraphs
- Choose an easy to read, black font in size 11 or 12.
- Split your CV into headings and use bold to make them stand out
- Include your contact details at the top of the page. You do not need to include your date of birth.
Maximise the space on the page – Your space is limited so get creative with your layout to make the most of the space on the page. Bullet points are great as they are scannable and help to get your point across without too many words. Include all of your experience and skills that the job description requires and don’t forget soft skills too.
Get to the point – Draw on the most recent and relevant experience you have in your field. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a 5-page essay about every time you have worked as a team since primary school. They don’t care. Harsh but true.
Use a template – If you are struggling to find the right layout for your CV, there are lots of templates available online. Simply populate the template with your information. You can find great CV templates for free on Canva. You can edit the templates to suit your style and colour preferences and add images if you want to. They can be downloaded as a PDF and be sent quickly and easily to employers.
Top Tip: Check your documents thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t rely on spell-check. Spell checkers will correctly identify misspelt words, but do not know what you meant to say. Asking someone else to proofread your CV is also a good idea.
How to tailor your CV to the job role
There may be several stages to a job application process and a CV is usually the first step in the process. It needs to show your qualifications, skills, and experience in the best possible way Whatever your dream job is, each company will interpret it differently. Each role is unique and will have different requirements. Ideally, you need to tweak your CV for each role you apply for.
While it is ideal to have a standard CV ready to go, your CV should be tailored to each job role. Read the job description carefully and pick out the key areas where your skills and experience match. Mirror their language and use similar phrases that match their job description and explain how your experience matches their ideal candidate.
What about specific CVs?
As you’re looking at our website, you likely have a specific career path in mind in one of the below fields. As well as all the points above, we’ve put together some more specific tips for creating a CV for roles in Project Management, Digital Marketing, Management, and IT:
CVs for Project Managers
- Include qualifications such as PRINCE2® and PRINCE2 Agile™
- Use keywords that relate to project management to help bypass any online CV algorithms
- Focus on project management project you have completed in previous roles
- Include the industry you specialise in, or the one you want to and why
CVs for Digital Marketers
- Add any project you have made successful and bring examples
- Include Digital Marketing qualifications at the top of your CV
- Attach your portfolio if you can or explain you have one available on request
CVs for Managers
- Senior roles will require more detail about the most recent management role you had.
- References will be more important for high-level management roles
- Any industry recognition you have
- Membership to any professional organisations
CVs for IT jobs
- The programmes you are sufficient in
- The software and computers you are familiar with
- Any areas of expertise
- Leave out acronyms and jargon. The IT company will already know them.
Our team have lots of knowledge on the qualifications needed to achieve your career goals in IT, Project Management and Digital Marketing. Get in touch to find out about how our courses can help your CV stand out and get you your dream job.