What is the ideal CV length?
We have seen CVs over 30 pages long (true!), with photocopied certificates on top of that. This is not an autobiography you’re writing. It’s a curriculum vitae and it’s meant to be a lot shorter! A one-page CV if it is feasible is recommended – and some recruitment agencies, especially head-hunters, may insist on a one-page CV.
Failing that, two pages is entirely acceptable and in certain circumstances, it may be acceptable for a CV to run to three pages - but only for certain special cases, e.g. a medical CV where multiple qualifications and experience must be provided in detail.
People often feel that a one-page CV is worth less than a two-pager but this is definitely not true. It is much better to have a good, strong one-page CV than a two-page one that is padded out with unnecessary information. You should always be aiming to exclude irrelevant information which may detract from other more important points.
Often a CV which has been spread out over two pages can, with a little careful tweaking, be made to fit onto one page – and this tends to have greater impact. It is of course important not to force a CV unnecessarily onto one page when two pages would be better but a 1½ page CV tends to look incomplete and weak.
Finished CV longer than two pages?
There’s only one answer to this question – unless you fall into a "special case" as outlined above, you need to keep working on your CV until you’ve reduced it to the standard two pages.
Take a long, hard look at your CV and consider:
- Removing some of the less important points you’ve made
- Finding ways to communicate the same points more concisely
- Ruthlessly eliminating all unnecessary words and phrases
- Axing non-essential sections, for example your Objectives
- Placing your Interests & Activities under Other Details
- Changing the design and page layout to create more space
- Editing, rewriting, polishing and perfecting until it fits!
Regardless of the length, do make sure that all your most important information is conveyed on the first page or, for a one-page CV, in the top half of the page – because too many recruiters simply won’t always look any further.