Asking how long your CV should be is a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ There is no right answer, but there are plenty of guidelines.
Aiming to cover everything in two pages is a good rule of thumb, but it’s not perfect. If you’re looking for high-level executive roles, with twenty years of experience, two pages are unlikely to be enough. On the other hand, if you’re just out of college, two pages is almost two pages too long.
In fact, a better rule of thumb for most of us is this, ‘your CV is too long’, plain and simple. Your CV is meant to provide a snapshot of your career. It’s only function is to convince a recruiter or hiring manager that you are worth talking to for a role. It doesn’t need to make a scientific argument to prove your brilliance, nor does it have to cover every facet of your career. Its only job is to get you in the door.
So, how do we cut it down?
The only required information on your CV is your name, contact details and your current role, everything else is open to interpretation. That means that ‘standard’ information like your date of birth or your leaving cert results don’t necessarily need to be there. You should focus on fitting in relevant information about your career first, then add other relevant details where you can fit them.
You should always think about relevance when putting together your CV. As you are likely to make your application digitally, you have the ability to create as many versions of your CV as you like. Use that to create custom CVs for certain roles. Focus on the roles and successes that are most relevant to the role you are applying for and provide the bare minimum of other details. If you worked in a shop while you were in college 10 years ago, a hiring manager for a management position won’t really care. All they are interested in is whether or not you have the relevant experience to do the job, make sure that’s what they see first.
Most of us simply write too much on our CVs. Remember that this is a sales document, an overview of your career with the best bits highlighted to encourage hiring managers to speak to you. You only need to outline your achievements. If you managed a project that increased sales by 10%, you don’t need to explain it in detail on your CV, just say ‘a project’ if it’s relevant you’ll be asked about it in the interview. Keep everything brief and to the point on your CV, let the hiring manager decide what they want to ask about once you get to the interview.
Start From Scratch
If you started out with a small CV and then built on it as your career grew, it can be difficult to cut it down. Certain parts will always feel like they are vital, because they have always been there. The best way to cut it down is to start from scratch, take only the bare minimum of information and think about the job you’re applying for. Keep things brief to build a sharp and effective CV. A shorter CV won’t guarantee you a new job, but a more focused an effective CV might be enough to secure an interview. After that, the rest is up to you.
One other trick to consider is headlines or labels, your email address or phone number are unlikely to be confused with other details, you don’t need to label them at the expense of space.