Free CV Advice - A CV should be no more than 2 pages long... shouldn't it?

Free CV advice is great to have.

Downloading a CV template or looking at various CV examples can be a great starting point. If you have been doing on-line research on how to write a CV, you will have no doubt seen various articles, videos or social media posts offering Top CV Tips to help you as well.

These are great resources to turn to, but how much they will really improve a CV comes down to how well you are able to apply the advice you have been given.

My CV Guide is here to help with that. Through a series of articles, we will look at some of the most common CV tips out there, exploring what they actually mean and offering advice and guidance on how to apply them so you can make significant and meaningful improvements to your CV.

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In this, the third article in the series, we look at the Top CV Tip:

A CV should be no more than two pages long

First of all, don’t stress about this tip; how long a CV should be will vary. Some CVs will be longer and some will be shorter, but the general point of considering the length of a CV is important. That is therefore what we will focus on in this article. How do you reduce the length of a CV without losing too much of your valuable content or how do you bolster it if it is scant on detail and coming up short on length? Being comfortable with this is a great CV writing skill. Some application processes and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) will have strict cut off points on length and so the ability to shorten your CV for specific applications if needed is of genuine benefit. Here are some ways in which you can shorten or lengthen your CV as appropriate.

My CV is too Long

Remove Unnecessary Language – Does your CV get to the point? You may have elaborated on certain descriptions to create greater insight or to express a more in-depth sense of personal style or character into the document. As tempting as this may be to do, try not to. Really focus on using Plain Language. Your aim is to allow the reader to process information that is of most relevance to them as efficiently as possible. Any additional language just represents more information for them to process to get to the details that they are after. Allow them to get to the point quickly by removing any words or sentences that don’t add additional meaning or value.

Related Article: How to write a good CV; the importance of readability

Remove Duplication – As you read through the details you have provided under each of your previous roles, are they adding something new or simply duplicating areas of experience or delivery that you have already covered? Some repetition can help to consolidate the evidence of your experience which can be beneficial, but only up to a point. Beyond that, duplicating the same aspects of your knowledge or experience has a diminishing amount of value as it is not adding anything new. It can even start to present a burden to a reader as it begins to represent more for them to read through, but without providing them with any additional information.

Focus on Relevance – When you write a CV, approach it as a reader driven document. Think from the perspective of what the reader will want to understand from your CV rather than what you want to tell them. It is not feasible to include every detail of everything that you have ever done in your life to-date, so focus on relevance. Is everything you have written going to be of interest or relevance to the reader? This is something you can review ahead of each application to remove any content that wouldn’t be of significant relevance to the role being applied to. Even if it is an achievement that is impressive, interesting or that you are proud of, if it is not directly relevant to that specific application, consider removing it.

Re-Format – Once you have streamlined the content, check your formatting. You don’t want to cram text in to reduce overall length, so make sure the document still presents well both on screen and if printed off. Sections need to be clear and line spacing and bullets can help break up large bodies of uniform text to make it more accessible and readable. If you are a couple of lines over complete pages then are there ways you can reduce the number of lines? Adjusting margin sizes slightly is one way of doing this, or if you have any sections going one or two words onto a new line, can they be reduced or edited down at all? These are subtle changes but can make a difference to the overall length and appearance of your CV.

My CV is too Short

Give more Context – Have you provided enough information so that a reader can understand the context within which you have worked and delivered? This can help you to bolster an opening personal profile on a CV and provide additional detail for each role within your Employment History. Think in terms of the industry sector, organisation, team or management structure and business culture or physical setting. There are lots of details that you can clarify for a reader, so pick those that would be most relevant and provide some degree of insight so that a clear understanding of the types of environments that you have worked within can be fully understood.

Provide more Specific Details – If you have only provided generic details, could you be more specific? The additional content will make the information you are providing far more meaningful and impactful. A classic CV example is to reference being a good communicator. It is not specific enough to truly connect with a recruitment requirement, even if it is for a role that requires good communication. It is too generic. What does being a good communicator really mean? What are you good at communicating and who too? Producing numerical reports on a daily basis or standing up in-front of a crowd of thousands are great examples of how you can communicate in very different ways. Specify what you mean so that the reader can relate to it.

Add Facts and Figures – You will probably have already heard this advice, but if you haven’t got any figures or metrics in your CV, add some in. There are a number of benefits to doing so. It creates a better understanding of context, a more measurable record of achievement and therefore a more relatable set of information that the reader can connect their requirement to. Think in terms of financials, volumes or timeframes so it can be anything from number of people within a team, iterations of a particular activity over a given time frame, revenues generated, sales made, cost savings or budgets managed. By adding these figures you are bolstering the information that you are providing in a very easily processed format.

Use Line Spaces – Once you have bolstered the content, use line spacing to ensure that it is presented clearly. Reading on screens is not as easy as reading on paper and it is almost certain that your CV will be read on a screen at some point in any given recruitment process. Help the reader out by using line spaces to create clarity between sections. This helps it to be skim read and for information to be ascertained from it, so if the overall length of your CV leaves you with space to spread your text and sections into, then make sure you use it.

There are lots of ways in which you can lengthen or shorten a CV and the above tips will give you a good starting point to work from. The overall length of a CV is an important consideration, but rather than focus too much on a strict rule of two pages, focus on really strong and relevant content that is to the point and efficient for a reader to process. You can then tailor it to each application you make and by doing so, ensure that your CV remains within a length limit if there is one set.

For other articles on how to write a CV take a look at the My CV Guide Blog or get in touch at anytime with any questions you may have.

Whatever your CV needs, My CV Guide is here to help.

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