How Long Should a CV Be?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 November 2022

Published 13 December 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people will say that a CV must be a single page—that this is an indisputable fact of CV writing. However, there's no single correct answer to how long should a CV be, as it's completely dependent upon your background, experience and the types of jobs you're currently applying for. In this article, we'll discuss what a CV is, how long should it be and how you can shorten it.

What is a CV?

A CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, is a detailed document that highlights your skills, professional achievements, academic qualifications and work experience. Individuals commonly use a CV when applying for a position in academia. Employers often require candidates to submit a comprehensive CV that outlines their professional and academic experience. However, you can use a CV to apply for any job, but the length of the document will depend on your level of experience.

Related: How to create an effective CV layout

How long should a CV be?

The ideal length of a CV varies depending on your situation. If you're a recent graduate or a professional with little to no work experience, a one-page CV is long enough to showcase your qualifications, achievements or skills. If you're having difficulty filling even a single page, you can include relevant volunteer work to your CV or strengthen your CV with extracurricular activities.

If you have several years of professional experience, then your CV must be two pages or longer. This is especially true when you are applying for senior-level positions in a company. A two-page CV provides you with enough space to showcase your relevant professional history and accomplishments.

If you're a student applying for a doctoral programme or an applicant applying for a senior management role, a three-page CV is ideal for you. However, you should not make it three pages long unless each piece of information applies to the position you are applying for.

Related: How to Write a CV Employers Will Notice

What to include and not to include in a CV?

The following are vital elements to include in a CV:

  • Contact information, including your name, email and telephone number

  • Professional profile

  • Educational qualifications

  • Work experience

  • Skills and qualifications

  • Professional achievements

  • Licenses and certifications

  • Language/s spoken

  • Professional memberships

  • Scholarships

  • Research projects, publications and conference attendance, especially for academic roles

  • Awards and honours

The following are the elements you should not include in a CV:

  • A list of references

  • Photos

  • Religion

  • Personal information, such as marriage status, age, height, race and religious affiliations

  • Salary information from previous employers

How to reduce your CV length

Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the length of your CV while ensuring that the document highlights your best-selling points:

1. Make your personal profile concise

A CV's personal profile works like a summary statement. It briefly summarises your professional achievements, relevant work experience and goals for the role. Make sure your personal profile section is only a couple of sentences long so that recruiters can easily transition to your skills and experience section. The purpose of the personal profile section is to catch the hiring manager's attention, not to tell them your professional autobiography.

Read More: What To Include in Your CV

2. Include only work experience from the past decade

To make room for additional elements on your CV, shorten your work experience section. Don't include work experience if it's over 10 years old. Include your previous employer's name, the job title for each position and the inclusive dates of employment on one line to save more space on your CV.

If you have a lot of skills that are relevant to the position you're applying for, you can replace some of your work experience with those skills. If you want to focus more on your skills, you can include a brief statement on how you developed them.

For example, if you are applying for an entry-level project management internship, underline the project management skills you've developed and include some evidence on how you improved them. So, let's say you completed a project that was praised by a client. The explanation of your skills and how you acquired them can signify your potential for future success to your prospective company.

Related: Writing a CV with No Experience

3. Limit your education section to the highest qualifications

Another way to keep your CV concise is to list only the degrees you obtained during your academic year. You don't have to include information about the training you've attended, clubs you took part in or your dissertation. You may include this information to your educational qualification if it's relevant to the job you're applying for.

The reception to this would be if you are applying for a position in academia. In these cases, you must list your dissertation if it is relevant to the teaching or future research you intend to carry out.

Related: Problem-solving Skills for CVs: Importance and How To Include

4. Proofread and edit your CV carefully before submission

Writing a CV is only half of the process. You also need to proofread and edit the document carefully before submitting. Proofreading and editing your CV helps you determine repetition, grammatical and spelling errors and awkward sentence structures. One of the effective ways to catch mistakes is to read the document aloud and listen for anything that does not sound right.

If you have a friend or colleague who is experienced in writing or reviewing CVs, you can ask them to review the document and provide feedback. You may also ask for the help of a professional CV writing service, especially if you are not sure of your ability to market yourself effectively.

Related: When is it beneficial to include a picture on a CV?

5. Decrease font size, margins and spacing

To include more information on fewer pages, decrease the margins and font size of your document. However, make sure that the font size you use doesn't affect your CV's readability. For best results, use 12-point or 11-point fonts.

You should also set appropriate margins to give your CV more space to expand your accomplishments and experience. Appropriate margins for a CV are 0.5, 0.75 or 1 inch. The goal is to ensure your text is distributed evenly on the page and not packed in too closely. You may adjust your margins to different options to determine which looks best for your CV. A CV with less text usually has larger 1-inch margins and a CV with more text usually has smaller 0.5 or 0.75 margins.

You can also decrease the spacing on your CV to limit the page length. Try reducing the spaces between headings to one space, but make sure to keep the CV legible. Try different spacing, but make sure to leave enough white space to maintain the readability and neatness of the document.

Read More: How to Choose the Best Font Size for Cover Letters

6. Include only recent conferences you've attended and projects you've completed

Consider only listing projects that you have completed for employers or while you are finishing school. You may include metrics or numbers to demonstrate the significance of the project and to give it more credibility. For instance, if you wrote a blog post for a company's website, indicate the number of people who read your article. The results of your completed projects signify the output you can achieve while working at your prospective employer.

However, if you're applying for a position in academia, make an exception for articles or books that are about to be published. Publications are an important part of academia, so including in-progress projects will show that you are active in your chosen field.

If you were a guest speaker at multiple conferences, just list recent conferences you spoke at. You can save room and highlight key speaking engagements on subjects that capture the attention of an employer.

Read More: How to list projects on your CV (plus tips and examples)

7. Include more information in your cover letter

A cover letter should further emphasise your previous achievements and, when used effectively, can help reduce the length of your CV. Rather than cram all your professional credentials into your CV, use the cover letter to expand on your accomplishments, work experience and skills. However, avoid repetition and fluff. Highlight your professional objectives and use the opportunity to stay on top of the hiring manager's mind.

Related: Q&A: Should You Include a Cover Letter?

8. Use bullet points

Information in paragraph form is a bit difficult to digest, especially when hiring managers review your CV in a matter of seconds. One way to make information in your CV easy to digest is to use bullet points. Think of a department store. Seeing so many products can be overwhelming. You don't know where to begin and sometimes skip it all together. Making your CV reader-friendly encourages your readers to finish reviewing it, thereby increasing your chances of getting the job you're applying for.

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