How Long Should a CV Be?

how long should a CV be

Your curriculum vitae—or a CV, as it’s often abbreviated—contains a lot of information: It can include details about your education, skills, achievements, research, awards, affiliations, and so much more. In other words, there’s a lot to fit into this document, and it can raise the question: How long should a CV be? We’ve got the answer—plus a few more CV tips you’ll love to have.

How Long Should a CV Be?

Size does matter—when it comes to your CV, that is. Most recruiters agree that the perfect CV is two pages long—no more, no less. And here’s why: Recruiters and hiring managers spend only seven seconds reading your CV before signing you up for an interview—or tossing that precious piece of paper in the trash. So, you have very little time to grab their attention, as well as keep it. 

A two-page CV also gives you ample room to discuss your experience, accomplishments, skills, and more without rushing through the details—or losing the reader with too many details.

What If I Don’t Have Enough Information?

There’s good news for people just starting their careers, or who simply feel like they can’t fill up two pages: A one-page CV is also acceptable, recruiters say—and in fact, some recruiters may even prefer it. A concise, engaging one-page CV is preferable, they say, to a two-page CV that rambles on without a clear direction or is padded with unnecessary or irrelevant information.

If you’re just starting in your field—or are fresh out of university—recruiters don’t expect you to have two-pages worth of information. However, you should make what you do have count: Pack it with quantifiable details, soft and hard skills, and any professional achievements that you have.

How Can I Cut Down My CV’s Length?

If you write out your CV and see it’s slipped to three—or more—pages, it’s time to make cuts. Here are a few tips to help you make any necessary revisions and get it back down to two pages: 

Ask: Is everything relevant?

It can be tempting to include everything. But it’s not necessary to write down every award you’ve ever won, every class you’ve ever taken, or every job you’ve ever held. (For example, your first job as a sixteen-year-old? That’s not necessary.) Instead, stick to the details that most apply to the job for which you’re applying. If a sentence doesn’t show why you would be perfect in the position, it likely contains details that you can omit.

Check for repetitive statements.

To sell yourself, you might be tempted to hammer home the same point. But repetitive statements can add bulk to your CV and strip you of the chance to sell your other attributes. So, for example, if you say you’re adaptive, you don’t also have to say you are flexible. Instead, delete the repeat, or swap the sentence to include another of your attributes. 

Use your other documents.

In addition to your CV, you’ll be submitting a cover letter. So, if you run out of space on your CV, don’t be afraid to use your cover letter to share the details that didn’t make the CV cut. These documents should complement and not repeat each other anyway!

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