Q&A: How Long Should a CV Be?
Employers look at resumes and CVs (curriculum vitae) to find qualified applicants for open positions. Your CV should focus on the achievements you've had in previous educational and professional roles. You need to ensure that your CV is long and detailed enough so that the hiring manager understands the experience you can bring to their organization.
In this article, we outline frequently asked questions about the ideal length for your CV.
What is a CV?
CV, or curriculum vitae, is Latin for "course of life." It's a document that portrays your skills, experience and accomplishments throughout your academic and professional career. Employers might require you to send a CV instead of your resume to be eligible for an interview. CVs are widely used by graduate students and others in academia, but applicants of any experience level can create and send a CV to showcase their qualifications.
How long should a CV be?
The average length of a CV should be around two to three pages. Employers do not have strict requirements on a CV's length, but making the length of your CV two to three pages helps the hiring manager digest your experience for the position they're hiring for.
If you're a graduate student or someone with limited work experience, you can keep it to one page to summarize your qualifications. Make sure you look at the job description to ensure that you're matching your experience with the company's requirements.
However, if you're applying for an academic position, your CV will likely be as long as necessary to include all of your accomplishments and other important details.
Read more: Academic CV Guide
What should a CV include and not include?
Some elements you can include in a CV are:
Relevant contact information
Professional work experience
Skills and qualifications
Awards and honors
Licenses and certifications
Important research projects
Publications and speaking engagements
Some elements you should exclude from your CV include:
A list of references
Reasons why you left previous positions
Salary information from previous employers
Religion, height or weight in your personal information
Headshots or other photos
How can you reduce the length of your CV?
You can use many techniques to decrease the length of your CV. Decreasing the length of your CV indicates that you provided only vital information that warrants consideration from the hiring manager.
Here are tips to reduce the length of your CV:
Shorten your personal profile.
Your CV's personal profile serves a similar purpose as a resume's summary statement, where you discuss personal traits, the type of employee you are and relevant work experience that summarizes why you're qualified for the job.
Cut down your CV's personal profile to a couple of sentences so the hiring manager can easily transition to reviewing your work experience. Note the most important skills you have, how you can use them and the ambitions you have for your career path.
Trim your work experience and highlight your skills.
Cut down your work experience to make room for additional elements on your CV. Exclude work experience if it's more than 10 years old. Include the names of your previous employers, your job title for each position and the dates you worked on one line to save more space on your CV.
You can replace some of your work experience with a skills section if they relate to the position you're applying for. If you choose to focus more on your skills, write a brief paragraph on how you earned them.
For instance, if you're applying for an entry-level graphic design internship, underline the graphic design skills you've learned and give evidence on how you improved them. So, let's say you worked on a project that earned praise from a professor or a client. The explanation of your skills and how you developed them can indicate your potential for future success to your prospective employer.
Only include degrees under the education section.
List only the degrees you earned during your academic career to keep your CV concise. You might need to delete information about your dissertation, committees you served on and training you received while getting your education. Add this information to your educational background if it directly applies to the employer.
The exception to this would be if you're applying to an academic position. In these cases, you'll want to list your dissertation if directly applies to the future research or teaching you intend to do.
Proofread and edit carefully.
Spend more time proofreading your CV to get rid of the fluff, and replace it with relevant information associated with the job you're applying for. Read your CV out loud twice to yourself and make a list of errors found so you can address them after you finish reading. Contact a friend or your mentor to read over your CV to ensure that it's error-free. You might need to trim down a full section if you can add applicable information regarding your work experience.
Decrease font and margin size.
Decrease the font size and margins to get more content into fewer pages. However, keep in mind that font size improves your CV's readability, so keep it above 11-point font to maintain its legibility. Changing your margins to 0.75 inches gives you more space to expand your experience and accomplishments. You can add single line breaks between each heading to add more text and limit white space in your CV.
Remove in-progress projects and older conferences.
Consider only including projects that you've completed for employers or while you attended school. You may measure the results of completed projects to give them more credibility. For example, if you wrote an article for a company or an academic institution, find out the number of viewers who read your article. The results of your completed projects signal the output you can achieve while working at your prospective company.
If you're applying for an academic position, however, you might make an exception for any books or articles that are forthcoming in print. Publications are a crucial part of academia, so listing in-progress projects will show that you're active in your discipline.
If you spoke at multiple conferences, just list conferences you spoke at within the last five years. You can save room and emphasize important speaking engagements on subjects that attract an employer's attention.
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