CV Lengths And How To Know Which One Is Right For You

By Graeme Jordan (CV Writer / Interview Coach / professional Marketer)

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How long should my CV be? The big question. It has generally been understood that a CV should be no longer than two pages. Although this is often the case, nowadays there is room for negotiation.

It depends on who you are and what you do. Below is a guide that explains when a CV of a different length might be appropriate. Please note that your individual circumstances might be different. Someone who has just left school and has no experience might still be able to complete two pages if they have numerous community activities, sporting achievements and/or academic projects and prizes that they can include.

In summary, these are my guidelines on the appropriate number of pages for a CV:

When a one page CV is acceptable

  • If it’s your first job since leaving school (as long as all your relevant achievements are included)
  • If you are writing a Resume for a US employer – which is also something I write when necessary. However, US employers will accept a two-page resume if it is justifiable.
  • In some cases, if you have numerous CVs to present as part of a tender document; you may want to keep all of them to summary form.

When a two page CV is required

  • If in any doubt. This should be the default length.
  • As this is considered the ‘usual’ length for a CV, it is suitable for anyone who has worked in more than one job
  • If you have just graduated from university/college, then one page is not enough and your experience doesn’t justify any more than two pages.
  • If you are in the process of changing careers, as too long a CV might lead to the content being focussed on the wrong things. Sticking to the standard length allows you to make more of an impact.

When a three page CV may be appropriate

  • When you have lots of relevant experience i.e. for very senior roles and you have made every effort to keep the relevant achievements in each role as succinct as possible.
  • In any case where you have lots of relevant content that can be effectively presented and categorised into appropriate sections. Taking up extra space for a long employment section does not justify an additional page, but adding an extra section or two that is relevant to the job might.

When it comes to three page CVs, one of my favourite techniques is to compose a standard two page CV but then use the third page to add something totally new. From my experience, the best examples include:

  • I particularly use this for academics, in which case I sometimes write a two page CV plus a page of publications.
  • If you are part of the creative sector, then your additional page could be used to present your best pieces of work. For further advice on creative CVs see http://graemejordancv.com/cvs-for-the-creative-sectors/

The most important note to remember is that if you are choosing to deviate from the ‘usual’ two page CV, then it has to be clearly justified.

Graeme Jordan is a CV Writer and Interview Coach who helps candidates at all levels in a range of industries to get interviews and get selected. See more at www.GraemeJordanCV.com

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