One of the golden rules of CV writing is to make sure that the CV isn’t too long. The ideal length is two pages and there are good reasons for this. The average recruiter or hiring manager will skim read your CV to begin with. The longer the CV is, the harder it is to spot whether the CV has the relevant skills and experience for the role. Also, no-one feels they have time to plough through pages and pages of content. So, if your CV is exceptionally long, there is a good chance it won’t even be looked at.
The more skills and career history you have built up, the harder it can be to keep your CV to two pages. Don’t worry though; there are lots of things you can do to cut it back without losing the ability to convince the recruiter that you are the perfect person for the role. Here is the advice that I regularly give to my clients when they ask me for help with their CV.
Set your margins to ‘narrow’ in Word
You can quickly and easily change the settings of the margins of your CV in Word to make them narrower. By choosing Word’s ‘narrow’ setting, instead of the default ‘normal’ setting you will gain valuable extra space. The length of the CV will reduce instantly and you can do this at any point of writing the CV. Here’s a quick video to show you how.
What not to do: don’t be tempted to ‘set custom margins’. The ‘narrow’ margins setting will make sure that none of your CV is missing when it is printed off. If you set custom margins, there is a danger that you won’t leave enough space for the printer to cope with.
Reduce any jobs that you had 10 years ago (or longer) to one bullet point
When adding previous jobs to your CV, you will usually include details of your responsibilities or achievements about each role. However, any jobs that you held 10 years ago (or longer), can be reduced to just one bullet point. The logic behind this is that you will (usually) have done more complex, interesting, or more relevant things in your more recent roles. So, when adding information about your jobs from a long time ago, the only information you need to include for each of these roles is: your job title, the name of the company you worked for, the location (i.e. ‘London’) and the dates you worked there. The only times I would advise against doing this are:
a) If there were particular skills you used for these roles (that you haven’t used since then) that are needed for the job you are applying for.
b) You have had a career break and haven’t worked for some time, so your experience from 10 years ago is still relevant.
The image below shows you how you can present the older roles on your CV. I’ve highlighted them by using a yellow box to make it clearer for you to see which part of the CV to be looking at (when writing your CV, there’s no need to add the yellow box).
Remove unnecessary information to free up space
When taking a close look at your CV, you may realise that you have included information because you think it ‘should’ be on there. Perhaps you have seen a CV template online that contains these things; or a well meaning friend has suggested you include them. Well, the good news is, that a lot of this type of information can be cut straight away, freeing up valuable space for more important details. Some of the information that you don’t need to include on your CV includes:
- Your home phone number because your mobile number is enough (unless you only have a home phone number).
- Your date of birth.
- Whether or not you have a driving licence (unless a driving licence is needed for the job you are applying for).
- The words ‘references available upon request’ at the bottom of your CV.
- If you have been working for 10 years or more, there is no need to include your GCSE or O’level results on your CV.
- Your marital status.
Consider removing the ‘Hobbies & Interests’ section
If you don’t have any ‘real’ or impressive hobbies and interests, you don’t need a ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section on your CV. A lot of people worry about what to include in this section and try to fill it with generic activities like, ‘I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and going to the cinema.’ It can be a relief to realise that you don’t need to have this section at all. However, if you do have some genuine hobbies and interests e.g. you do charity work; you play sport for a team, or have completed impressive sporting events, then I would recommend keeping this section in.
Need more help with your CV?
I’ll be creating more blogs that give a lot of advice about how to write a perfect CV, which you can sign up to receive here. If you have a CV that you would like me to take a look at for you; please feel free to send it to me and I will do a free CV video review for you. If you would like me to write your CV for you, you can find more details about my CV writing service here.
Fay Wallis is a Career Coach with a background in HR and Recruitment. She is the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching, where she helps people in their 30s, 40s and 50s overcome their career challenges with confidence. Fay creates free resources via blogs, videos and templates to help tackle many of the career issues her clients come up against. To have her latest resources sent to you as soon as they are created just sign up here.