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Improving the length of your CV

The maximum recommended length of a CV is two pages, and well-written one page CVs can be (and frequently are) even better – and sometimes much better.

What is best, a one page or a two-page CV?

Nothing stands out like a one-page CV as long as it is well-written. And ‘well-written’ is the key phrase, because most one page CVs aren’t. But get it right and you can standout head and shoulders above the crowd. Moreover, the best one page CVs tend to get much better results than typical standard (two-page) CVs.

Please read more on the subject here…

Why do some people have longer CVs?

Some jobseekers do still cling on to the outdated notion that ‘more is more’ when it comes to CV writing, and a small minority of candidates (and some lesser recruiters) remain under the (false) impression that employers prefer long and rambling CVs that chronicle every element of your career in fine detail. As such, some people still apply for jobs with CVs of sometimes ridiculous proportions (the longest one submitted to us was over 50 pages long).

That said, it’s an outdated viewpoint, and these days most career sector professionals acknowledge that long CVs are not what employers want.

Indeed, it isn’t just career sector professionals who acknowledge this, most jobseekers are also aware of the two-page recommended maximum. Yet despite this many such jobseekers still have CVs that are longer (sometimes much longer) than this maximum, and struggle to refine their CV down to a better size. It isn’t for want of trying, it’s just that creative writing skills doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and some people struggle to do what you really need to do to achieve a better length.

So what you need to do?

Probably the best way to answer this is to explain how we go about things here at CV Succeed. I do go into detail about this more in my CV book (together with practical sessions), but essentially it revolves around making your message more concentrated (something that also ties in with sales and marketing principles).

When we write one page CVs for clients, we do so in a very concentrated manner. We are very meticulous, and take time choosing the right words so we can say more but in half (or sometimes a quarter or an eighth) of the words that the client used in their original CV (depending on the length of the original CV). As an analogy you can view our one page CVs as a small glass of concentrated fresh orange juice, as opposed to the alternative of a big jug of diluted, watery squash. It is a rough analogy, but essentially you can view the way we refine long and cluttered CVs down to concise job winning documents as wringing out the water from the big job of squash, bit by bit, until it has been transformed into a much neater, enticing and more concentrated glass of fresh orange.

With our one page CVs we still get across the major selling points of the original client CV, but we do so in a very deliberate and methodical manner that is designed to get your all-important sales message across to the employer more clearly, more effectively and more powerfully. Importantly, we still build up a picture about you and your career history, and we still ensure that your CV reads and flows well – and without resorting to shortcuts.

The reason I mention that this is important is because when some people (including some professional CV writers) try to refine down CV to one page they often resort to spurious tactics that frequently hinder, rather than help things. For example, some people use tiny fonts that are off-putting and difficult to read, whereas other writers resort to a type of shorthand, so rather than writing in clear and flowing English, their sentences are more start/stop with bits missing. Other times some writers churn out CV that consists largely of acronyms, including lesser-known acronyms (a bugbear of HR executives). Worse still, in their attempt to refine things down to just one page, some writers deliberately miss out some of the main achievements and some of the main relevant information. Writers who do this usually know that this isn’t a good idea, but they don’t have the writing skills to be able to achieve the Holy Grail that is one page CVs without cutting corners of taking shortcuts.

Pretty much anyone can write a one-page CV of sorts, but writing one that is clear, flows well and sends out a very powerful message that is specifically optimised for your target job are few and far between.

More tips on refining your CV down to a better length

The above information should give you an indication of some of the things that are involved when we transform on CVs into one page that documents for clients. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, and really it is a very specialist skill, and experience, creativity And natural writing talent to come into the equation. However, if you want to try it yourself here are some tips;

1> Assess your CV and identify not just what you need to include, but also what is arguably superfluous. Of course, some people think that nothing is superfluous. However, if your CV is over two pages in length it is pretty much inevitable that includes superfluous information already. If so, this can usually be excluded without any detriment (and usually with positive results).

2> Look out for repetition in your CV. If you find any repetition you should ask yourself is it really necessary? Reiterating something for effect is one thing, repeating it for no rhyme or reason is another.

3> Don’t resort to cheap shortcuts or shorthand. If you do this then inevitably your CV will be less enticing to read, which is very significant because you need to entice and engage with the reader if he/she is going to read it, sit up and take notice. Also, if you do resort to cheap shortcuts or shorthand then this badly reflects on your communication skills. This is very significant because many jobs require good communication skills, and ‘good communication skills’ is often cited as essential in job specifications.

4> Don’t resort to miniscule fonts. Some CVs are rejected on font size alone if it is not a comfortable size to refer the reader.

5> When refining your CV down don’t just think in terms of vertical length, also think in terms of horizontal length. Neat single line bullets are far better, and far more effective than the alternative of cluttered multiline entries.

6> Remember that you need to sell yourself, so don’t exclude important achievements. If need be try to be more creative in your writing.

I hope these tips help.
You know where we are if you need a helping hand.