How Long Should a CV be? A Guide, with Tips
Written by Mike Potter, Author • Last updated on 22 May 2024

How Long Should a CV be? A Guide, with Tips

The length of your CV can have a significant impact on your job prospects. If your CV’s too long, you might lose the attention of the reader. If it’s too short, you might struggle to convince employers that you’re right for the role. So, how long should a CV be? In this article, we discuss the ideal CV length, with a guide to making your CV the right length for your job application.

The Importance of CV Length

When employers receive job applications, they don’t just read the CVs. They make a series of judgments about the document. Of course, this includes the content, but they will also pay attention to the layout, design and length of the document.

The length of your CV can say a lot about you. A CV that’s too long can reveal a lack of discipline in editing your document or a lack of focus regarding your best qualities. A long CV also risks making the applicant appear arrogant and over-confident in their achievements. On the other hand, a short CV can have similar effects, placing too much emphasis on a handful of skills and achievements.

It’s also important to consider the recruiter or hiring manager when you write your CV. The ideal CV length is one that strikes a balance between proving that you’re the best candidate for the job, while respecting the time and attention of the hiring manager.

How Long Should Your CV be?

The perfect length of a CV depends on various circumstances, including your experience, the type of job you’re applying for and the industry sector. In the past, CVs traditionally provided a detailed summary of a person’s work history, achievements and skills. These could run to several pages in length, but as the jobs market has become more competitive, average CV length has reduced.

In the UK, it’s common to hear people describe the ideal CV length as one or two pages of A4. This length ensures your CV is concise and minimises the amount of time it takes to read it. Employers might routinely receive hundreds of CVs for a single job opening, and reading CVs longer than one or two pages can be time-consuming.

Another argument for keeping your CV short is that it requires you to be economical about what you include. The process of stripping your document back to its bare essentials can be helpful, as it should make it easier for recruiters to pick out the relevant details. There are some circumstances, though, where a longer CV may be desirable or even necessary. 

Expert Tip:

A strong CV is an exercise in efficient communication. Only mention experience and skills that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Focus on your unique achievements, rather than everyday job duties, and avoid repeating yourself. You only have to prove a certain skill or experience once.

How many pages should a CV have?

The number of pages in your CV is likely to depend heavily on your experience, and the type of job you’re applying for. If you’re just starting out in your career and applying for entry-level jobs, you might not have very much experience to write about in your CV. Rather than padding your CV out with unnecessary detail to appear better qualified, it’s probably best to remain concise. You may also find that employers don’t expect long, detailed CVs for junior positions, and are satisfied with one well-filled page of information.

As you progress to mid-level roles, you might find it difficult to contain your experience and skills on a single side of A4. If you’ve had several relevant jobs and accumulated various desirable skills over the course of your career, you’ll want to share as much of this information as possible. At this stage, it’s acceptable to expand your CV to two pages. Remember, though, to remain concise and economical with the content of your document, and don’t add detail for the sake of it.

If you’re highly experienced and you’re applying for senior job openings, you might find it necessary to produce a more detailed document running to several pages. Employers will expect you to have plenty of experience, and if they’re hiring for an important role within an organisation, they’ll want to see evidence of your credentials.

As well as differences according to experience, CV length can differ by industry sector. Creative industries such as marketing are likely to favour short, snappy CVs that catch the eye of the reader and get straight to the point. However, some industry sectors, such as law, finance, education and academia, might favour longer CVs that provide greater detail on your achievements and work history.

The number of pages in your CV is likely to depend heavily on your experience, and the type of job you’re applying for.

How do I shorten my CV?

You can shorten your CV in two ways: by editing the content and by adjusting the layout. Both approaches can make your CV more readable, and help it make a more positive impression with hiring managers. Here are some tips for making your CV shorter:

Adjust your margins

If you’re creating your CV in Word, it’s likely to have fairly wide margins by default. You can probably afford to make your margins narrower without adversely affecting the readability of the document. Just remember not to make them too narrow, as this can make your CV appear over-crowded. CVWizard has a wealth of templates and tools to make your CV layout more attractive and readable.

Resize your font

Finding an optimal font size for readability and space efficiency can help to reduce the length of your CV. Try for a font size between 10 and 12 points. Each font works slightly differently at each size point, so if you want to save space, choose a font that’s clear and readable at size 10.

Adjust line spacing

Similar to adjusting your font size, reducing line spacing can help you to save space. Consider using single line spacing, but with a space before or after each paragraph (6pt or 12pt), to ensure your content is still easy to read. CVwizard has various CV templates that provide optimal line spacing for a readable document.

Add horizontal contact details

Your contact details can take up several lines of valuable space on your CV. Presenting your contact details on a single line can open up space for more valuable content.

Mention only the most relevant details

You may have heard that it’s detrimental to leave gaps in your CV. This could leave you thinking you need to mention every previous employment, but if it’s not relevant to the role you’re applying for, it doesn’t add anything to your application. Mention only particularly relevant details. You can always address gaps in your cover letter or during your interview.

Limit your bullet points

You might be tempted to write extensive details of your work experience, but limiting your bullet points can be a real space saver. Try to distill your experience in each role into three key bullet points that prove your impact.

Mention achievements instead of duties

When describing your work experience, think about your achievements rather than your duties. Your duties are likely to be similar to other candidates with the same experience as you, but your achievements are unique to you.

Remove references

You might be tempted to add references to your CV, but most employers won’t need these until they get to the stage of considering a job offer. If they want to see your references, they’ll ask for them, so save this valuable space on your CV for something else.

Common Misconceptions About CV Length

One of the most common misconceptions about your CV is that it needs to include your complete work history. This is an outdated approach, and can actually undermine your chances. Add only details that are absolutely necessary for proving you can do the job, as these are the things employers will be looking for. Some employers will even be more impressed by a brief CV that efficiently explains why you’re suitable for the role.

Another misconception is that there are no hard and fast rules about CV length. The best CV length is the one that concisely demonstrates why you’re right for the job. This means communicating your qualities and experience in the most efficient way possible. If that results in a one-page CV, great. If it stretches to two pages of valuable, useful information, that’s fine as well.

Final Thoughts on How Long a CV Should Be

The purpose of your CV is to grab the attention of employers and show you have the necessary skills and experience to warrant an interview. You should aim to do this as efficiently as possible. Shorter CVs tend to make a positive impact on employers, as long as they include relevant details and show your skills. A clear, readable CV layout can help you to demonstrate your worth with maximum efficiency. CVwizard’s tools and resources make it easy to create a beautiful CV that makes an impact on employers, so sign up today to get started with your winning CV.

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Mike Potter
Mike Potter
Mike Potter is an experienced copywriter specialising in careers and professional development. He uses extensive knowledge of workplace culture to create insightful and actionable articles on CV writing and career pathways.

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