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CV Length: How Long Should Your CV Be in 2024?

CV Length: How Long Should Your CV Be in 2024?

While the rules around the length of your CV could indeed be flexible, things get pretty harsh when it comes to the elements your application should consist of. Let’s dive deeper.

How long should my CV be - that’s one of the top questions career advisors around the world get.

Some applicants think your CV shouldn’t go beyond 1 page. Ever.

Others actually believe there’s no recommended CV length - just go with the flow.

But the truth is - the length of your CV depends on the location. There are countries where all CVs should generally be no longer than one page.

And in the UK, things are more flexible. Which could make it a bit harder to recognise what the best approach (and length!) for your CV is.

First and foremost, let’s start by saying that submitting a CV that’s either too short or too long can cost you your whole application.

While the rules around the length of your CV could indeed be flexible, things get pretty harsh when it comes to the elements your application should consist of. Let’s dive deeper.

The key elements of your CV

Your CV can generally be divided into 3 bits:

Having so many key elements means that the length of your CV will be, to some extent, dependent on the amount of information you choose to share.

This also points to the fact that being mindful of what you include in your CV is an absolute must.

Otherwise, you risk applying for your dream job with a CV that’s too long for anyone to read.

But on the other hand, let us not forget that you can include all these sections and still end up with a CV that’s only half a page long. Ugh.

So what does the length of your CV depend on then? Let’s see.

The main factors influencing CV length

Like it or not, personal preference shouldn’t play a role when determining the length of your CV.

It doesn’t matter whether you’d like your CV to be 1 or 10 pages. This should rather be decided upon three other crucial factors:

  • Career stage and experience level
  • Industry
  • Self-assessment

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

How your experience could influence your CV length

Generally speaking, the more experience you have, the longer your CV could be.

This means that recent graduates and young professionals should strive to fit their CVs on just one page.

What should you do if your CV is a bit longer? Well, this could be fixed by slightly decreasing the font size, using a thinner font, but most of all - prioritising the information you add.

And if you have 3+ years of experience, you could afford to submit a 2-page CV next time you’re applying for a job.

Actually, if you think there’s much to share about your previous job, your achievements, and your skills, then a two-page CV would be entirely appropriate to use.

Just make sure everything you include adds value to your application. If it doesn’t, then you’d be better off without it.

Industry-specific considerations for the length of your CV

We talked about the 1-2 pages rule.

But! Some industries allow for and even require a longer curriculum vitae.

For instance, if you are an academic with over 10 years of experience, your CV could even go to 3 or 4 pages in length. Because the employer would need to see your vast experience.

But if you’re employed in finance, marketing, IT, business, design, hospitality, etc., then you’d be expected to follow the 1-2 pages rule.

Most important of all, however, is the employer’s personal preference. If the job advert states something along the lines of “All applicants should submit a 3-page CV and two references” then this is what you do. Even if you are a recent graduate.

Determine the right CV length through self-assessment

Self-assessment can be quite difficult if you don’t have an objective you’re aiming for.

To make this process easier, we’ve selected 3 questions to guide you on your way to assessing the length of your CV. Let’s look at each of them:

Question #1: What is my level of experience?

Are you a junior, mid-level, or senior expert? In addition to looking at your previous job title (if any), you can also keep in mind the years of experience you have.

Here’s a very general frame to help you:

  • Junior / Entry-level = 0-2 years of experience
  • Mid-level = 3-5 years of experience
  • Senior-level = 5+ years of experience

Keep in mind that this framework is only relevant if you have the necessary years of experience in one field.

This means that if you have 10 years of combined work experience but you’ve actually spent:

  • 4 years working as a waiter,
  • 1 year working as a copywriter,
  • 2 years in customer support,
  • and only 3 years ago you started working in paid search,

you’d be considered a mid-level expert in the field of paid search. Despite the fact that you joined the workforce 5+ years ago.

Question #2: Have I included all the necessary sections?

Let’s quickly run through the required sections you should always aim to include in your CV:

  • Personal details - includes your name, email address, and phone number. Could also include current position if relevant
  • Work experience - includes all your (relevant) past positions
  • Key skills - includes both soft and hard skills (again, only those that could be deemed relevant)
  • Education
  • Achievements - these could be both personal and professional

If you feel stuck, our guide ‘How to Write a Powerful CV’ could be a great starting point!

You’ve included all these sections already? Good, you can move on to the last question!

But if you haven’t - you would want to add what’s missing first.

Remember - one of the main reasons recruiters want to see your CV before inviting you to an interview is because they want to see whether you’re the right candidate. So use all sections to prove this.

Expert advice: How to tailor your CV to the job

Question #3: Have I sought feedback from someone I trust?

Being objective about a CV you’ve worked on for several hours could be really challenging.

The truth is that looking at something we’ve created could make us think it’s better (or, for that matter, worse) than it actually is.

That’s where showing your CV to a career counsellor, mentor, friend, or anyone else you trust comes in handy.

Getting the opinion of someone who hasn’t spent even a minute working on your CV is a great way to gain clarity and see if there are any feedback points worth considering.

And if the person providing feedback is not a professional career counsellor, here are some questions you could use to guide them:

  • Is my CV visually appealing?
  • Does going through my CV feel overwhelming?
  • Is there any piece of information you don’t understand?
  • Is there a way you think my CV could be improved?

And this is just a starting point.

If you prefer to get help from a real expert, you should consider getting in touch with one of our career counsellors. They’ll help you craft a CV that’s both personal and professional.

4 steps to building a concise CV

It’s easy to go over the 1-2 pages limit. We know it.

Especially if you have many things to be proud of. Or if you aren’t sure what information could be skipped and what couldn’t.

Here are 4 simple steps to help you build a concise yet truly effective CV.

Step #1: Prioritize relevant information

Prioritising only relevant information is a crucial aspect of CV length.

But which information is relevant?

Well, the main rule to follow is just that - prioritise.

Divide the information into three sections: must-have, nice-to-have, and not-important.

Then, start by adding the things from your ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ sections to your CV first.

If you’re a recent graduate or don’t have much experience in the field, however, this might not be enough to have a full one-page CV.

And this is where transferable skills will come into play.

What are transferable skills?

In short, these are universal skills that, if presented correctly, can match any job and industry.

Some examples of transferable skills include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Conflict-management skills
  • Proactivity
  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Creative problem-solving

Choose 2-3 that you know will help you in your dream job. And don’t forget about the main rule - prioritise highlighting the things that will make you stand out!

Step #2: Use bullet points

Bullet points could help you save space and optimise your CV for readability.

Here is an example to prove this.

Let’s take the sentence ‘My key responsibilities working for this company included the preparation of weekly reports and participating in client meetings, but I was also an active member of the onboarding new joiners community’.

If we use bullet points, the above sentence could look like this:

Key responsibilities:

  • Preparing weekly reports
  • Participating in client meetings
  • Onboarding new joiners

See the difference?

Using bullet points will make your CV more digestible and less overwhelming.

And if there are some things you’d really want to highlight… it’s time to turn to what’s considered every successful applicant’s best friend.

Here comes the achievements section!

Step #3: Highlight achievements and impact

The achievements section could be as short as 2-3 bullet points.

Yeah, you could also fit these bullet points in your CV summary, or the experience section.

But having a dedicated achievements section will surely help you stand out without adding too much to the length of your CV.

Here’s an example:

Reduced costs by 24%
Came up with a cost-optimisation strategy that reduced costs by 24% QoQ

Think of your biggest achievement and how it relates to your application and the job.

Remember - this would be one of the first things recruiters and hiring managers will see when they look at your CV.

But it’s not just the achievement section that needs to be relevant to the job. Your whole CV needs that.

Step #4: Tailor your CV to each job application

Different hiring managers value different things.

Showing them you have what they want is crucial for winning their hearts and minds. And is exactly what it takes for them to invite you to an interview.

And to make things better, tailoring your CV to the job can also impact the length of your CV positively.

Let’s face it - adding every detail about your education or job history would inevitably make your CV too long.

The sections that would be impacted by this are:

  • Summary,
  • Experience section,
  • Skills section,
  • Achievements section;

If a skill/achievement is mentioned in the job advert and is relevant to you, add it to your CV. But if you’re not sure whether it adds value to your application, skip it.

Another good idea would be to use the same wording as recruiters to make sure you pass applicant tracking systems (ATS). This is a specific software used by recruiters to pre-screen candidates based on keywords.

Did you know that not all CV templates are ATS-friendly? Here are some free ATS-compliant templates for you to use.

Time for a recap: Mastering CV length

Generally speaking, applicants in the UK should stick to CVs that are 1-2 pages long.

There are some industries that allow for longer CVs - like the academic industry.

But the most important thing you could do is check the job advert. Does it say anything specific? Is there a length requirement?

If not, you could determine the ideal length of your CV by:

  • Considering your level of experience
  • Including all main CV sections
  • Seeking feedback from someone you trust

You could rely on self-assessment. Or for better results, you could also turn to an experienced career counsellor for help.

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a CV expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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