CV LENGTH GUIDELINES
Keep It Short One of the main questions asked about CVs is, “Do I have to include everything on one page?” The most common misconception of CV writing is that your entire professional history has to fit within one 8 ½”x11” page of white paper. The truth is, the CV should be well written and concise, and should promote your qualifications in the best possible light. This is sometimes impossible to do in one page.
Thus, a CV can extend to multiple pages, with some consideration depending on your career level. Be concise. This is critical. Do not use lengthy sentences and paragraph forms to disclose your experience and your education.
Employers want straight forward statements that highlight your qualifications. A CV is not a place to show your creative writing skills. Perfect your CV. You have second to catch your potential employer’s attention. Make sure that your CV is properly formatted, and you are not trying to fit too much copy on a single page of paper.
Create appropriate and professional sections for your CV. Your potential employer is more concerned with the look and content of your CV than with its length. Longer is not better when you don’t have the experience to meet your career objective. If you are new to the job market, are changing careers, or you’ve only had one job, stick to a one page CV.
If you don’t have the experience to meet your career objective, no matter the reason, do not apologize for it. Don’t try to fill up your CV with irrelevant content; instead do your best to highlight your transferable skills, and stick to the “short and sweet.” Unless you are applying for an executive-level job, or are composing curriculum vitae, your CV should not exceed two pages. The purpose of a well-written CV is to sell you as the best candidate for the job with a confident and a straight-forward approach.
Do not oversell your skills. Do not list more than three to five previous positions you’ve help. Stick to those skills and experiences that best meet the job requirements and your career objective. The most relevant information has to be included on the first page. The second page should be numbered, with your contact information included as well (just in case the pages are separated when printed, you don’t want your potential employer to discard the second page of your CV completely).
If you find yourself going over two pages, review your CV and make sure that you are not incorporating information that is irrelevant to your goals or to the position you are seeking. Make sure that your professional history warrants a CV that is three pages or longer. As mentioned above, unless you are a senior-or executive-level professional, or you are composing curriculum vitae, your CV should not extend to over two pages. If you have a longer CV, you will have to make sure that every statement on the CV is applicable to your career goals. If you have had decades of leadership experience for example, demonstrate that using the reverse chronological CV style and only list those jobs that best qualify you for the position you are seeking. If you need to include an extensive list of publications or certifications, your CV can take up more than three pages.
Make sure that the important information is still listed on the first page. This includes your career objective and professional profile, and your current or most recent professional experience. All subsequent pages need to be numbered, and include your contact information in the heading. YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION PRIORITIES
The most difficult and time consuming section of any CV is the listing of your work experience, no matter the level you have reached in your professional career.
If you have just graduated college and don’t have any full-time professional experience, you are concerned if your part time job and summer internship are enough to get your foot in the door. If you are a seasoned professional with extensive work experience, you are worried how to fit all of your hard work on only one page. If you are changing careers, you are unsure which skills best showcase your qualifications. Listing work responsibilities on our CVs doesn’t get easier as our career progresses.
The key is to consider your career objective and prioritize your work in accordance to your goals. When people are asked about work responsibilities, they have a tendency to disclose the routine items first.
This method can be a costly mistake for listing your professional experiences on your CV because it leaves all of the important and key qualifications at the bottom of the list. To avoid falling into this practice, first put together a list of your responsibilities on a sheet of paper. For your initial draft, don’t worry about how you are phrasing each statement – just make a list of everything that you do in your current or have done in your previous jobs. Once your list is completed, consider all of the responsibilities you have included.
What are the three most important items on the list for each job? How do those items relate to your career objective? Are there any other responsibilities you have listed that better support your career objective than the three you picked as the most critical to your job? You have to consider all these questions in order to prioritize your job descriptions on your CV. Begin each description with a power word, such as managed, developed, communicated, etc.
Make sure that the statements you list first quantify your achievements – don’t be afraid to list sales figured, customer acquisition rates, budget and time line successes, or any other figures which help put your responsibilities in a context of the business/field you are working in. Also, these statements should be aligned with your career objective. If you want to get a job in project management, letting your employer know that you managed a team of 20 people will effectively highlight your qualifications.
It is important to quantify your job description statements on your CV; however, as a word of caution, do not quantify all statements, just one or two that are most critical to your job and are goal driven.
This shows your employer that you think in terms of exceeding your goals. All subsequent descriptions of your responsibilities should support the first one or two items on your list. Prioritizing doesn’t only apply to your job descriptions, although it is the most commonly disregarded element in this particular area of the CV.
Achievements and qualifications are often misrepresented because they are not ordered properly. Same rules apply –consider which of your achievements and your qualifications are most complimentary to your career objective, and list them first. For example, if you are applying for a job in customer service, list your communication skills before your computer skills.
While both are important, your communication skills are more in line with your career objective, and therefore should take priority.
As a final test, put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Cross-check the job description and make sure that you address the qualifications required for the job with the information on your CV. Let your potential employer know you have what they are looking for, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.
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