How Long Should a CV Be? [+ Dos and Don’ts]

What to include in CV
Created by CakeResume

The importance of a strong resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV) can’t be stressed enough. They’re more than just a document, but a powerful tool for marketing and branding yourself. While a CV is commonly used for academic purposes, a resume serves the purpose of the job application. 

In general, CVs are used almost everywhere in the world including Asia, the UK, the European Union, and New Zealand in all contexts. Meanwhile, people in the US, Australia, and Canada prefer resumes. 

As mentioned earlier, you can submit a CV for other purposes aside from job applications. That makes it different from resumes, one of which is the CV length. In this article, we’ve rounded up a guide in terms of how long a CV should be, when and who to use, and writing tips.

What Is a CV?

CV stands for “Curriculum Vitae”, a Latin phrase meaning “course of life”.

It provides your professional and academic track in detail, including your:

  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Achievements & Awards
  • Publications
  • Research projects
  • Grants & honors
  • Scholarly and professional affiliations
  • etc. 

Simply put, a CV fully presents your qualifications, experience, and accomplishments throughout your academic and professional career. Based on this, employers and recruiters can determine whether you are qualified for open positions. 

The two major types of CV are job application CV and academic CV. 

Academic CV

An academic CV refers to a document used for academic purposes. It focuses on showing your contributions to a particular field of study or practice.

An academic CV is commonly used for academic, education, scientific, medical, fellowships and grants, or research positions. For example, you would use an academic CV when applying to enroll in a higher education institution like university or graduate school.

The ideal CV length for an academic CV depends on the list of publications, projects, achievements, awards and honors, etc. There are no restrictions on how long an academic CV can be as long as you include all important details.

This CV type is suitable for students, researchers, professionals, etc.

Job Application CV

A job application CV refers to a document required for a job search and application. It outlines your work history, skills, achievements, educational background, etc.

This CV type can be used for any type of job application.

The ideal CV length for a job application depends on the number of work experience, projects, awards and achievements, etc. that are to be included in the CV. The generally accepted length of a CV is 1-3 pages, though employers don’t prefer reading a CV which is too long and has information irrelevant to the job opening.

This CV type is suitable to be used by job seekers, especially executive and top-level professionals.

Check this article out to learn about the right CV formatting and layout

How Long Should a CV Be?

Whereas resumes are more concise and commonly written within one page, CVs are longer and list out more detail. Hiring managers do not have strict requirements or preferences on how long CVs should be. However, keep in mind that the more detailed they are, the more you show your qualifications and competencies. 

As noted earlier, the length of a CV can differ depending on the writer’s purpose. Read on to learn about when and who to use, as well as the pros & cons of each CV length.

One-page CV

  • When and who to use? 
    If you’re a freshman who is applying for an education program or you have just graduated and are seeking jobs at an entry-level, this CV length is ideal for you.
  • 🟢 Pros: Recruiters can quickly grab the highlights about you without going over too much information.
  • ❌ Cons: Recruiters may see that you have fewer professional experience.

Two-page CV

  • When and who to use? 
    If you have gained plenty of professional experience in a field of study or different jobs, this would be the ideal CV length for you.
  • 🟢 Pros: A two-page CV covers all of your experience, qualifications, and other necessary information. Hence, it works well for many applicants.
  • ❌ Cons: You may happen to list unnecessary details that are not related to the position you’re applying for.

Three-page (or longer) CV

  • When and who to use? 
    If you are at a high position or level such as Professor or C-suite executive or you have won many honors or achievements in the field, you can have a three-page or longer CV length.
  • 🟢 Pros: A long CV can provide all the details. Hence, recruiters can have a full picture of who you are and what you have achieved.
  • ❌ Cons: Recruiters may be more reluctant to finish reading a CV that is longer than 2 pages.

What Should Be Included in a CV?

🖋 Contact Information

Regardless of the purpose, your CV needs to cover your personal information. Think of this as the first introduction that you present to recruiters - that’s why it is particularly important.

Check the list below for the details that you should include:

  • Full name 
  • Professional title
  • Email
  • Phone number 
  • Complete address (optional) 
  • Social media page or personal website (optional)

💡 Reminder: Make sure your email address is professional, which is the most fundamental form of your online identity.

🖋 Educational Background

As CVs commonly serve the purposes of academic application, the education section is a key part. It should be presented in the reverse chronological order, starting with your highest level of education and moving backward in time for every subsequent degree. 

Here are the basic elements in the education section: 

  • School name (with location)
  • Degree level
  • Major & minor
  • Graduation year
  • GPA (recommended if it’s high)
  • Relevant coursework (recommended if it’s beneficial for your application) 
  • Academic honors (award, scholarship, publication)

Note that the content and placement can be adjusted accordingly to your seniority. For example, you should list this part ahead of the work experience section if you’re a fresh graduate with limit employment history. 

💡 Learn how to write a professional education section at Educational Qualification in CV/Resume.

🖋 Work Experiences

If you’re a job seeker, work experience plays an important role in your CV and determines the CV length. It fully demonstrates your skills, abilities, work history, and achievements in different roles in a proper manner. When writing a CV, you can include not only full-time jobs, but also part-time, contract, freelance work as long as they are relevant to the opening job. 

Basic elements in the work experience include: 

  • Organization/Company name (with location) 
  • Job title
  • Start and end of the employment period (should be written as Month/Year) 
  • Job responsibilities and accomplishments 

💡 Check out Work Experience Resume Samples for quick reference. 

🖋 Skills & Qualifications

The skills section shows hiring managers whether you’re a good fit for the opening position. Hence, write it properly and effectively to leave a great first impression and successfully achieve your dream.  

4 major ways to structure the skills section are by using: 

  • Simple bullet list
  • Expanded bullet list
  • Integrated with work experience
  • Categorized skills section 

No matter which format you’ll adopt to your CV, make sure to highlight both hard and soft skills. This way, recruiters not only evaluate your job-related qualifications but also determine whether you can fit into the organization. 

🖋 Awards & Honors

Awards and honors, known as achievements in general, are your successes that are both measurable and unique to your experience. The number of achievements you have will affect how long the CV is. This is also one assessment criteria that makes your CV stand out from the crowd. 

Examples of awards and honors listed on CVs: 

  • Academic achievements (i.e., Dean’s List, Scholarships, Honor Roll,…)
  • School leadership positions
  • Awards won for specific activities or subjects
  • Job-related awards (i.e., Employee of the Year, Top Performer,…)
  • Community & Civic awards

🖋 Licenses & Certifications

Particular industries such as academic, HR, Finance & Accounting, etc. require specific licenses and certifications. Hence, it’s a must to show these in your CV. If you’re applying for other positions, this is also highly recommended as certifications serve as a professional figure.

🖋 Scholarship

If you have received any scholarships or grants, it’s a great idea to showcase them on your CV. Especially for academic CVs, this is a good way to help you earn extra points. it is a good idea to mention them on your resume. 

Make sure to provide some background information about scholarships, for example: 

“Won a full MBA scholarship at New York University for excellent performance in undergraduate school.

🖋 Projects

The projects section is a key element in a CV for freelancers. However, you should also list out all projects to further express yourself, especially if they're relevant to the opening position.

Write this section similar to the work experience, meaning that you need to include:

  • Project name
  • Organization/Company name (with location)
  • Your main role and tasks 
  • Personal and project accomplishments 

🖋 Publications

In academic fields, the number of papers that you have published or contributed your work to can demonstrate your expertise. Thus, it’s important to include these in your CV to show recruiters that you have exceptional research and writing skills besides being a subject-matter expert. 

Examples of publications you can include on your CV: 

  • Academic or Research publication
  • Trade association magazine
  • Science/Research journal
  • Press publication
  • Book

What Should NOT be Included in a CV?

1. References

People used to advise applicants to include references on CVs, but this is outdated and inappropriate today. Unless specifically requested, references shouldn't be listed on CVs. 

The main concerns are the privacy of previous employers and the veracity of their feedback. By not including references, you can also save some space and keep your ideal CV length.

2. Salary information

As a rule of thumb, it’s always a NO to include salary information on your CV. By showing your expected or previous salary, you may mislead hiring managers and lose the opportunity of getting the interview. 

3. Religion, height, or weight

It’s improper to mention unnecessary personal details that might lead to discrimination (i.e., religion, political affiliation, marital status, identifying information, etc.) Including these information do not only waste space on your resume, but also may get you into trouble and make you unprofessional.

4. Unnecessary graphics

CVs with graphics are less likely to pass through ATS (Applicant Tracking System). It will also take up a lot of space and make your CV longer than it's supposed to be. An expert tip is you should only insert graphics if you’re working in such fields as web designers, advertising specialists, artists, and graphic designers.

With CakeResume’s resume builder tool, resume templates and resume examples, you could showcase your best qualifications to land your dream job. Try making a resume online (free download) now!

Tips to Keep Your CV for Job Application in the Right Length

✨ Make your profile statement more concise.

A profile statement is placed at the top of your CV to showcase a snapshot of your qualifications, experience, and achievements related to the position. Keep it within 4 sentences so recruiters can quickly get a picture of you. 

✨ List only 3-5 bullet points for role descriptions.

Bullet points is a great go-to format when listing out information. Readers find it organized, professional, and easy-to-review. For role descriptions, it’s a good idea to list 3-5 bullet points as you effectively provide enough information. 

✨ Focus on recent and relevant experiences.

They’re more than just a document, but a powerful tool for marketing and branding yourself. While a CV is commonly used for academic purposes, a resume serves the purpose of the job application. 

✨ Use smaller spacings, margin sizes, and font sizes.

Too much text affects your CV length - don’t panic. 

Try resetting smaller spacing, margin sizes, and font sizes instead of removing the text. This way, the content of your CV still remains the same.  

✨ Remove unnecessary graphics.

Sometimes, graphics can take up much space in a CV. As they are most times unnecessary and cannot be detected with an ATS scanner, consider excluding them to make more room for more important things on your CV.

✨ Remove the “hobbies and interests” section.

Strange as it seems, many of you include this particularly irrelevant in your CV. Employers don’t spend more than 30 seconds going over a single document. Thus, it’s important to avoid information that’s not related to the role. 

✨ Use action words to make your writing concise.

Action/power words can demonstrate your professional skills, tasks, and achievements at work better than neutral words. They also help express your strong intention to apply for the job.

💡 Check out the list of action verbs at 300+ Action Verbs for CV/Resume

✨ Adopt simple fonts.

Some of the widely-used fonts are Arial, Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, and Calibri. That will keep your CV look neat and professional, and they take less space compared to other decorative fonts.

🔑  Key Takeaways:

All in all, a CV is different from a CV, especially in terms of CV length and common uses. To determine how long your CV is, you should depend on the purpose of the document and which level you’re at. 

Besides that, it’s important to adopt the CV dos and don’ts and tips to maintain the ideal CV length and impress hiring managers. 

--- Originally written by May Luong ---

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