How Long Should a CV Be? (Definition and Advantages)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How to Write a CV for a Job Application: Step by Step Guide

Employers review a candidate's curriculum vitae (CV) when seeking new team members for open positions. A CV highlights a person's accomplishments in previous academic and professional positions. Understanding how long to make a CV can help you ensure hiring managers understand the experience you can offer their organization. In this article, we explain what a CV is, answer the question, "How long should a CV be?", explore CV optimization, and review the advantages of both long and short CVs.

What is a CV?

A CV is a document you can use to illustrate your skills, experience, and accomplishments within your academic and professional career. An academic CV typically emphasizes peer review of your experiences and a professional CV is more of a marketing tool to engage potential employers. Any individual can create a CV regardless of their professional or academic experience. It's common to format CVs in reverse-chronological order, beginning with your education and including publications or essays relevant to your career experience.

Related: How to Write a CV

How long should a CV be?

If you're writing a CV for the first time or looking to optimize the quality of your CV, you may ask, "How long should a CV be?" The length of your CV can vary depending on your experience and whether you're sending an academic or professional CV. Typically, professional CVs are approximately two to three pages, because they focus more on professional experience than academic accomplishments. Here are the key elements to include in both type of CVs:

Professional CV

When you're creating a professional CV, you can use the job description as a guide. The job description can help you determine the number of pages to include based on the degree of experience required for the role. A professional CV includes the following information:

  • Contact information: The contact section of your CV typically includes information such as your name, location, phone number, and e-mail address.

  • Education: Your professional CV typically includes an overview of your degrees and your academic history.

  • Work history and experience: In this section of your CV, you may include previous job roles, volunteer experiences, and laboratory or field experience.

  • References: The references are a section on your CV that includes contact information for anyone who refers you to a potential employer.

Academic CV

An academic CV may contain 10 or more pages because it provides detailed information about your education, professional experience, publications, grants, awards, and fellowships. Individuals with limited work experience, such as graduate students, may choose to summarize their academic background on a single page. Academic CVs contain the information of a professional CV with additional details, such as:

  • Interests: Your academic interests are an excellent way to highlight your career goals and passions on your CV.

  • Education: Academic CVs provide more details about your educational background and such as highlighting your dissertation if you have one available.

  • Awards and grants: A CV allows you to present your accomplishments to potential employers.

  • Publications and presentations: You can include your university publications, books, or conference presentations in this section.

  • Professional or scholarly memberships: If you're a member of a professional organization, you can use your CV to showcase your membership.

Related: What to Include in a CV (With Tips to Help You Write One)

How can you optimize the length of your CV?

If you're asking "How long should a CV be?" you may also wonder how you can optimize the length of your CV. By optimizing your CV, you ensure you include only the most crucial information. Here are some tips to help shorten your CV:

Reduce the length of your personal profile

Similar to a resume's summary statement, the personal profile on your CV summarizes your accomplishments and career objectives. Your CV profile describes who you are personally, what type of employee you are, and why you're qualified for the position. Consider your most valuable skills, how you can use them, and your career goals. You might reduce your CV's personal profile to a few sentences to help the hiring manager review it more efficiently.

Describe your work experience concisely and emphasize your skills

It may be beneficial to exclude work experiences older than 10 years. Instead of describing your previous jobs, list the most essential information, such as the names of your former employers, your previous job titles, and the dates of employment. Depending on how relevant your skills are to the position, you may consider replacing some of your work experience with a skills section. To emphasize your skills, consider summarizing how your educational background, personal experiences, and previous positions help you develop your skills.

Write clearly and concisely

The primary purpose of a CV is to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers to persuade them to interview you and further discuss your experiences and skills. Using lengthy statements can make your CV several pages long and detract from the main points. Using bullet points, eliminating unnecessary pronouns, and avoiding multiple filler words can help you clarify your writing. You can also save space on your CV and make it easier to read by keeping your statements brief.

Related: Guide to Writing a Professional CV

Limit your education section to a list of your degrees

To keep your CV concise, only list the degrees you earned during your academic career. It may be necessary to remove information about your dissertation, committees you served on, and training you received while earning your degree. You can provide more details about your educational background if it applies to a prospective employer. For example, if your dissertation relates to your plans as a researcher or teacher, it's important to include it in the educational section of your CV.

Adapt your CV to the business or position

You can adapt the CV to suit the company or role you're pursuing. Different job roles within a company require distinct skill sets, such as interpersonal skills, analytical skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. A CV allows you to tailor your information according to the position you're seeking. Consider using the company's website or social media accounts and tailoring your CV to the company's or department's interests.

Proofread and edit your CV carefully

You can increase the quality of your CV by removing non-essential information and replacing it with materials related to the position you're seeking. It may be helpful to read your CV aloud to identify any grammatical errors. You may also consider asking a friend or mentor to review your CV for you to ensure that it meets all the quality requirements.

Related: Good CV Examples (With Additional Tips for Effective CVs)

Maintain consistency

If you decide to format the document in a particular way, maintain consistency by using that format throughout the entire document. For example, if you choose to use a bold font in a header, check that all the headers use the same bold typeface. A CV that is error-free and formatted consistently can demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail to employers.

Reduce the font size and margin size

When you're writing a CV you can reduce the font size and page margins to fit more information on fewer pages. It's important that you maintain the legibility of the document when decreasing its font size. After reducing the font size, review the document to make sure it's still easily readable for potential employers. You may also consider adding single line breaks between the headings of your CV to add more text and reduce the amount of white space in the document.

Take out upcoming projects and older associations

Consider only including the projects you completed while attending school or working for an employer. By measuring the results of completed projects, you can lend them greater credibility. For example, if you wrote an article for a company or an academic institution, find out how many people read your article.

Results of your completed projects represent the outcomes you can achieve when working for a prospective employer. If you're applying for an academic position, you may make an exception for your upcoming books or articles. As publications are a vital part of academic life, listing your current research efforts can demonstrate your active involvement in your field.

What are the advantages of a long CV?

There may be some job seekers with relevant work experience spanning over ten years who benefit from a longer CV. To convey the significance of your skills and experiences on a CV, you may require more pages. Having publications, speaking engagements, professional courses, licenses, or certifications on your academic CV may require you to extend your CV to three or more pages. Your CV is a marketing tool that illustrates why you're the right candidate for the job. Highlighting your qualifications and achievements in more detail can make your suitability clear to employers.

What are the advantages of a short CV?

Short CVs are ideal for entry-level employees, postsecondary graduates, and individuals with a few years of professional experience. You may benefit from a short CV if you're changing careers and have limited experience relevant to your alternative career path. Employers may review many applications during their hiring periods. Short CVs may decrease the time it takes hiring managers to sort through many applications, resulting in greater efficiency. In a competitive job market, a short CV is also beneficial because it outlines all your qualifications and experiences on the front page.

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