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Lucie Mitchell

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more about Lucie Mitchell

HR tip: Length of CV

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Question:

How long and comprehensive should a CV be? I have been told it should be no more than two pages, but I have a varied career background and a lot of experience that I feel would be attractive to the employer of a job I intend to apply for. Two pages is nothing like enough to sell myself. Any advice?
 
Answer:

It is said that experienced but busy recruiters spend no more than eight seconds looking at a CV before deciding whether to call the applicant in for interview. They will learn little about you in those eight seconds. This of course is grossly unfair, but you need to deal with reality.

Moreover you need to recognise that the function of a CV is to get you an interview, not a job. It is your personal sales brochure. Therefore look carefully at the job for which you are applying. What do they really want? What elements of your skills and experiences are most likely to appeal to them? Concentrate on just this critical stuff and express it in a short CV – yes, no longer than both sides of a single, good quality white sheet of A4 paper. You can give them the other information if you are called for interview, though again, don’t give them more than they need otherwise you will dilute the important material.

One Response

  1. How Long Should a CV Be?
    Regardless of how long you have been working you should aim for a 2-page CV. If you have not been working long/are applying for a new job, you need to fill in plenty of information to sell your prospective skills, have a very detailed description of any commercial experience you have gained and elaborate on non-commercial experience that will equip you for the workplace (e.g. IT skills, education, outside interests that use communication, organisational skills etc). If you have a long and varied career employers will expect you to be able to distill it into brief, yet powerful points – if you can show that you can sift through a lot of information and then be able to summarise it effectively without losing any of its weight/meaning, you are already demonstrating a key attribute that many employers look for. As an experienced recruiter I am currently receiving between 50 and 100 CVs per day and have to run through them very quickly – the more concise and well laid out the CV is, the easier my job is and therefore you are more likely to be viewed favourably. Over the decade I’ve worked in recruitment I’ve also found, without exception, that the best candidates always have the clearest and most concise CVs – a reflection of their mental agility.

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Lucie Mitchell

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Lucie Mitchell
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