How Many Pages a resume or CV Should Have

Published: 05th January 2009
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A number of recruitment professionals prefer a one-page CV that is compact, clear, concise, and relevant to the job because of the sheer volume of CVs they receive and the time it takes to sort them. However, this is not a rule of thumb, and you cannot sacrifice your CV's readability to make it conform to any arbitrary "rules" about CV length. As Grant Cooper, president of Strategic Resumes notes in the resume Critique Writer software that he authored: "Brief resumes are simply no longer effective in today's increasingly competitive job market," he said. "The advice that 'They only want to see one-page resumes,' is perhaps the single most outdated and incorrect statement job-seekers hear today."

Surveys show that employers who prefer a one-page CV are in the minority, and the situational view is prevalent, as Mark Gillespie, Certified Senior Account Manager, Management Recruiters/Sales Consultants of Arlington Heights says: "I have no problem with a 2 or sometimes even 3 page CV, if the candidate's background and accomplishments warrant it. When they try to cram too much on a 1 page CV they end up reducing the font size and if they fax it you can't read it most of the time. Also for more seasoned or highly talented people there is no way they can give you a good idea of what they have done in just one page, they always end up leaving too much out and if the CV has no substance then I just toss it."

As writer Susan Britton Whitcomb discovered while researching her popular book, Resume Magic (JIST Works): "I conducted a survey of HR managers from some of the Top 100 Companies to Work for (from the book of the same name by Levering and Moskowitz)," Whitcomb relates. "One survey question asked their opinions as to the length of a resume." The results revealed that 12 percent of respondents felt resumes should be "one-page, never longer;" 67 percent felt resumes should be "kept to one or two pages;" and 21 percent responded "as long as needed to convey the applicant's qualifications."

In today's job market, a two-page CV is generally accepted as the norm, particularly if you are above entry-level but below the executive level. On average, CVs should not go beyond three pages. When designing your CV, you should always bear in mind that employers have a business to run. They are not in business to interview job applicants, and sifting through thousands of pages of CVs is a costly, time-consuming exercise to them.

Virtually every recruitment expert we spoke to indicated that each individual situation dictates CV length. From their expertise, we have developed some guidelines to help you determine the right length for your CV:

When to use one-page CVs

1. For recent university graduates and other entry-level job seekers, a one-page CV is recommended in the following circumstances:

 If you do not have enough relevant experience to fill more than one page;

 Your CV must meet a specific one-page requirement.

 If the CV spills beyond one page, but you have less than a half a page of material for the second page, it may be best to condense the CV to one page.

2. If you are pursuing a career change, much of your experience may not be relevant to the new job.

 Focus on the relevant skills you have obtained

 Do not stretch your information to cover more than one page if you cannot relate it to your current goal in some way.

When to use two-page CVs

1. Some recent university graduates and entry-level job seekers may have the background and experience to qualify for a two-page CV, which is recommended in the following circumstances:

 There is extensive relevant internship, summer-job, extracurricular, leadership, and sports experience that justify a two-page CV; and

 There is no restriction on CV length.

2. A two-page CV is recommended for candidates above entry-level positions, but below the executive level.

When to use three or more page CVs

The average length of most technical CVs for IT professionals is 4.5 pages. This is because technical CVs contain additional sections such as "Technical Skills" and "Certifications" which are absent in other industries. In addition, if you are a senior-level manager/executive, your CV may require three or more pages. It is recommended that senior career people focus on the last 5-8 years of accomplishments rather than older experience that is not directly relevant to the targeted position.

As the job market becomes ever more competitive, you may need to use multiple pages to persuade a potential employer to grant you an interview. However, unless employers specifically ask for a one or two page CV, you should have as many pages as it is necessary to tell your story and yet keep it coherent, organised, relevant and interesting. If you are having problems formatting your CV into two or three pages, there are professionally designed CV templates available that can help you do that and at the same time, help you focus on quality and not quantity. offers career adviceto help aspiring individuals develop a successful career. For more career related articles visit our site

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