No matter where you look: there is a lot of advice floating around suggesting that your CV should not exceed 2, and in some cases, 1 page of length. While this might be doable for someone just starting their career, it is completely unfeasible for someone who has five, ten, or even more years of experience under their belt, and heavy cuts ultimately lead to the CV not being sufficient enough to deliver on what it is made for – conveying all the information required to land you a job.
Think about it: your CV is your tool to highlight the advantages and values that you can bring to an organization. To some extent, it is akin to selling yourself, because the company has a need (an opening) that you can satisfy. But if you don’t convey your value to the employer, how would they know that you are the perfect fit? Highlighting your competencies, skills, and knowledge requires content, and content requires space. Employers react to quantified achievements instead of statements commending yourself. Here is why the 2-page CV argument is detrimental for your applications:
This argument mainly originates from recruiters, not companies. Recruiters are paid by companies to introduce suitable candidates, and therefore spent the majority of their day tracking down individuals who have the right qualifications and competencies. Doing so, they review hundreds of CVs every week, and a shorter CV drastically reduces the time they require to establish whether a candidate is proficient, before they submit an edited version of your CV to the company. Mind that many recruiters are only paid when they successfully introduce candidates, so reviewing CVs does not get them money – therefore, they naturally try to reduce the time spent doing so. HR staff in companies, however, typically reviews less CVs and therefore cares more about quality than quantity – and they need to establish from the very start whether you are suitable or not.
Your CV can be considerably longer, given that you have a proper summary. Having a top-notch executive summary at the very top of your CV allows the reader within second to figure out whether your profile is suitable for the opening or not. Ideally, they will learn who you are, what you offer, and what you are looking for – all neatly packed into three sentences. If they can establish from this summary that you are a qualified candidate, a long CV is actually beneficial, as your profile is relevant to the opening and they can learn as much as possible about you. Stay tuned for a separate article about the importance of a proper executive summary!
The argument is about cutting irrelevant content, not relevant one. This is one important distinction that many advocating the 2-page CV rule seem to be unable to make. The idea behind a shorter CV is cutting irrelevant and redundant information, not through removing valuable content that can serve to highlight your competencies. For instance, does it really matter which high school you attended, which GPA you achieved, or whether you have been on the dean’s list? Are your first positions, when you were a junior, really relevant when you have worked as a manager for years and the position is of managerial seniority?
Cramming the same content into questionable format will make your CV less attractive. Many try to reduce the number of pages on their CV through reducing font size, switching to another font, or using tables to convey the same amount of information in much space. Doing so, however, makes the CV much more difficult to go through for the reader, and tables are often incorrectly interpreted by applicant tracking systems, with the content within the tables often being hidden from the algorithm.
When writing your CV, mind the credo of quantification, and provide as much relevant information as possible. Check whether there are repeating keywords, or industry buzzwords, which will further help you to convey a lot of meaning in limited space – but don’t let yourself be squeezed into feeling pressured to omit important information – no qualified candidate has been rejected solely because their CV was exceeding 2 pages!