In an ever changing employment market your CV could be key to a new job!

As a recruiter, one of the most common questions I am asked is; How long should my CV be?  Personally, I don’t think that there is a set size, however the information needs to remain relevant and the detail concise!

In the 1990`s, when I started my career, I was told by various people that your CV should be no more than 2 pages!  I never understood where the magic number “2” came from yet this advice seems to have come from multiple channels such as careers advisors, lecturers, parents and other trusted individuals. 

Taking the point of a CV to its basic principle, the idea of the document is to reflect as much information as possible to demonstrate your suitability for a specific job and to make sure your profile stands out from the rest. 

Over the years I have seen many quirks that have been designed to make a CV standout.  Some of these include; unique hobbies & interests that are eye catching or thought provoking; graphics or company logo`s that reflect former employers which presumably draw the attention of your audience; profile pictures to demonstrate a positive impression that the reader can build a relationship with immediately. 

In my opinion the above ideas, are oddities.  They do not demonstrate an ability to do the job in question.  In todays busy and chaotic world, do potential employers take the time to read the hobbies and interests or look at the brands that someone has worked for.  Or more cynically, do people discriminate positively or negatively, if there is an image on a CV? (or is there that potential).

Looking at this from a different standpoint, if a CV has obscure/irrelevant information, could the opportunity to captivate your audience, with your skills and experience been lost/does it become to lengthy.

I read many CV`s in my day job and I believe the most successful ones follow the format below.

Start with personal details; name, location and notice period.  Next move onto a personal profile or personal statement.  This is the opportunity to narrate a personality however keep it professional – I have seen many that are just off the wall, below is an example of what not to say (from believe it or not a senior professional);

“I have always been attracted to scuba diving in the Caribbean however I feel out of my depth at the shallow end of the local swimming pool”.  Funny yes – but you lose credibility.

Logically for me education comes next as professional or vocational qualifications are an important factor in being shortlisted.  If you do not have the relevant qualification, omitting this could be misleading.

Finally, your employment to date.  My advice is to start with the most recent, as this is likely to be the most relevant.  The important details to start with are dates of employment, company name and job title. This gives the reader clear, critical information. By offering the core details your duties in bullet format will keep the information easily readable and will save precious time.  Context is important so avoid using sole words, however a balance is required between too much and too little.  It is essential that grammar and spelling are correct, as attention to detail is paramount!

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Joe Savidge
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