To make a positive impact with your CV, your CV should have an appropriate amount of pages.
The standard CV length is two pages, but there are exceptions depending on your professional background and skill set.
How long should a CV be?
A two-page CV is the industry standard in the UK because it covers necessary information about your professional background and shows you’re a well-rounded applicant.
Though most employers expect two pages, there are circumstances where one page, three pages, or four pages are appropriate.
Here’s a detailed look at different CV page lengths and when to use them.
One-page CV (for inexperienced candidates)
A one-page CV is acceptable if you’re a job hunter with minimal work experience or looking for entry-level work.
Employers don’t expect recent graduates to have lengthy CVs, so write a one-page graduate CV if you only have enough work history to fill a page.
If you’re having trouble filling one page, increase your CV length by adding these sections:
A one-page CV is also acceptable if your work experience consists of similar job positions that you can easily summarise in a few paragraphs.
Two-page CV (entry- to mid-level applicants)
Two pages are the ideal CV length for most entry- to mid-level job applicants with some previous work experience.
A two-page CV must include the following sections:
- CV title
- Personal statement
- Work experience
- Education details
- Transferable skills
A professional and well-rounded CV that conveys your skills and value to the employer increases your chances of getting an interview.
Though it’s good to aim for a two-page CV if you have several years of work experience, there’s technically no set page length for CVs.
A longer CV can be well-rounded and concise even if you’re a CEO. Its length depends on your situation, which we discuss below.
Three-page CV (senior- or management-level professionals)
Three-page CVs are appropriate if you’re applying for a job requiring specialised schooling, projects, skills, and knowledge that won’t easily fit onto two pages.
For example, 3-page CVs are acceptable for senior roles, as well as experienced managers and above.
Four-page CVs and longer (executives and academics)
Similar to a 3-page CV, you should only write a four-page CV if you have decades of experience, are applying for an executive-level role, or are applying for a job in an industry that requires a longer CV.
For instance, academic CVs have no page limit. Academic CVs tend to be longer than four pages because you need to include special projects, schooling, and publications that are relevant to the application.
How far back should a CV go?
Generally, your CV should focus on the most recent 10–15 years of your relevant experience, which equates to around 3–5 jobs you’ve worked in for a year or more.
Remember to tailor your CV to the job description. Some of your past jobs may date back over 15 years, but if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying to, then you can add them to your CV.
Adding unnecessary information dating beyond 15 years distracts employers from your most up-to-date jobs and skills, and may even promote ageism.
Also, leave out any skills that aren’t mentioned in the job advert. If the job advert doesn’t mention graphic design skills, don’t include them, even if you’re proud of them.
If you want to provide employers with a glance at your older work history (without writing bullet points), include a section with your previous position titles, employers, and years of employment. Here’s an example:
Software Engineer, Samsung (1990–2000)
How do I shorten my CV?
Keeping your CV page count low is challenging, but remember that clarity and high-quality content are important because employers go through hundreds of CVs to hire for one role. Sending a long and waffly CV can quickly discredit you.
Writing more than two pages for a CV often leads to:
- lengthy introductions
- oversharing personal details
- redundant information
Here are nine ways to format your CV clearly and effectively:
1. Fix your margins
Margins help make a CV look professional and easy to read. If you’re struggling to write more for your CV or looking to add white space, try adjusting your margins.
2.5 cm margins are the default on Microsoft Word, but you can resize your margins between a range of 1.25 cm to 2.5 cm.
If you have less work experience, you can use 2.5 cm margins. Or, you might try narrower page margins (no smaller than 1.25 cm) if you want to add more details to your CV.
2. Resize your font
Selecting a suitable font size will shorten or lengthen your CV and make a positive difference to your CV’s appearance.
The standard font size for CVs is 10.5 to 12 points. Remember to choose an appropriate CV font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana, and use bold and italic sparingly.
Companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter applicants, so having the correct CV font ensures the ATS can read your CV.
3. Limit your bullet points
Too many words on your CV bury the valuable information that employers are looking for. To produce a high-quality CV, use 4–6 bullet points for each job position.
Try using more bullet points for your recent experiences, and fewer bullet points for older job positions.
4. Mention your best selling points first
Employers have numerous CVs to sift through, so ensure your CV stands out by organising your most relevant achievements and skills at the top of each CV section.
For example, if you have four bullet points describing your most recent software developer position, list your most noteworthy point before the others. If they’re impressed with your first bullet, they’ll continue reading.
5. Change your CV layout
Experiment with a few different formats and CV templates to see if you can reduce your CV’s page count.
You can also try using a skills-based CV layout. A skills-based CV emphasises your transferable skills and removes the need to list all of your previous job roles.
6. Remove your references
Take out your references from your CV and place them on a separate page to give to employers at their request.
Employers will request your references later in the job application process, so while they’re necessary to have, they aren’t needed on your actual CV.
7. Mention achievements instead of duties
Instead of describing every duty you did in a certain role, try mentioning a significant achievement in that role. Listing your achievements will show employers you’re a strong candidate and make you stand out from the competition.
For instance, instead of listing out your duties as a marketer, you can mention that you increased sales from X amount to Y amount in Z months, like this applicant here:
- Increased product sales from £7000 to £10,400 in less than 3 months
8. Write your contact details in a horizontal header
Instead of writing your phone number, email, website and address in separate lines, list them all in one sentence separated by vertical slashes.
Ideally, this sentence should come just after your name in the heading. The two sentences (your name and contact information) should also be centre-aligned.
You can also hyperlink your LinkedIn profile using the anchor text, ‘LinkedIn’, to save space. Here’s an example:
Phone | Email | Home Address | LinkedIn
9. Edit and proofread your CV
Read over your CV thoroughly and remove any repetitions, irrelevant information and grammar and spelling mistakes.
Using an online editor like Grammarly helps you see suggestions to remove wordiness from your sentences.
For example, ‘in order to’ can be replaced with ‘to’. By removing errors, you’ll significantly reduce your page count.