How long should a CV be? Will one page be too short? What about two or three pages — too long?

Most well-written UK CVs are one or two pages long, but the best page count for your CV will depend on your professional background, skill set, and the job you’re applying for.

We identify the best lengths for different CV formats and discuss how to shorten a CV that’s a little too long.

How many pages should my CV be?

Careers authorities like National Careers and Oxford University agree that two pages (two A4 sides) is the best length for most CVs.

There are some exceptions to this rule, though. Here’s when to use different CV lengths:

One-page CVs (for inexperienced candidates)

A one-page CV (one side of A4) is acceptable if you’re a job hunter with minimal work experience or looking for entry-level work.

If you’re writing a CV with no work experience and are struggling to write a one-page CV, there are a couple of things you can do to fill out one A4 side in a meaningful way:

  • Use a skills-based CV format, which focuses more on your relevant skills than your work history
  • Include relevant modules, courses, and school or university projects in your education section
  • Add additional sections to highlight your knowledge and relevant skills

If you’re struggling to fill an entire page, these optional CV sections will make you look like a well-rounded candidate:

Two-page CVs (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.

Two-page CVs typically follow the chronological CV format and include the following sections:

Three-page CVs and longer (senior professionals and academics)

Three-page CVs are appropriate if you’re applying for high-level jobs that require specialised experience or knowledge.

For example, if you’re writing a medical CV, you’ll likely need to include additional sections specific to medicine, such as awards, conferences, and publications.

If you’re unsure how long your CV should be, do a Google search to find specific CV examples from your industry and tailor your CV accordingly.

CVs for academic positions tend to be four pages or longer because they use a unique format.

In addition to your personal statement, work history, and education, you’ll need to include the following sections on an academic CV:

  • Publications
  • Research
  • Awards and funding
  • Teaching experience
  • Conferences and presentations
  • Professional memberships
  • Research and technical skills
  • References
  • Appendices

You may also need an extensive CV if you apply for certain highly specialised senior roles. For example, NHS Consultant CVs are often 10–15 pages long.

International CVs and Resumes

If you’re applying for a job outside of the UK, you may need to adjust your CV length to meet local standards:

  • Most European and Asian countries prefer CVs to be 1–2 pages long
  • In the US and Canada, a one-page resume is normally appropriate

Remember to keep an eye on local formatting standards.

Some countries (such as Japan) use unique CV layouts, so you may have to create a new CV for local employers. If you’re applying to jobs in European countries, you may want to create a CV using the Europass CV editor, which allows you to translate your CV into 30 different languages.

Try using our online CV builder to ensure your CV is concise and space-efficient.

How do I shorten my CV?

Keeping your page count low is challenging, but a concise, high-quality CV will help you stand out to employers.

Here are six ways to reduce your CV’s length:

1. Fix your formatting

These small formatting corrections can make your CV shorter:

  • Reduce your margins down as low as 1.25 cm. Most word processors set them at 2.5 cm by default, so tweaking them down will increase the number of words you can fit on each page.
  • Resize your font — most are comfortably readable at between 10.5 and 12 points. Switch to a sans serif CV font for smaller sizes, as their simpler letter shapes are easier to read.

2. Use a more space-efficient layout

Experiment with a few different CV formats or download different free CV templates to see if you can reduce your CV’s page count.

You can also try using a skills-based CV format. A skills-based CV has an expanded skills section and brief work history that only includes essential information for each of your previous jobs, such as your job title, employer, and employment dates.

Using a skills-based CV emphasises what you can do over how many years of work experience you have. So it’s an ideal approach for students, school leavers, and entry-level applicants.

3. Remove your references

Take out the references on your CV and add them to a separate document.

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.

4. 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 on your CV will show employers you’re a strong candidate and make you stand out from the competition.

For instance, instead of listing your duties as a marketer, 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

Learning how to write a cover letter well is also a great way to convey your professional skills and accomplishments.

5. Trim unnecessary sections

Depending on the job you’re applying for, you can afford to keep some of your CV sections brief.

For example, if you’re applying for a bartending or cafe job, you’re unlikely to need a detailed education section. Sticking a brief mention of your university or school leaver qualifications will be more than enough.

For a clean, concise CV, you’ll need to be a bit ruthless. Read through your CV carefully and cut any information that isn’t relevant to the job.

6. 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 identify mistakes and wordy sentences. For example, ‘in order to’ can be replaced with ‘to’.

Frequently asked questions about CV length

Still have doubts about your CV’s length? Here are three common questions about getting the right length for your CV in the UK:

  1. How far back should my CV go?
  2. How can I make my CV longer?
  3. Should a CV be one page?

1. How far back should my CV go?

Generally, your CV should focus on the most recent 10–15 years of your career. Only include jobs you did more than 15 years ago if they add value to your application.

Adding unnecessary information distracts employers from your most up-to-date jobs and skills.

Prune your skills section in the same way — cut anything that doesn’t support the job you’re applying for. Job adverts for similar positions can suggest skills that are relevant but weren’t specifically mentioned by the employer.

If you want to give employers 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 | 1990–2000
Samsung, Seoul

2. How can I make my CV longer?

Use these approaches to fill out an incomplete page or pad out your CV if you can’t fill one A4 side.

i. Add white space
Although you should do this sparingly, adding white space can make individual achievements and experiences stand out to employers.

Use up to 1.5 line spacing and 2.5 cm margins to spread out the content of your CV. Formatting your CV in this way will spread out your experience more, but the page won’t look sparse and unprofessional. Also, make sure that your CV font is an appropriate size — it shouldn’t be bigger than 12 points.

ii. Divide your skills section
Separating your skills by category will highlight relevant aspects of your professional profile, while also using more space on your CV. How you should separate your skills depends on the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you were writing a CV for a cyber security job, you could create IT skills and transferable skills sections:

IT Skills

IDPS (Snort & Suricata) | Firewall software (Cisco ASA, Check Point) | Security information and event management (SIEM) software (Splunk) |
Vulnerability scanning tools (Nessus)

Transferable Skills

Written and verbal communication | Analytical skills | Problem-solving skills | Attention to detail

3. Should a CV be one page?

In the UK, you should only write one page if you are writing a CV for your first job and have very little relevant experience.

Employers won’t expect more than one page for entry-level positions. They’ll be more interested in whether you have the right core skills.

Unnecessarily wordy CVs won’t be impressive. In fact, employers may see lengthy CVs as a sign of poor communication or organisational skills. Make sure you write in plain English and only include relevant information.

More FAQs about writing your job application

Here are the answers to even more questions you might have about your job application:

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Written by

Seb Morgan

Seb Morgan is a Career Counsellor for CV Genius, where he helps job seekers and professionals get more out of their careers. With over 7 years of experience in business and lifestyle journalism, he's written for a stack of careers-focused publications, including Oxbridge Home Learning, Study International, theHRDirector, and Employee Benefit News, and his expertise includes skill development, interview preparation, and CV and cover letter writing. West Midlands born and raised, Seb has since lived, worked, and studied in 4 countries across 2 continents. He speaks 4 languages and has survived job interviews in 3 of them. He currently also freelances as a travel and culture writer. Reach him at [sebastian] @ [cvgenius.com] or via LinkedIn.