11 Tips To Help You Shorten A Curriculum Vitae That Is Far Too Long
We understand putting a CV together can be tough! The difficulty around knowing what to include and what to leave out often leads to people either barely including anything (a blog about how to fix a CV that is too short is coming next month!) or a CV that is just miles too long.
Try and put yourself in the employers and recruiter’s shoes. They have hundreds of CVs to get through each day, so they don't want to be dealing with 5, 7, 11+ page long documents. They need to be able to tell whether you’re a good fit for the advertised position by looking over the first page.
If you’re guilty of having a long, overwhelming CV, read on because the following tips are designed to help you cut a long CV down and create a more succinct, cleaner document.
So print out that super long CV, grab a pen and get comfy because this list is the in-depth guide you need to help you remove all the things that shouldn't be taking up space. It’s culling time! #KonMariyourCV
Your birthdate and any other personal information besides your contact details, i.e. marital status, info about your family, your star sign [yes, we've seen it!] anything about your health, your driver's license info - unless directly relevant to the job.
Detailed info about jobs more than 8-10 years ago. Technology and software have likely changed, your experience since this time has evolved, and all in all, whatever you did ten years ago is no longer relevant. (There are a few exceptions to this so please feel free to reach out and ask one of our consultants if you are not sure about including your older experience).
Long bulleted lists of skills with no real context. You’ve all seen them (and probably used them on your CV at one point or another); we’re talking about the lists that include a jumble of hard and soft skills such as ‘team player’, ‘reliable’, ‘good attention to detail’ ‘teaching and mentoring’… No! These lists are just a waste of valuable white space. You are not giving any credibility to your skills by simply listing them in this way. Your soft and hard skills need to be separated and put into sections with context to back up and give weight to your level of experience and achievements. (If you’re stuck on this point, reach out to us! Sorting vague skill lists is one of our CV-writing specialities!)
If you’re short on space in your CV, it makes sense not to list ALL of your voluntary experience. Don’t get us wrong; if you are an active volunteer, this is great to include in your CV! We don’t want you to remove this fact, rather curate it in a meaningful way. You can do this by culling the experiences of the places you no longer volunteer and leaving just your most recent voluntary roles. Keep the full list of places you have volunteered on your LinkedIn page. You can even write something like: ‘For a full list of community involvement and voluntary work, please see (insert your LinkedIn page link here) to help employers see that you have done more than is listed in your CV.
Publications and articles – Although this is an impressive skill/achievement that we understand you would want to mention (and it might be ok if there are just a few) if you’re short on space, we recommend you cut this info down in a similar way to your voluntary experience. By all means, keep this information in your CV if: your CV is short and needs a boost; if you can include your recent publications as achievements for a recent position; or if the publication is highly relevant to the next role. In general, to save space, we suggest moving published works information to your LinkedIn page and getting it off your CV.
Keep your employment experience info succinct but informative (i.e. don't copy and paste your entire job description into your CV. Look for commonalities in your duties and responsibilities then paraphrase, and summarise, summarise, summarise! (if you’re stuck with this one, please feel free to reach out. Condensing giant job descriptions into powerful paragraphs are second nature to us!)
No longer common, but we do still sometimes see them: CV title pages! You don't need a cover/title page on your CV. Your name on the first page is the best option.
If you are short on room, keep you extracurricular/hobbies/interests section short and interesting. Use whatever you do include to hammer home your job-related expertise (i.e. Coaching premier college basketball highlights skills with time management, communication, interpersonal ability, and leadership)
In addition to the previous bullet point, you don’t need to give stacks of context to your extracurricular activities (i.e. you don’t need to go into detail about what your role as a Coach entailed. If your extracurricular activity is directly related to the role you are applying for, this could be an exception, however, in general we recommend that something highly relevant is referred to in more detail in the covering letter for the position.
Don't list off details for referees if you are low on space. Simply stating that referees are available on request is 100 per cent acceptable. There are a number of other reasons you might not want to include full referee details in your CV too, including preventing potential employers from contacting busy managers that you didn't get a chance to forewarn regarding a reference check. Keeping your referees listed as ‘Available on request’ is also a smart decision because it saves you the hassle of constantly needing to update this section (especially relevant if your CV is stored on a job search website! No more re-uploading every time a referee changes).
Testimonials and written references. Hmm… While it might seem like a good idea to include this sort of third person feedback in a CV, it just is not what a CV is designed for. Save these rave reviews for LinkedIn where there are dedicated sections for others to endorse your skills and recommend you. You are welcome to direct people to your LinkedIn page or mention you have written reference available on your CV, but don’t include them in your CV (No matter how much free space you have!)
Our final tip to help you successfully strip your CV back to 2-3 pages is to contact a professional CV writing service… *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*
We exist purely to help with crisis CV situations like this! Enlisting an expert to create a CV with a sleek, professional design and layout and clear, succinct written content will help ensure maximum impact when your CV passes across the employer's desk. (Imagine the look on their face when they see your impressive CV shining out from the sea of black-and-white-and-boring paperwork; Ooooh weee! We’d like to be a fly on the wall to see how happy they are not to have to pour over 12 pages of rambling!)
If you are staring down the barrel of this overwhelming CV condensing task, please get in touch.
P.S - The longest CV we have worked on was 49 pages and we got it down to just two [no joke!], so don't feel defeated if yours is a few pages longer than it should be.