Is there an ideal CV length? Can resumes exceed two pages? The longer their career experience, the more these questions start to burn in the minds of job seekers.
Personally, I think it’s a little ridiculous to say ‘a resume should never be longer than two pages’. Instead, the main determinant of the length of your CV should be your level of seniority and experience.
You still need to be succinct though, and of one thing I can assure you: no one will read a 12-page resume. While long and detailed CVs may be the norm elsewhere, in Australia the ideal is to keep things as succinct – and relevant – as possible. My recommendation would be not to exceed four or five pages at the very most, and that’s only for the most senior CVs.
It’s all about relevance
Your guiding principle when preparing a resume should be relevance. If it’s relevant, include it, but if not – leave it out.
That means you need to tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for right here, right now. If you’ve had a job in the past that isn’t relevant to the role, by all means include it in your history with the dates and job title, but don’t waste space describing what you did there.
The most relevant information to include – and the one employers will be most interested in – are your achievements in previous roles. The more senior you are, the more achievements you should have under your belt and the longer your resume can justifiably be. Don’t, however, bother listing your experiences and achievements if they’re ancient history as it’s really only the last ten or so years that employers will be interested in.
Provide a snapshot
Your resume should provide a snapshot of your experience, skills and what you have to offer. Be succinct – that in itself demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. Even your Executive Summary should only be a few lines.
The snapshot approach still needs to be complete, so that means you need to provide details like the dates of your employment in previous jobs (within the last 10 to 15 years), indicate where they were located and specify if they were permanent or contract positions. Make sure your dates line up and explain any gaps that may raise questions – for example, if you took time off to go travelling, say so.
Back up your claims
No hiring manager wants to read vague, grandiose statements that aren’t backed up by facts. Everyone says they have great communication skills and are a team player, but that doesn’t mean anything without supporting evidence.
If you claim to be strategic, prove it by citing an example of when you developed and implemented an innovative strategy in your past work and projects. This will give your resume heft and make you stand out from the crowd.
More tips for a succinct and effective resume
• Don’t repeat yourself. Are your previous jobs saying unique and different things about you and adding different facets to your career, or simply emphasising the same points? Say it well, and say it once.
• Use active language, avoid clichés, jargon and florid sentences, and keep paragraphs and sections short. Get to the point and don’t be afraid of the delete button.
• Don’t go into excessive detail and only use detail that’s core to the job and that backs up your case.
• Ensure the most important information is in the top half of your resume. Your success or failure in securing an interview may well come down to a 30-second skim.
||Chris Potter is the Director of Accounting & Finance at Hudson Sydney. He is a recruitment specialist with over 10 years’ experience recruiting senior finance professionals into financial services institutions and global commercial organisations.