Keep your CV concise and to the point with these top tips

You've got a great career story and you have the skills and qualifications to back it up. The only problem is that by the time you've written it all into your CV, you're left with a long, wordy document that would take a recruiter forever to read!

You only have a few seconds to make that all-important first impression, so how can you declutter your CV to make an impact from the moment it lands on a hiring manager's desk? TopCV has some tips on how to shorten your CV and what you should leave out.

1.   Focus on your target job

A concise, impactful CV is focused on one particular role. If you haven't decided on the type of job you're looking for, you really need to spend some time narrowing down your choices and making some decisions. By focusing solely on the information that is pertinent to the job you're aiming for, you'll soon declutter your CV. Just remember you'll need to tweak your CV slightly for every role you apply for, to ensure that you hit the requirements every time.

2.   Remove personal details

An easy step to declutter your CV is simply to remove personal details. Keep your name and contact details, obviously, but remove extra information such as your marital status, date of birth, National Insurance number, passport number, nationality and so on. They simply have no bearing on your ability to do the job and add nothing to your application.

Remember that many of these details count as protected characteristics, so a recruiter should ignore them to ensure a fair, unbiased and non-discriminatory recruitment process. Some of the details could  even give rise to security issues, if you're uploading your CV online or emailing it out indiscriminately. There's really no need for them to be there.

3.   Keep your profile short and sweet

Every CV needs to start with a Professional Profile, to act as your introduction and elevator pitch. The trick here is to remember that less is more! Declutter your CV by reducing the length of the profile (4-5 lines should be plenty) and making an impact with your concise wording and achievements rather than your waffle.

4.   Delete irrelevant information from your career history

Can you omit things from your CV? Of course you can! The literal translation of Curriculum Vitae is Course of Life – but that doesn't mean you need to tell your life story. The recruiter only needs to know whether you can do the job in hand, so anything that detracts from that message should be considered for deletion. That includes extensive lists of responsibilities for any role – stick to the highlights. That means just your main remit, key statistics and achievements.

5.   Ditch ancient history

The most common reason for a long CV is an extensive career history. If you've held many jobs during your career, it can be tricky squeezing them all on. The easiest way to shorten your CV is to simply summarise any roles you held over 10 years ago.

Condense older jobs to your job title, employer name and dates of employment – do you really think a recruiter wants to know the ins and outs of your apprenticeship 20 years ago?

6.   What to do if you have too much work experience on your CV

What if you've had a lot of roles over a short period? Contractors, temps, and job hoppers can often struggle to condense their career history into a manageable chunk. In that case, consider grouping similar roles under one heading (for example “Administrator for various companies”) or selecting only your most relevant, or prestigious, or successful contracts. Not only will this streamline and simplify your CV, it will also save a lot of duplication.

7.   Rethink your hobbies

Hobbies and interests rarely add any value, so if you're wondering how to shorten your CV this is an easy change to make. Unless you're a college leaver with minimal work experience, or your hobbies are very relevant to your target job, you can either delete or ruthlessly slash this section.

8.   Check the length

While there's no one perfect length for a CV, the commonly accepted standard is 2 pages. If you've done everything you can to meet this standard and still find that you're faced with an outsized document, try these quick hacks on how to shorten your CV:

  • Change the font and/or the font size

  • Reduce the margins

  • Use bullet points rather than paragraphs, to force you to write concisely

  • Change the format of the headers

  • Remove headers and footers

  • Keep reviewing and revising to maintain focus and relevancy

The key here is to ensure that your CV remains readable! Cramming it from edge to edge with tiny text isn't going to help your cause.

The golden rule when you declutter your CV

If you need to declutter your CV, the golden rule is to keep it relevant to the job you're applying for. Anything that doesn't support your application for a particular role should be considered for deletion.

Still struggling to control your unwieldy CV? Leave it to the professionals. Get some expert feedback with a free CV review from TopCV and you'll be impressing recruiters in no time!

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