How To Cut Down An Exhaustive CV

4 minute read

Is your CV three, four, or (god forbid) five pages long? In all honesty, recruiters just don’t have the time for that. With hundreds of CV’s to trawl through for every job they’re hiring for, a lengthy CV with lots of waffling and irrelevant information is likely to go straight in the bin. 

The sad truth is, the length of your CV could be the difference between being called for an interview for your dream charity role and not hearing back. Recruiters are looking for a concise, relevant and tailored document which is no longer than two pages. 

So, to help you keep your CV short, sweet and to-the-point, here are a few tricks you can use to trim the fat.


Cut back on older roles 

If you’ve been in the charity sector a while, your job history might be rather bulky. While it can be tempting to include all seven previous roles, the internship you completed straight out of university and your teenage weekend jobs, it’s probably not a good idea.

Get rid of any job experience which isn’t related to the position you’re applying for. A part-time waitressing job isn’t necessarily going to show that you’re qualified for a marketing position within a charity.

And if you’ve got too much relevant work experience, it’s best to give a brief summary of your early career rather than giving long, detailed explanations of each and every role. 

That being said, if you don’t have experience in the sector you may be tempted to list every job you’ve ever had. Make sure to only include previous roles that can highlight your transferrable skills. Although an old job managing a shop may not sound like it’s relevant, some of those leadership and people skills may be of interest to recruiters. But keep it to two or three roles to allow yourself the space to explain how these skills can translate to the role you’re applying for.

How To Cut Down An Exhaustive CV

Keep things relevant 

If your skills section is basically a list of random terms which you’ve added to over the years, you need to get editing! When it comes to job-hunting, you shouldn’t be using a one-size-fits-all CV. It should be tailored to every role you apply for.

Believe it or not, targeting your CV to a specific role is likely to help you cut down the length of your CV. Think hard about whether each skill is relevant to the role you’re applying to by cross-checking with the job description and company website.  Not only will this leave you with a cleaner, shorter CV, but it’ll also work to your advantage by making it clear to employers that you’re suitable for the role.


Goodbye, clichés! 

Does your CV state that you’re a hardworking team player with excellent communication skills and a passion for charity? Well, so do half of the other CVs in the pile – and, let’s be honest, the recruiters aren’t buying it.

Sometimes, removing words from your CV can be just as effective as adding new ones. Any ‘skills’ which are vague and non-specific should be deleted – and pronto. Make your CV more factual and impactful by backing up your skills with examples, results and achievements.


Don’t get too personal! 

Recruiters don’t need to know your full address, gender, marital status or date of birth. Keep personal details to a minimum. Prior to an interview, all they need is your name, phone number, email address and a rough geographical location.

Never, ever include a photo on your CV. Not only does this waste valuable space, but it could also be used as a basis for discrimination – meaning it’s likely to be ignored.

And when it comes to a hobbies and interests section, anything you list should be relevant to the role in question or display an extracurricular skill. Socialising with friends, eating out or playing video games? It’s time to press delete!

How To Cut Down An Exhaustive CV

So, if your CV is coming in a little too long, try implementing some of the strategies above to bring it closer to the ideal two-page size. Always endeavour to keep your points concise and focus on highlighting the most relevant skills and knowledge for your target jobs.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter and founder of CV advice centre StandOut CV and a regular contributor to sites such as CV Library, The Guardian and Business Insider.

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