How to Shorten a CV
Is your CV three, four or (God forbid) five pages long? Unfortunately, recruiters just don’t often have the time for that. With hundreds of CVs to trawl through for every job they’re hiring for, a lengthy CV with lots of waffling and irrelevant information is likely to go in the bin. Recruiters are looking for a concise, relevant and tailored document which is no longer than two pages.
So, how can you keep your CV short, sweet and to-the-point? Here are a few tricks you can use to shorten a CV.
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 your previous roles, the internship you completed straight out of university and your teenage weekend jobs, they might not all be needed―especially if you’re trying to shorten your CV.
Get rid of any job experience that 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.
If you don’t have experience in the charity sector, only include previous roles that highlight your transferable 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 just a few roles to allow yourself the space to explain how these skills can translate to the role you’re applying for.
Keep things relevant
If your skills section is basically a list of random terms you’ve added to over the years, you might need to get editing! When it comes to job-hunting, you shouldn’t use a one-size-fits-all CV. It should be tailored to every role you apply for.
Believe it or not, targeting what you write to a specific role is likely to help you shorten a CV. Think hard about whether each skill is relevant to the role by cross-checking with the job description and company website. This will leave you with a cleaner, shorter CV as well as highlighting your suitability for the role.
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. Sometimes, removing words from your CV can be just as effective as adding new ones. Anything which is vague and non-specific should be deleted. Make your CV more factual and impactful by backing up your skills with examples, results and achievements.
Shorten your sentences
Providing detail to back up previous experience is important, but long sentences take up valuable space on your CV. What’s more, they take longer for recruiters to read and digest.
To get to the point quicker, consider writing in bullet points. This way, you won’t have to use full sentences, meaning you can skip out filler words and connecting words such as ‘and’, ‘just’ and ‘so’.
This can take your descriptions down from:
‘I was put in charge of organising networking and other national events as part of a team. This led to an increase of 20% in corporate partnerships across 6 months compared to the previous 6 months.’
‘Organised networking and national events, increasing corporate partnerships by 20% across 6 months.’
Don’t get too personal!
Recruiters don’t need to know your full address, gender, marital status or date of birth. Prior to an interview, all they need is your name, phone number, email address and a rough geographical location.
Never 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.
So, if you’re trying to work out how to shorten a CV, try implementing some of the strategies above to bring it closer to the ideal two-page size. Keep your points concise and focus on highlighting the most relevant skills and knowledge for your target jobs. Then you’re all set to go!
Ready to take the leap and start applying for charity jobs? Here’s a taste for what’s currently out there.
This post was originally published in 2019. We’ve updated it to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and the Independent.