How to Shorten Your CV without Losing Value

Posted on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 by The CV WizardNo comments

You’ve probably heard this before: keep your CV to two sides of A4. And that doesn’t mean two sides of A4 crammed with tiny fonts and no white space. But you’ve been working on it for hours and it’s still stuffed full. How can you shorten your CV so it doesn’t lose value but showcases your skills, talent, and suitability for the role? 

Less is more

It’s helpful to realise that when it comes to writing your CV, less is more. Fewer words have more power and impact. Recruiting managers who sift through piles of CVs every day are turned off by dense volumes with long paragraphs and sentences.

Instead, they’re attracted to punchy detail with easy-to-grasp phrases. This also means that important details won’t be lost in a sea of noise. 

So, where can you begin with trimming the fat?

  1. Cut out repetition

    Your starting point is to cut out anything that is repetitive. This often happens when you’ve got a career history of similar positions. Focus on the most recent and don’t bother naming and repeating the same thing from years ago.

    A key way to do this is to categorise information to show that your skillset is cross-functional.

  2. Use action words

    Some words hold more power than others. You can use less and make a greater impact. Action words are energised. For example, you didn’t “write” a growth plan, you “designed” or “engineered” it.

  3. Speak actively, not passively

    Switching your written language from passive to active is tricky, but it is a clever way to use fewer words more strategically. Write a sentence in the passive form and then play with it until you have an actively structured phrase.

  4. Be specific

    Ditch anything that’s vague. Instead add value and meaning with specific descriptors.

  5. Use numbers over words wherever you can

    Numbers are more powerful and provide evidence; using them in your CV will quantify your achievements. It means nothing to say you “exceeded targets”, but with “exceeded sales targets by 27%” you’ll suddenly garner attention. Add context where you can, explaining the problem before your action and its result. This is a great way of demonstrating the true strength of the change that you’ve brought about.

  6. Get clever with your formatting

    Use a clean font, such as Calibri, and keep it to size 11+. Use bold judiciously. Once you’re nearly finished, you can go back and rework sections to get rid of any “widows” and “orphans”—those singular words that take up a whole line and stray paragraph lines.

  7. Know what matters to the hiring manager

    The reality is that there isn’t enough room on your CV for everything you want to put there. However, that’s okay because what you want to include isn’t the same as what the hiring manager needs—and that’s the most important thing. Remember to consider what the hiring manager needs to hear to have enough interest in speaking to you directly.

Shortening your CV can be tough and time-consuming. It can be quite a brutal and difficult exercise. If you need help, speak to one of our recruitment consultants on 020 7870 7177.


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